Anyone who likes to go hiking, biking or camping probably knows what Gore-Tex is. The breathable, waterproof fabric made W.L. Gore and Associates into a huge success. The privately-held company hit #134 in Forbes’ most recent list of America’s largest private companies, with an estimated $3 billion in annual revenue.
Founder Bill Gore passed away in 1986 and his widow, Genevieve Gore, died on January 20, 2005. The couple, way back in 1972, finalized a trust to pass most of their stock in the company onto the children, and ultimately their grandchildren. They smartly planned ahead, realizing how valuable their Gore-Tex invention could become and how much growth their stock could achieve. So they funded the trust through a holding company, early on, to minimize estate taxes.
Wanting to treat their heirs equally, the Gores set up five equal shares, for their five children. They created a supplemental trust so that each of the grandchildren could receive an equal amount of stock as well.
The plan worked very well … Read more…
By all accounts, actor Gary Coleman had a difficult life after his days as the childhood star of Diff’rent Strokes. He was estranged from his parents and died — nearly broke — at the age of 42. While he was married at one time, he said in a TV interview that he remained a virgin, even after his marriage. So what kind of marriage was it?
Not a very happy one, according to a Utah judge who recently issued a ruling to decide who gets to administer, and ultimately inherit, what little constitutes Gary Coleman’s Estate. The lawsuit pitted Gary Coleman’s ex-wife, Shannon Price — who said she actually was still his wife until he died — against Coleman’s friend and former head of his corporation, Anna Gray.
Gary Coleman Estate Battle
In 2005, Gary Coleman signed a will naming Gray as his executor and beneficiary. But Coleman married Price in 2007, and then signed a handwritten codicil to the will (“codicil” means amendment to a will) in Read more…
One of Reese Witherspoon’s more famous roles was as the perky young attorney in Legally Blonde. Late last week, she accompanied her parents to court in a much more somber setting.
Reese Witherspoon’s father, Dr. John Draper Witherspoon, was recently married. At least, that’s what a newspaper in Nashville, Tennessee announced. You can read the big announcement and see the happy couple’s wedding photo here.
While John doesn’t exactly look happy in the picture, the announcement reveals that they will reside together in Nashville, following the intimate ceremony that featured cowboy boots and yellow roses, based on their Texas heritage. The festivities took place on January 14th, and the couple plans a celebration with friends and family for the summer.
Reese Witherspoon’s Father Sued For Bigamy
There’s just one problem. Reese’s 70-year old father, John, was never divorced from Reese’s mother, Mary. While they’ve been living apart for the last 16 years, they still are married. Mary says she still loves her husband of 42 years, Read more…
The chairman of the Samsung Group, Lee Kun-hee, comes in at number 106 on Forbes’ list of the world’s top billionaires, with a reported net worth of $8.3 billion, as of March. But did he acquire some of that fortune illegally from his late father’s trust? That’s what his brother and sister accuse him of in a recent lawsuit that is growing uglier by the day.
In February, Kun-hee’s older brother, Lee Maeng-hee, filed the suit in Seoul, South Korea. Now joined by two other family members, the lawsuit claims that when their father, Samsung Group founder Lee Byung-chull, died in 1987, he left millions of shares in Samsung Life Insurance (the world’s 14th largest insurance company) as well as preferred stock in Samsung Electronics and cash, in trust. Specifically, he placed the asset into the name of Samsung executives for the benefit of his family. Lee Kun-hee then wrongfully took the stock and cash and transferred it into his own name, rather than dividing it among the heirs as Read more…
The music world has been buzzing ever since the surprise appearance of Tupac Shakur — well, that is, a digitally-created 3-D image of Tupac — on stage to rap at the Coachella music festival in California. Some have described this as creepy, like seeing a ghost. Is this going to be a new trend for celebrity estates? Should it be?
First, there is the issue of legality. Was it legal for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg to bring Tupac’s image on stage? Because this was a use of Tupac’s image and likeness for commercial purposes, only the holder of the “right of publicity” for Tupac could authorize it. That right is owned by Tupac’s estate, under the control of the executor — his mother, Afeni Shakur.
Reportedly, she not only authorized it, but was thrilled with the outcome. Dr. Dre repaid the estate for this permission with a contribution to the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, which is Tupac’s charity.
