Tag Archives: Trusts

Walt Disney heirs embroiled in ugly family feud

Walt Disney World is a great vacation spot and a wonderful way to spend the holidays.  We just returned from there with our three children.  So it’s ironic that we recently learned about a messy court fight involving two of Disney’s grandchildren and their share of the massive Disney fortune.  Disney

Disney passed in 1966 at the age of 65.  He left behind two daughters and 10 grandchildren.  One of his two daughters, Sharon Mae Disney, had married and then divorced a real estate developer named Bill Lund.  Lund was the man who located and helped select Orlando, Florida as the site for Disney World.  Sharon and Bill had twins, born in 1970, named Michelle and Brad.

Sharon created trusts to pass on her share of the Disney fortune to her three children (her other child was from a prior marriage).  Under the trusts, the twins were entitled to substantial distributions.

How substantial?  In additional to yearly distributions of around one million dollars, they can each receive larger amounts, every 5 Read more...

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New legal battle coming for Michael Jackson Estate

The Los Angeles Times had an interesting article this past weekend about the Michael Jackson Estate and a new legal hurdle it faces.  The King of Pop certainly didn’t do much to make it easy for his estate executors or his heirs.  This development could add new fuel to the fire between his family and the music executive and lawyer in charge of his estate and trust. Michael Jackson Trial and Heirs

As we’ve written extensively about before, Michael’s mother, Katherine Jackson was in a nasty fight with the executors over control of the estate last year.  That is, they were feuding until Katherine dropped the legal challenge and stepped aside.  In fact, according to the LA Times article, she now feels executors John Branca and John McClain are doing “a very good job”.

The problem is she believes that the cash allowance of $7,000 to $8,000 per month, which the pair gives her from the estate, is not enough.  While the estate also pays other expenses for her as well as Michael’s

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Ronni Chasen Estate: Murdered Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen has missing will

Ronni Chasen was a top Hollywood publicist until she was brutally shot and murdered on November 16, 2010, in Beverly Hills, California.  She left behind no children and no spouse, but a detailed will and assets valued at more than six million dollars.Chasen_ronni_publicist

You can download and read Ronni Chasen’s 51-page will here, courtesy of Eonline.

The police reportedly have solid leads related to the slaying of the 64-year old, after they approached a hitman named Harold Smith.  Smith shot himself as police approached to apprehend him.

While the drama surrounding her death certainly overshadows Ronni Chasen estate, there could be some conflict arising there as well.  Chasen’s will leaves most of her wealth to one of her nieces, while the other niece was left only $10.

That niece, Jill Gatsby, told E! News:

That’s a real family secret regarding Ronni and my career as a writer which I am choosing to keep to myself at this time.

She implies that this secret relates to why she was

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Dementia claims baseball legend Sparky Anderson

Former baseball manager George “Sparky” Anderson, a Hall of Fame coach who led both the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds to World Series titles, died on November 4, 2010 because of complications from dementia.  He was 76 years old.  Sparky was a truly-beloved sports figure who will be sorely missed, as described in this article from the Detroit Free Press. Sparky

His death comes during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month.  Dementia is most often caused by Alzheimer’s disease and is a growing epidemic in our country.  In fact, every 70 seconds, someone else in America develops Alzheimer’s disease.  It now affects over 5.3 million Americans.

When families have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, good estate planning becomes even more important.  Often, people with early stages of dementia can still do the proper legal planning and protect their financial affairs.

Other times, seniors with Alzheimer’s or similar conditions are targeted by unscrupulous family members, caregivers, or others who improperly influence them to change their wills, trusts, Read more...

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Dennis Hopper estate battle moving into high gear

It’s ironic that the estate of the actor made famous through the movie Easy Rider is proving to be anything but an easy ride.  On one side sits Dennis Hopper’s fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper.  On the other sit his trustees and children, spearheaded by daughter Marin Hopper.  Marin is the oldest daughter and is five years older than her “step-mother”.  Think there’s some bad blood there?  Dennis Hopper estate

You bet there is.  Before Hopper died, he filed for divorce.  His wife claimed this move was driven by his children in an effort to cut her out of his estate plan.  According to the couple’s prenuptial agreement, if they were divorced or no longer living together, then she would not inherit 25% of his estate and life insurance worth $250,000.

At first, it was reported that Duffy-Hopper would argue that they were still living together because the judge in their divorce case permitted her to remain on the same property with him, but in separate houses.  That was clearly an uphill battle. 

