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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Oscar Winners Teach Five Lessons On Estate Planning

The 2014 Oscars are complete.  Trial & Heirs looks back at past Oscar winners like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor, Heath Ledger, Frank Sinatra, and Marlon Brando.  Their estates illustrate important estate planning lessons that everyone can benefit from — even those who aren’t walking the red carpet at the Oscars.  Oscar Winner: Philip Seymour Hoffman Estate

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman Estate Planning Lesson:  You Can Be Creative With Your Will or Trust

There were many mistakes and pitfalls with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate (including no estate tax planning and his failure to use a revocable living trust, as we discuss in our article).  But, Hoffman — whose portrayal of Capote earned him the Best Actor Oscar in 2006 — didn’t do everything wrong.

He gets credit for a key component of estate planning that many people overlook: creativity.  Estate planning is not meant to be “fill in the blank” or “one-size fits all.”  You can use your will or trust to pass along your goals, values and moral beliefs.  Most people think wills and trusts Read more...

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Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Will Highlights 4 Estate Planning Pitfalls

Oscar-winning actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, died on February 2nd from a drug overdose.  Recently, his long-time girlfriend and mother of his three children, Marianne O’Donnell, filed to open Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate and to probate his will.  While there are many lessons that can be drawn from his will, there are four main estate planning pitfalls that serve as important lessons:

1.  Philip Seymour Hoffman Should Have Created A Revocable Living Trust.

Philip Seymour Hoffman will

The reason that Hoffman’s will is public and available for anyone to read (you can click here to read it for yourself), is because he relied on a will — and only a will — for his estate plan.  For most people with even a modest estate, revocable living trusts are critical.

Why?  When properly used, they help families avoid the costs, aggravation, and delays caused by the probate process.  Probate court proceedings are public record (meaning anyone can read the will — even your nosy neighbor!), and are expensive, difficult to maneuver without an attorney, and Read more...

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Five Estate Planning Lessons From The Paul Walker Estate

Paul William Walker IPaul Walker EstateV was the star of the Fast & Furious movies, until his unfortunate — and ironic — death in a high-speed car accident on November 30, 2013.  The car, in which Walker was a passenger, was found to have been doing at least 100 mph.  Walker was 40 years old when he died, survived by his parents and his 15-year old daughter, Meadow Rain Walker.

Recently, Paul Walker’s father filed to open the estate, including Walker’s Last Will and Testament, which you can read here: Read Paul Walker’s Will.  It sheds some interesting information about the Paul Walker Estate and highlights some valuable estate planning lessons.

First, the probate filing and will reveal that Walker had assets of about 25 million dollars, including 8 million in personal property (which would include cash and investments), $8.5 in expected income, and another $8.5 million in real estate (after subtracting mortgages).

Second, the filing shows that Walker had a revocable living trust, benefiting his daughter as the sole Read more...

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Sarah Hershberger Guardianship Case: Exploring Parents’ Rights To Make Medical Decisions

To most parents, the question of whether the government should intervene to dictate how a child should be raised is an easy one. Parents, not the court system, should decide what is best for their children — in the absence, of course, of abuse or neglect. But does that change when a child’s life is on the line?  Sarah Hershberger Guardianship Case

That is the difficult question facing a court of appeals in Ohio regarding Sarah Hershberger.  What are the constitutional rights of parents to make life-or-death medical decisions for their child?  What if the decision the parents make flies in the face of conventional medicine and, according to traditional doctors, means the child will die in less than a year?

Sarah Hershberger Guardianship Case

Sarah Hershberger is the eleven-year-old daughter of Andy and Anna Hershberger, who are Amish.  The family lives in an Amish community near a small town outside of Cleveland.  At least, they did until recently.  Because the Ohio court system appointed a guardian over Sarah — for the sole purpose Read more...

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Andy Warhol Farrah Fawcett Portrait Trial Ends In Ryan ONeal’s Favor

Farrah Fawcett’s estate planning wishes have been at the center of a number of lawsuits, as we describe in this article about Ryan O’Neal.  O’Neal was sued by the University of Texas, which claimed that he wrongfully removed the famed Andy Warhol Farrah Fawcett painting from her home after she died.  O’Neal defended himself, saying that this copy of the painting was his and he had permission to take it back after Fawcett died.  Farrah-Fawcett-Portrait-by-Andy-Warhol

The University of Texas disagreed, suing O’Neal back in 2011.  The University’s lawyers felt that, because Fawcett’s revocable living trust left all of her artwork to the University, it should be the rightful owner of the Farrah Fawcett paining, not O’Neal.  It turns out there were actually two copies of the famed portrait, and the University already received one of them.  But it sued O’Neal for the other one too.