Dr. Dre has already said he’d love to bring out other Read more…
The New York Times recently featured a fascinating article called The Battle for a Comic-Book Empire That Archie Built. It detailed the ongoing legal battle over the two dueling CEO’s of Archie Comic Publications.
On one side is Jonathan Goldwater, the son of John L. Goldwater who was one of three founders of the company and the visionary behind the Archie character, created in 1941. Goldwater became a co-CEO and controller of one-half interest in the company after his half-brother, Richard Goldwater, died in 2007.
Nancy Silberkleit is the widow of the son of another founder, Louis Silberkleit. She was a schoolteacher who became co-CEO when her husband, Michael Silberkleit, died in 2008. By that time, a long-time employee and editor-in-chief, Victor Gorelick, was running the company as a temporary, stop-gap measure.
Goldwater and Silberkleit tried to work together to manage the company, agreeing in 2009 to run Archie Comics by sharing CEO duties. Silberkleit was to oversee scholastic and theatrical ventures, placing Goldwater in charge of everything else. Read more…
News broke last week about the Brooke Astor estate settlement. The renowned New York society queen and philanthropist, who died at age 105, left behind an estate of nearly $200 million dollars.
Brooke Astor’s assets — along with the $50 million charitable trust of her late husband — have been tied up since she passed in 2007. The fighting was so extensive that it dragged in a “who’s who” of top New York City institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library, Rockefeller University, and even the United Nations, among many others.
Under Astor’s 2002 will, her only son, Anthony Marshall, stood to inherit tens of millions of dollars, with most of it slated to pass to charity after he died. But Marshall wanted much more. He and a lawyer, Francis X. Morrissey, Jr., convinced the elderly Astor — when she was suffering from dementia — to sign a series of codicils to Astor’s 2002 will. These codicils would have allowed Marshall to leave Read more…
Shortly after Amy Winehouse passed away from accidental alcohol poisoning at the age of 27 last July, reports surfaced that she not only had a will, but she had the foresight to update her will after her divorce from ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil. These early reports have recently been proven wrong.
Probate records were recently filed showing that Winehouse died intestate, meaning without a valid will. The estate value is listed as £4,257,580 (worth about $6.7 million U.S.) in total assets, but taxes and other debts reduce the value to £2,944,554, or $4.66 million, U.S. Many believed her estate would be worth much more, perhaps as high as $15 to $20 million.
But, let’s not jump to conclusions so quickly. The assets passing through probate court are those left in her individual name when she died. So anything held jointly with someone else, or that had a beneficiary designation (like a life insurance policy), would pass outside of probate, directly to the other person. Also, if Winehouse had a trust — Read more…
Zsa Zsa Gabor’s daughter, Francesca Hilton, and 9th husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt have been fighting each other about Gabor’s finances and medical care for years. When von Anhalt announced that he wanted his 94-year old wife to be a “mother” again by seeking an egg donor, artificial insemination and a surrogate mother — which could make Gabor a mother, at least legally– we wrote that the fight was destined to end up in court through a conservator proceeding. The only surprise since then has been that it’s taken this long for Hilton to start the court case.
Her attorney filed the conservatorship paperwork in the Los Angeles probate court on March 20, 2012. Interestingly, the case was assigned to the same judge who is handling Britney Spears’ conservatorship. Hilton asks to be appointed as the conservator for her mother, which would give her the right to make Gabor’s medical, financial and other decisions under the supervision of the court, if she wins the case.
In her petition to Read more…
Whitney Houston’s will was recently revealed, after it was filed with the probate court to open her estate, in Atlanta, Georgia. As expected, it named Bobbi Kristina as Whitney’s sole beneficiary. Beyond that, it was surprising for several reasons.
First, the fact that Whitney relied on a will — signed back in 1993 no less — instead of a living trust is troubling. We’re talking about the woman who signed the largest recording contract in history! If anyone should have thorough estate planning, including a living trust, it was Whitney.
Why? Wills have to pass through probate court to be effective, which makes them public record. That’s why information about the contents of her will is all over the internet. Inside Edition, for example, posted a copy of the will, here. In addition to be public, probate can be expensive, time-consuming, and a breeding ground for family fights.
Living trusts, on the other hand, when properly-used, keep matters private and outside of probate court. Most people with even Read more…