What’s In Store For Robin Williams’ Estate and Family?

The initial shock of Robin Williams’ tragic death, apparently from hanging himself, is giving way to reflections of his memory and legacy. Another question many people are asking is what happens next for his family. He was survived by his third wife, Susan Schneider, to whom he was married for three years, and three adult children from his prior two marriages, whose ages range from 22 to 31. There is a realistic fear that Williams’ death left may have left them in financial distress.  Robin Williams Estate

In an interview with Parade Magazine in 2013, Williams lamented how he was required to change his lifestyle because of how much he lost in his two divorces (reportedly, $30 million). He said he returned to TV because of “bills to pay.” Williams also admitted to listing his Napa Valley estate for sale because he could no longer afford it.

Robin Williams’ publicist recently said that he was not in financial trouble and his comments were not to be taken seriously.  Regardless of whether his publicist Read more...

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Celebrity Legacies: Jim Morrison’s Will Leads To Estate Battle

Who opened the door to battles over the Jim Morrison Estate?  Who won … and what did they win when the dust settled?  And does drinking your loved one’s blood constitute a valid marriage ceremony?Jim Morrison estate

This is installment #2 of our weekly 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.

Doors front-man Jim Morrison died young at just 27 years of age, in 1971, from a heroin overdose. While his estate had limited cash when Morrison died, the assets in his estate became worth around $80 million.

Jim Morrison’s Estate

Despite his young age, hard-partying lifestyle, and free spirit, Jim Morrison took some steps to protect his estate … sort of.  Two years before he died, Morrison created a will.  It was a simplistic and poorly-drafted will, but a valid will nonetheless.

At least, it appeared to be valid initially.  It left everything to Read more...

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Celebrity Legacies TV Show Premieres With James Gandolfini

We all know about the estates of Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith, right?  But what about Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, and John F. Kennedy, Jr.?  This week, the Reelz Channel premiered a new television series called Celebrity Legacies.  The documentary series explores a different celebrity each week, discussing their legacies, estates, and what they left behind:  Feuding heirs? Mounting debt?  Or a golden legacy glittered with fame and fortune?  Edie Falco, James Gandolfini, The Sopranos

The premiere episode delved into James Gandolfini.  The late Soprano’s star died shockingly in 2013, leaving behind two young children — from two different marriages — and an estate plan that was, well, not exactly perfect.

We appear on each of the 26 episodes of Celebrity Legacies, providing legal and financial commentary and analysis.  On the premiere, we talked about how James Gandolfini’s will was initially done as a Band-Aid measure, after his daughter was born.  Instead of using a revocable living trust to keep his affairs private and outside of probate Read more...

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Philip Seymour Hoffman Highlights Five Myths About Trusts

He may have been a brilliant actor, but Philip Seymour Hoffman had much to learn when it came to estate planning.  Reports surfaced last week that the former Oscar winner repeatedly rejected the advice of his attorney and accountant, both of whom advised him to create a trust.  He said he didn’t want his three children to be “trust funds kids.”  Philip Seymour Hoffman Highlights Five Myths About Trusts

Instead, he felt their mother — and his longtime girlfriend — would take care of them.  He viewed Mimi O’Donnell much like a wife, although he did not believe in marriage.

Sadly, because of Hoffman’s aversion to proper estate planning, his 34 million dollar estate faces a huge estate tax bill and other problems that could (and should) have been avoided if he had listened to the legal and financial advice he was given. Hoffman’s girlfriend and children would have been much better off if he had done the proper estate planning, with a revocable living trust (at the very least).

Philip Seymour Hoffman Didn’t Want Trust Fund Kids

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Lou Reed Walked On The Wild Side With His Estate Planning

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, Lou Reed was the man who famously crooned, “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.”  The late lead singer and guitarist of The Velvet Underground — and of course, a musician and songwriter with a successful, decades-long solo career — may have been a bit wild at times.  But that doesn’t explain why he would be so careless with his estate plan.  This is a man with an estate worth more than $30 million — perhaps substantially more, in fact.  Lou Reed. Schinitzer Concert Hall Portland, OR

Recent filings with the Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan (that’s probate court, for us non-New Yorkers) show that Lou Reed’s estate has already earned $20,379,169 (give or take a few bucks) since he passed away from liver disease on October 27, 2013, at the age of 71.  This is only the income that Lou Reed’s estate has brought in since his death, from his copyright, publishing and performance royalties and other deals put together under the skillful management of his longtime manager Read more...

