Monthly Archives: March 2012

Amy Winehouse Estate: Amy Didn’t Have a Will After All, But Did Have Millions

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.

Amy Winehouse will

Amy Winehouse in 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.   Read more...

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Zsa Zsa Gabor Family Feud Heads To Court

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...

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Whitney Houston’s Will Was Far From Perfect

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.

Whitney Houston's Will

Image via Wikipedia

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 Read more...

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Britney Spears’ Conservatorship: Oops! … Britney Spears’ Conservator Did It Again

The once-troubled pop star sure has been in the news a lot lately.  Settling lawsuits, postponing her wedding, negotiating to be a judge on The X Factor, putting one of her mansions up for sale.  It makes you wonder … is Britney Spears making any decisions about her life, or does her father, as her Conservator, decide everything?

Britney Spears conservatorship

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Several months ago, we wrote how her father, Jamie Spears, was using the conservatorship to insulate Britney from lawsuits, including one by a company called Brand Sense.  The company had sued Britney for breach of contract, after Team Britney cut Brand Sense out of profits from her perfume deal with Elizabeth Arden.  Because Britney had been declared mentally incompetent, which justified the conservatorship, her father and their attorneys were able to keep Britney from being questioned under oath in a deposition for the lawsuit.

Recently, they’ve settled the case and agreed to give Brand Sense a confidential amount of the profits.  The Daily Mail Read more...

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