Jenni Rivera was a singer-songwriter, actress and Telemundo TV star who died tragically on December 9, 2012 in a plane crash in Mexico. While well-known to fans of Latino music and Mexican TV, Rivera appeared poised to breakthrough to mainstream America due to a new TV show she was set to star in for ABC.
The 43-year old Rivera lived a turbulent life. She had her first child at age 15 and then married the father. They had two more children together, but it was a marriage of abuse and molestation. After the divorce, Rivera’s first husband was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in jail for child molestation.
Rivera married twice more and had two more children from her second marriage. Her third marriage, to professional baseball player Esteban Loaiza, also was ending. The couple filed for divorce on October 1, 2012, citing irreconcilable differences. There was a report that Rivera and her eldest daughter had been fighting because the daughter had an affair with Loaiza, but it’s a Read more…
Less than four weeks since its release, the movie Lincoln already has earned nearly $84 million at the box office. Chronicling Abraham Lincoln’s historic efforts to abolish slavery, the movie has garnered widespread critical and audience appeal.
At Trial & Heirs, however, we can’t help but think of another aspect of Abraham Lincoln’s life … he is one of the most notable examples of someone dying without a will. This got us thinking, and digging. What did happen to the Abraham Lincoln estate after he died?
According to a series of bulletins issued from the Abraham Lincoln Association, his family was understandably overcome with grief. By noon on the day he died, April 15, 1865, Lincoln’s oldest son, Robert, sent a telegram to Justice David Davis of the United States Supreme Court. Davis was a close friend of Lincoln and Robert considered Davis to be a “second father,” according to a letter Robert wrote years later. The telegram said, “Please come at once to Washington to take charge of Read more…
Whitney Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, and sister-in-law, Marion Houston, filed a request in court to change the terms of Whitney Houston’s will. They want to delay when Bobbi Kristina receives her inheritance in order to protect her.
The will created a “testamentary trust” for Bobbi Kristina. What is a testamentary trust? It’s when a will calls for money to be held in trust for one or more beneficiaries, usually so they can receive money spaced out over time instead of all at once. It’s far from perfect, as we discuss in this article, because a testamentary trust does not avoid probate, which can be expensive, messy and very public.
But that is not the biggest drawback to Whitney Houston’s will. Her biggest mistake was failing to update her will, even after her divorce from Bobby Brown, to better protect Bobbi Kristina. The will — signed on February 3, 1993 — provides that Bobbi Kristina will receive 10% of the estate when she turns age 21, another one-sixth Read more…
After The Monkees frontman, Davy Jones, died of a heart attack at age 66 on February 29, 2012, his family took the very unusual step of having Davy Jones Will and related probate court documents sealed — perhaps to shield family disharmony from public view.
Wills, unlike living trusts, are public court documents and generally available for the public to read. Because of this, you can find hundreds of celebrity wills online through simple internet searches (and it sure helped us write our book, Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!).
Davy’s family, led by his oldest daughter, Talia Jones — who has been named as the personal representative to administer the Davy Jones Estate — asked the Judge to seal the file. The request, according to this gossip website that obtained a copy of it, argued that the court should deny public access to his “planning documents and financial affairs as public opinion could have a material effect on his copyrights, royalties and ongoing goodwill.” The request was granted, Read more…
As two lawyers who have written about celebrity estates for years and hosted the national television special Trial and Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune! on PBS affiliates, we’ve noticed that stars often make the same big estate planning mistakes as people with very modest assets. It’s just the dollar amounts that differ.
Learn from their goofs and avoid repeating them yourself. That way, you’ll protect your loved ones and be sure your inheritance wishes are carried out.
These are the top four estate planning mistakes made by celebs — errors you’ll want to avoid:
1. No will. Most of us naturally want to be sure our assets are distributed properly after we pass away, so it’s surprising that almost two-thirds of adults don’t even have simple wills. Whether you have millions of dollars or just a modest estate, estate planning is critical — starting with a will.
Unfortunately for the family of Amy Winehouse, the singer didn’t have a will when she unexpectedly passed away at age 27, leaving Read more…
Fighting over estates is never pretty. These court battles are emotional, draining, and sometimes downright nasty for everyone involved. When they happen to the estate of a beloved American icon, it’s even more tragic.
Rosa Parks Estate has been embroiled in fighting since not long after she died on October 24, 2005 at the age of 92 in Detroit, Michigan. You can read about the long history of the court battle, which we summarized in this Trial & Heirs article. In short, the Michigan Supreme Court restored the rights of the primary beneficiaries to Rosa Parks’ estate plan, years after the probate court judge ordered that their rights had been forfeited. Finally, it seemed that the fighting had reached its end.
Instead, the battle actually turned uglier than before. The attorney representing those beneficiaries who rights were recently restored — Rosa Parks’ friend Elaine Steele and the charitable institute that Rosa Parks had created, which Steele operates — went on the attack again. He took the highly-unusual step of Read more…
Michael Jackson’s estate faced a tumultuous beginning three years ago after he unexpectedly died. First his mother, Katherine, and then his father, Joe, filed challenges against the executors of his Estate, John Branca and John McClain. Katherine backed off her attack and Joe’s case was thrown out of court.
Since then, the Estate has been relatively peaceful, at least on the surface. Branca and McClain have led the Estate from a debt-ridden start to enormous profits. They began around $500 million in the red when the King of Pop died. Three years later, Michael Jackson’s estate reported $475 million in profits.
Of course, Branca and McClain have enjoyed a huge financial windfall from this as well. They have a special arrangement, blessed by the probate judge who oversees the estate, allowing them to earn 10% from most deals they cut for the Estate. Branca and McClain are now facing a new attack over their handling of the Estate.
Several of Michael’s brothers and sisters — including Janet, Randy, Tito and Read more…
It’s estimated that one in twenty American homes have a Thomas Kinkade painting hanging on the walls. The self-named “Painter of Light” turned his gift of rendering landscapes and other words of art into a tremendous commercial endeavor. In fact, his numerous corporate holdings reportedly topped $100 million in annual sales some years, primarily due to mass reproduction of his works.
But the Painter of Light was not without his demons, primarily alcoholism and a failed marriage. He died suddenly at age 54 caused by “acute intoxication” from alcohol and Valium, on April 6, 2012. His wife, Nanette, had filed for divorce two years before, and the couple was legally separated. Kinkade died while living with his girlfriend of 18 months, Amy Pinto-Walsh.
The girlfriend and estranged wife began fighting almost immediately after Kinkade passed. Pinto-Walsh was kept from the funeral and slapped with a lawsuit for breach of a confidentiality agreement. The family wanted her to remain quiet and not share any personal details with the media.
Pinto-Walsh did Read more…
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…