Unquestionably, Marlon Brando was one of the leading actors of the 20th century. The well-known Godfather was always in firm control … until it came to his estate that is.
This is installment #12 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.
Marlon Brando never followed convention. He won his Oscar for Best Actor in 1973 for The Godfather, but Brando rejected the award as a protest to the treatment of Native Americans by the film industry. Too bad he failed to follow the norms when it came to estate planning.
In part due to questions about his true intentions as expressed in his will and trust, Marlon Brando’s estate was involved in more than two dozens lawsuits by 2009 — five years after his death. He passed away on July 1, 2004, at 80 years of age, suffering from a Read more...
Elizabeth Taylor is known for many things: her successful acting career, recognition as perhaps the ultimate icon of Hollywood glitz and glamour, standing up as a champion for AIDS research, her popular perfume, and, of course, her string of failed marriages.
Failed nuptials aside, almost everything Liz Taylor touched turned to gold. But what about her estate? Did she prepare her estate with the same high standards as the rest of her life?
This is installment #11 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.
Despite early reports that Taylor’s family may fight over her estate, her estate has been just the opposite: peaceful. No probate filing, no copies of her will or trust published on the web, and no court battles.
In fact, almost four years after her death at the age of 79, very little is publicly known about Elizabeth Read more...
Marilyn Monroe left a legacy that seems to grow brighter each year. Monroe’s image and likeness were so valuable that a multi-million dollar lawsuit over her publicity rights raged on, more than fifty years after she died, until it was finally resolved by a federal court of appeals.
The second wife of Marilyn Monroe’s acting coach was in the center of it. Why did she — whom Monroe barely even knew — have control of the image and legacy of one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars ever?
This is installment #10 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.
Marilyn Monroe, whose real name was Norma Jean Baker, had a difficult childhood. Her mother struggled with mental illness, and Monroe didn’t know for sure who her father was, much less have a relationship with him. She was raised in a series of Read more...
When someone mentions Farrah Fawcett, most people think of her looks. But what about her brains — her financial savvy in particular? The actress and model who rose to fame as one of Charlie’s Angels planned well to protect her troubled son, Redmond, after she passed away. Yet all was not angelic when it came to her financial legacy.
This is installment #9 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.
Farrah Fawcett was far from the stereotypical blonde model when it came to finances. She was hired to do five seasons of Charlie’s Angels, by Aaron Spelling’s production company. After the first season hit it big, Fawcett re-negotiated for more money. Relying on the fact that she never actually signed the contract, she was able to secure an increase in per-episode salary from $5,000 to $100,000.
Fawcett’s savvy definitely came Read more...
When Robin Williams tragically committed suicide six months ago, he left behind three children from his first two marriages (ages 23 to 31) and a widow of less than three years, Susan Schneider Williams. Unlike many celebrities, Robin Williams took the time to create thoughtful and detailed estate plan, including various trusts to benefit both Susan and his three children. The trust established for his wife, called the Susan Trust, referred to and was consistent with a prenuptial agreement the couple signed in 2011 when they were married.
Because Robin Williams’ estate plan was carefully crafted, it initially appeared that his heirs would avoid the bitter family squabbles that affect many mixed-marriage families (in Hollywood and around the country). After all, it is his wishes that matter, and because those wishes were seemingly captured through the proper estate planning documents, there should be nothing left to fight about, right?
Not so fast. Within the past 24 hours, the news broke that the Williams family will not be so lucky. Susan, Read more...
The popularity of the Duke has never waned. But are John Wayne’s heirs going too far in profiting off of his legacy? And what does Duke University have to say about it?
This is installment #8 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.
With a movie career that spanned fifty years, there is no disputing that John Wayne is one of the most successful and treasured actors of all times. He was in the top ten list of actors whose films generated the highest box office gross earnings for an astonishing 25 years in a row. The Duke also holds the record for most leading movie roles of all time – 142. To this day, he remains in the top ten list in the annual Harris poll of favorite Hollywood actors and actresses. In fact, the American Film Institute ranked Wayne Read more...
News of Glee star Cory Monteith’s death by cocaine and alcohol overdose on July 13, 2013 stunned his fans across the world. The heartthrob actor was only 31. He had struggled with drug addiction since he was a teenager.
Cory’s mother attributed his struggles with drugs at an early age due to the lack of a relationship with his father. In an interview with Good Morning America she said that Cory tried extra hard because he had been “invalidated” by his father.
Cory’s father, Joe Monteith, denied this and blamed Cory’s mother instead. He said his job in the Canadian military forced him to be away from home for months at a time, but he tried to maintain a relationship with Cory. In fact, he says his ex-wife prevented communication and returned Christmas gifts he sent to his son.
Cory Monteith’s Mom Speaks Out About Her Loss
It’s hard to determine whose side of the story is correct, but there is no dispute that Cory and his father didn’t have Read more...
Everyone loves a good rags-to-riches tale. But Francesca Gabor Hilton’s life followed a dramatically different path. Born to Hollywood star Zsa Zsa Gabor, and founder of the famed Hilton hotel dynasty, Conrad Hilton, Francesca was raised living in mansions, attending celebrity parties, earning blue ribbons in horse-riding competitions, and jet-setting to Rome and Paris, among other fashionable cities. But her life was not as idyllic as it seemed.
Zsa Zsa Gabor wrote in her autobiography that Francesca was born following a pregnancy that resulted from rape by Conrad Hilton, her husband at the time. The couple divorced before Francesca was born. Francesca told the Los Angeles Times in 2007 that she spent Christmases and occasional upscale lunches with her father. But their relationship was never close. When Conrad died in 1979, he left his only daughter $100,000 out of his estate, with most of the wealth earmarked for charity. That doesn’t sound too bad, except that Conrad Hilton’s estate was worth about $200 million at the time, including massive Hilton Read more...
Joan Rivers was widely respected for her sense of humor, work ethic, and willingness to say almost anything for a laugh. When it came to planning her estate, Rivers treated it as no laughing matter.
Joan Rivers’ last will and testament was signed on November 16, 2011. A thorough and well-drafted legal document, her will named a living trust as her beneficiary.
Specifically, Joan Rivers, whose full legal name was Joan R. Rosenberg, signed the Rosenberg Family Trust on the same day as the will. The will directed that all of her estate assets were to be distributed to that trust.
Melissa Rivers to Inherit Over $100 million of Joan Rivers Estate
Interestingly, the final version of Joan’s trust was far from her first. In fact, the will stated that her trust was actually the 11th amendment of the original trust, and the third complete restatement. This means that the original Rosenberg Family Trust was changed, many times over, and rewritten completely three times (not counting the original version). When Read more...
Sure the holidays are a fun time for families to sit around talking about what happened on the latest episode of The Walking Dead or how granddaughter Mary is doing in dance class. But they are also a great time to have the important — yet often difficult — conversations about estate planning. What happens when Mom dies? Does anyone know where Dad kept his will? Did they ever transfer the investment accounts into their revocable living trust like they were supposed to?
Many families don’t ask these tough questions … especially when dynamics are strained, like in many second-marriage families or when siblings don’t get along well. It certainly isn’t easy to blurt out after passing the gravy, “Hey Dad, does your will put me or your wife in charge of your estate?”
But these conversations are important. When the proper estate planning isn’t done, it’s the family members left behind who pay the price, often with bitter, ugly, and costly probate court battles. They happen to families all Read more...