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Casey Kasem Teaches Lessons On End Of Life Planning And Elder Abuse

It appears that the life of famed Top 40 Countdown host Casey Kasem is nearly at an end.  On Wednesday, a Los Angeles Judge ruled that Casey Kasem’s daughter, Kerri Kasem, could suspend the artificial delivery of food and water to Casey due to his grave suffering.  Casey Kasem

Specifically, according to the Los Angeles Times, Kerri Kasem’s attorney filed documents with the court reporting the doctors’ conclusion that “continuation of artificial nutrition and hydration is not in the patient’s best interests because it will at best prolong the dying process for him and will certainly add suffering to an already terribly uncomfortable dying process.”

On Tuesday, the same Judge granted the request of Casey’s wife, Jean Kasem, who asked that Kerri be ordered to resume infusions of food, water and medicine for the ailing Casey.  He has been hospitalized in critical condition with sepsis (serious infections that have reached the blood stream), other infections, bed sores, and late-stage dementia from Lewy Body disease, among other complications.

Judge Allows For Casey

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How Donald Sterling’s Wife Cut Him Out Of The Clippers Sale Decision

It seems that everyone wanted Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team, after his racist remarks about Magic Johnson and African Americans became public knowledge.  The NBA Commissioner, owners, players, Clipper fans, and Sterling’s own family did everything in their power to force him out.  Last week, the news broke that Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, reportedly accomplished what everyone wanted — an agreement has been reached for the Clippers to be sold for a reported $2 billion dollars to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

But how did Shelly manage to do this without going to court — which would undoubtedly air Sterling family dirty laundry that no one in the Sterling family or the NBA would want to see made public?

CNN source: Shelly Sterling to handle Clippers sale

Reportedly, Shelly Sterling relied on a fairly standard provision in the Sterling family trust, which owns and controls the Sterling’s interest in the Clippers.  According to ESPN and others, Shelly and Donald were co-trustees with equal authority Read more...

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Casey Kasem Is Missing! Could This Happen In Your Family?

Casey Kasem — the legendary voice of American Top 40 Countdown and numerous cartoon characters — has been kidnapped by his own wife while he suffers from advanced dementia, according to Kasem’s daughter, Kerri Kasem.   Casey’s wife, Jean Kasem, is accused of secreting away the 82-year old former DJ, in a move that could jeopardize his health, safety, and well-being.  Kerri told a California judge and various media outlets that her step-mother had fled the state with her husband of 30 years, in an attempt to avoid a Judge’s ruling about who would be Casey’s new conservator.  Casey Kasem

The ruling was made on Monday, after a long family feud over the care and control of Casey Kasem.  During the Monday court hearing, Kerri and her attorney obtained a temporary conservatorship over her father so that she can begin making decisions for him, such as where he lives, who he sees, and managing his medical care.  Unfortunately, she won’t be able to actually make any of these decisions — or even see Read more...

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Mickey Rooneys Estate Finds Peace, But Will It Last?

A mere five days after the Hollywood acting legend passed away in his sleep at the age of 93, the family of Mickey Rooney was set to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom to fight over where he should be buried. Just hours before the court hearing, the estate reached a settlement — hopefully putting an end to the troubling feud that surrounded Rooney’s family the last few years.  Mickey Rooneys Estate

On one hand, Rooney’s family fight should not be viewed as surprising. What else would be expected when a Hollywood icon dies with a new will disinheriting all nine of his children (from eight different marriages), his wife, and all of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren? But a closer look shows how this family feud was far from the typical inheritance squabble we often see when famous people die.

Mickey Rooney’s estate is reported to be worth a mere $18,000 at this point. While his successful acting career spanned more than 80 years, most of Rooney’s starring roles occurred during the movie Read more...

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Whitney Houston’s Family Is Fighting – Is Estate Money To Blame?

Whitney Houston’s family has been through its share of disagreements since the pop diva passed away on February 11, 2012.  Early on, there was trouble at the funeral, sparking concerns of a feud with Bobby Brown.  Recently, however, the trouble has centered around Nick Gordon.  Gordon was raised and treated like a son by Whitney Houston, from the time he was 12 years old.

Whitney Houston estate

Rather than looking at Whitney Houston’s Daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, as a sister, Gordon (now age 24) and Bobbi Kristina (who just turned 21) have recently gotten married.  The tabloids are having fun with that relationship!  Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston, reportedly called the relationship “incestuous” when they were dating.  Now that they are actually married, TMZ says Cissy was furious, but she hasn’t spoken publicly about it since then.

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