The case proceeded to trial last month, lasting three weeks.  O’Neal called several witnesses, including former friends of Fawcett and her former caregiver, who Read more...

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Trial and Heirs Top Tips For The New Year

It’s the beginning of the year, which means that we all have well-intended New Year’s resolutions.  The diet, the exercise regimen, saving money…and finally doing our estate and financial planning.  The celebrity stories in Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! can help motivate you to actually do your planning in 2014.  Really!

Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!

Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!

Here are some of our easy-to-use tips for the new year:

1.  Get your financial affairs organized in 2014.  Create an “asset” list, including the account numbers, names of financial institutions, and related information for your insurance, stocks, bonds, CDs, securities, bank accounts and other investments.

2.  Store your asset list and your estate planning documents in a fireproof box, safe, or safety deposit box.  Remember to make sure that your loved ones can find and access these documents!  We have an Estate Planning Organizer to help you with this.  Just email us at contact@trialandheirs.com if you want to learn more.

3.  Review and update your estate planning documents and your Read more...

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Access Hollywood Explores Britney Spears Conservatorship

Access Hollywood featured a segment about the Britney Spears Conservatorship. The show examined how the successful entertainer can headline a new multi-million dollar Las Vegas show and mentor young singers as an X Factor Judge, yet not be deemed competent enough to manage her basic life decisions like food, clothing and shelter.

Danielle and Andy Mayoras of Trial & Heirs served as experts for the segment. After watching the segment, what do you think?  Does Britney Spears still need the protection of a conservator — almost six years after the legal proceeding started — or is this all about the money? Watch Access Hollywood’s segment on the Britney Spears Conservatorship:

Access Hollywood. Dec. 19. 2013 – Short clip from Trial And Heirs on Vimeo.

By Danielle and Andrew Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!  For the latest celebrity and high-profile cases, with tips to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your clients, click here to subscribe to The Trial & Heirs Update.  You can  Read more...

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Will Nelson Mandela’s Heirs Tarnish His Legacy Through Greed And Fighting?

Nelson Mandela left behind an unparalleled legacy of peace, dignity, and selflessness.  If early reports are accurate, some of his children and grandchildren don’t exactly subscribe to the same value system.   When you think of the man who spent 27 years in jail to bring down apartheid, do you think of clothing lines, reality TV shows, or a wine label?  Probably not.  But those are a few of the ways that Mandela’s heirs have used his name to profit.

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gaute...So perhaps it was no surprise that his children and grandchildren began fighting, even before the South African champion of equal rights passed.  Mandela’s eldest grandson, Mandla Mandela, was accused of shady maneuvering, hoping to make his gravesite into a profitable tourist attraction.  This summer, the New York Times reported that Mandla was sued by other Mandela family members because he felt, as the eldest grandchild, he should decide where Nelson Mandela should be laid to rest.

The problem?  Mandla’s dream of a tourist site built around the body of his Read more...

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Casey Kasem’s Children and Wife Locked In Fight Over Conservatorship

For many years, kids across America listened to Casey Kasem, both as the legendary host of American Top 40 and as the voice to many cartoon characters including Shaggy of Scooby-Doo fame and Batman-sidekick Robin from Super Friends.  But now, his own kids say they don’t even get to listen to him — or even see him for that matter.  And it’s led to an ugly family feud in court.

Casey Kasem and Jean Kasem / Getty

Casey and Jean Kasem / Getty

The 81-year old Casey Kasem suffers from advanced Parkinson’s disease and is essentially bedridden.  He cannot walk without assistance and may have diminished mental capacity.  His wife of more than 30 years, Jean, has barred Kasem’s children from his first marriage, and other friends and family members (such as his younger brother) from visiting or speaking with Kasem.

In order to pressure Jean to allow them to see Kasem, daughters Kerri Kasem and Julie Kasem, with more than a dozen friends and family members, held a protest in front of the Kasem home.  When Read more...

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