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Bill Davidson’s estate settles lawsuits

The Detroit Free Press featured an article recently about the lawsuits surrounding the estate of the late owner of the Detroit Pistons, Bill Davidson.  You can read our prior article about the estate here.Bill Davidson and Pistons

The estate of the late Bill Davidson has been the target of at least three lawsuits seeking to wrest at least $20 million from the fortune left by the billionaire businessman and owner of the Detroit Pistons — a hazard that one attorney said is the result of being very rich and dead.

Of the three suits filed in Oakland County Circuit Court, all have been quietly settled, according to court records and attorneys involved. Details of the settlements have not been revealed.

Forbes magazine had estimated Bill Davidson’s fortune in 2009 at $5.5 billion.

With an estate that big, it’s no surprise that fights would arise over it, said Andrew Mayoras, a Troy probate litigation attorney who writes a blog on the estate disputes of famous people.

“In this economy, it’s more and more

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Gary Coleman estate battles about to heat up

It’s been a relatively-quiet couple of months in the Gary Coleman estate, after the two weeks of craziness that followed his sudden death on May 28, 2010.  It looks like that’s about to change.Gary Coleman estate

A short recap:  Coleman’s ex-wife, Shannon Price, used her medical power of attorney document to terminate Coleman’s life support, which upset his estranged parents.  They then filed to open his estate, saying he died without a will, and stopped Price from planning his funeral.

But there was a will.  Coleman’s ex-manager, Dion Mial, came forward with a 1999 will naming him as the executor in charge.  But wait!

There was a later will, in 2005, naming Coleman’s female friend and former companion, Anna Gray as the one to be in charge of his estate.  So she’s in control, right?  No!

Price says she has a handwritten amendment to the will, from 2007, naming her as the executor and the beneficiary.  She claims Coleman actually wanted her to inherit everything, even though they were divorced in 2008.  Read more...

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Lucille Ball’s daughter fights to save heirlooms

I Love Lucy star Lucille Ball died more than 20 years ago — on April 26, 1989, at the age of 77.  So why did her daughter rush to court last week to save awards, love letters and other personal items of the famous comedienne?Lucille_Ball

Reportedly, when Lucille passed, she left love letters between she and her first husband, Desi Arnaz, along with her lifetime achievement awards, photographs and other items to Lucille and Desi’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill.  But, apparently, Luckinbill never claimed the items from Lucille’s estate and lost them.

So they ended up in the hands of Susie Morton.  Morton is the widow of Gary Morton, who was Lucille Ball’s second husband.  After Lucille passed, these items, along with a Rolls-Royce, were passed to Gary Morton, and then onto Susie after Gary died.

Susie Morton placed the items up for sale at a Beverly Hills, California auction house, with the sale set to start this past Saturday, July 17, 2010.  When Luckinbill’s attorney threatened legal action to Read more...

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Forbes: Celebrity Death and Divorce Train Wrecks

Forbes.com recently featured an article we wrote about our celebrity-based Trial & Heirs‘ Top Five Estate Planning Tips for Divorcees.  Here’s a shortened version.  Go to Forbes.com for the full article: Forbes_home_logo

1. Update your will and/or trust. Life events like divorces are a critical time to update all estate planning documents with an experienced attorney.

Take the case of Gary Coleman.  Since his death, a variety of documents have surfaced purporting to be his will.  We know that Gary Coleman was divorced in 2008 from his wife, Shannon Price.  It was on an episode of Divorce Court after all!  The problem is that Price claims that she’s entitled to inherit all of Coleman’s assets based on a 2007 handwritten will and as his “common-law wife.”  Now it looks like the estate will be tied up in a long and nasty fight.  If Gary Coleman had an estate planning attorney draft a clear will after his divorce, the impending legal battle may have been avoided.

2. Don’t forget the Read more...

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Michael Jackson Estate Battles – the Year in Review

The one year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s shocking death on June 25, 2009 is upon us. While his music and thriller dance moves live on, unfortunately, so do the legal battles over his estate.  Let’s moonwalk backwards through the past 12 months to review the courtroom clashes and combative issues involving the King of Pop’s estate.

June 25, 2009 – Michael Jackson unexpectedly diesMichael Jackson Trial and Heirs at the age of 50 as he is about to embark on a comeback concert tour.

June 29 – Katherine and Joe Jackson, Michael’s parents, file to open the probate estate of Michael.  They allege that he died without a will and ask for Katherine to be appointed to administer his estate.  Katherine filed to be appointed as guardian of Michael’s three children the same day and is granted temporary authority to assume custody of them.

July 1 – John Branca, Michael’s former attorney, and John McClain, his former manager, file their own probate petition, asking the Judge to appoint them as executors of Michael’s estate

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