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...
It’s rough being Mick Jagger sometimes. Even as the front man for the famed Rolling Stones, he Can’t Always Get What he Wants. But when he tries, at least sometimes, he just might find … that he gets what he needs. These days, what Sir Mick (as he is known officially in England) truly needs is some peace and quiet … and a little privacy. Is it too much to ask to Get Off of his Cloud?
Sir Mick took a beating in the media last week when a lawsuit that he had hoped to keep quiet became very public. That is what often happens with lawsuits involving those in the public eye, especially in this digital age. In many courts across the country — federal courts especially, but more and more probate and other states courts too — anyone who knows how to track down the electronic court records and is willing to pay a small cost can read all the juicy details about court battles from the comforts Read more...
It has been more than twenty years since Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, died from a shotgun blast to his head, at age 27. His talent, passion, and creativity launched a new movement for not only rock music, but American culture itself.
Cobain was a game-changer who burned too bright — brighter than he could handle. Kurt Cobain suicide note summarized it well: “I don’t have the passion anymore, and so remember, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
Cobain’s death may have epitomized the burning out of a flame that grew too hot, but it sparked something else — court fights and ugly battles over his legacy that continued for almost 20 years.
This is installment #7 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.
Kurt Cobain Estate – Celebrity Legacies
His widow, Courtney Love, has been Read more...
Even though she was 81 years old when she died on September 4th, there is no denying that Joan Rivers died too soon. She continued to entertain with an energy level that suggested she was anything but eighty-something. Melissa Rivers has now hired a law firm to find out exactly why Joan died … and who, if anyone, should be held responsible.
Representatives for Melissa Rivers told E! News and others that she retained a New York law firm to “fully determine all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Joan Rivers.” Other reports state that the law firm is sending letters to the medical center that performed the surgery which led to Joan Rivers death, as well as the doctors’ offices involved, demanding they preserve their records and phone logs. This is the first step in the long process of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Melissa Rivers Retains Powerhouse Attorneys For Death of Joan Rivers
Next, Melissa Read more...
MarketWatch.com recently featured an interesting article about the benefits that families gain by having the estate planning conversation early. Not only does it improve family relationships, it helps sets the stage and prepares family members for facing the difficult issues caused by a loved one who ages or passes away.
Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!
The article noted how a UBS Wealth Management study recently found that only 43% of affluent Americans felt that having this conversation with their heirs was a pressing issue. That’s surprising because experts predict that between now and the year 2050, the largest wealth transfer in U.S. history will occur: a whopping 30 trillion dollars.
The problem is that having this conversation is seldom easy. Who wants to sit around talking about legal and financial planning for when someone dies or becomes incapacitated? Most family members are too busy with the stress of their daily work and personal routines to worry about talking to loved ones about death and dying.
While the MarketWatch article Read more...