Monthly Archives: August 2014

Celebrity Legacies: Whitney Houston No Stranger To Estate Trouble

Whitney Houston’s fortune bounced from sky-high to significant debt.  What did this mean for her estate?  And was it money — or something else — behind Whitney’s ugly legal battle with her “step-mother”? 

How exactly does Bobby Brown fit into all of this?

This is installment #4 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts.  See other articles in the series here.

Before Whitney Houston unexpectedly drowned in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub at age 48, on February 11, 2012, rumors circulated that she was in such financial trouble that she was nearly broke.  She reportedly died $20 million in debt.

How could that be possible for the singer who signed a $100 million record contract in 2001?  And 2001 doesn’t even rank as her most successful year!  In 1993, Whitney earned $33 million from The Bodyguard soundtrack and gave birth to her only child, Bobbi Kristina.

Whitney Houston

Read more...
| 2 Comments

Celebrity Legacies: The Anna Nicole Smith Estate Battle (a/k/a The Case That Never Ends)

So how long exactly does it take to resolve the dispute over the estate of an 89-year old Texas oil tycoon who married a 26-year old stripper and Playboy Playmate?  Shouldn’t the case end when both the stripper (Anna Nicole Smith) and her “step-son” (Pierce Marshall, who was 27 years older than she was) die?  Anna Nicole Smith Estate

And is this really important enough to be heard by the United States Supreme Court, not once, but twice?

This is installment #3 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts.  See other articles in the series here.

While we monitor, write about, and provide commentary for media outlets around the country about many complicated celebrity estates, this one takes the prize.  We call it “The Grand-Daddy Of All Estate Battles.”  We’ve written several articles about this case so far, which you can read here.

Celebrity Legacies on Reelz

How The Anna Nicole

Read more...
| Leave a comment

What’s In Store For Robin Williams’ Estate and Family?

The initial shock of Robin Williams’ tragic death, apparently from hanging himself, is giving way to reflections of his memory and legacy. Another question many people are asking is what happens next for his family. He was survived by his third wife, Susan Schneider, to whom he was married for three years, and three adult children from his prior two marriages, whose ages range from 22 to 31. There is a realistic fear that Williams’ death left may have left them in financial distress.  Robin Williams Estate

In an interview with Parade Magazine in 2013, Williams lamented how he was required to change his lifestyle because of how much he lost in his two divorces (reportedly, $30 million). He said he returned to TV because of “bills to pay.” Williams also admitted to listing his Napa Valley estate for sale because he could no longer afford it.

Robin Williams’ publicist recently said that he was not in financial trouble and his comments were not to be taken seriously.  Regardless of whether his publicist Read more...

| 3 Comments

Celebrity Legacies: Jim Morrison’s Will Leads To Estate Battle

Who opened the door to battles over the Jim Morrison Estate?  Who won … and what did they win when the dust settled?  And does drinking your loved one’s blood constitute a valid marriage ceremony?Jim Morrison estate

This is installment #2 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts.  See other articles in the series here.

Doors front-man Jim Morrison died young at just 27 years of age, in 1971, from a heroin overdose. While his estate had limited cash when Morrison died, the assets in his estate became worth around $80 million.

Jim Morrison’s Estate

Despite his young age, hard-partying lifestyle, and free spirit, Jim Morrison took some steps to protect his estate … sort of.  Two years before he died, Morrison created a will.  It was a simplistic and poorly-drafted will, but a valid will nonetheless.

At least, it appeared to be valid initially.  It left everything to his Read more...

| 1 Comment

Celebrity Legacies TV Show Premieres With James Gandolfini

We all know about the estates of Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith, right?  But what about Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, and John F. Kennedy, Jr.?  This week, the Reelz Channel premiered a new television series called Celebrity Legacies.  The documentary series explores a different celebrity each week, discussing their legacies, estates, and what they left behind:  Feuding heirs? Mounting debt?  Or a golden legacy glittered with fame and fortune?  Edie Falco, James Gandolfini, The Sopranos

The premiere episode delved into James Gandolfini.  The late Soprano’s star died shockingly in 2013, leaving behind two young children — from two different marriages — and an estate plan that was, well, not exactly perfect.

We appear on each of the 26 episodes of Celebrity Legacies, providing legal and financial commentary and analysis.  On the premiere, we talked about how James Gandolfini’s will was initially done as a Band-Aid measure, after his daughter was born.  Instead of using a revocable living trust to keep his affairs private and outside of probate Read more...

| Leave a comment