When British pop star George Michael, 53, whose full name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, died on Christmas Day, 2016, he was discovered by his lover, Fadi Fawaz. Tensions around George Michael’s estate have been building between Fawaz and Michael’s surviving family members, which include his two sisters and his father, ever since that day.
According to reports from England, Michael’s family members want nothing to do with Fawaz, to the point that he is not even welcome at the funeral. After months of delays before Michael’s body was released, during which it was determined he died of natural causes related to a heart condition, Michael’s sisters are planning a small, private ceremony at a 30-seat chapel.
George Michael Died Of Natural Causes
Fawaz has complained that the family left him out of funeral plans and felt that he was being blamed for George Michael’s death, until the final determination of how he died was made public. George Michael’s cousin said it was Fawaz who snubbed the family, not the other Read more...
So much trouble caused by such a simple concept. When you create a will, you decide who receives your assets after you die. If you don’t, the laws of the state you live in determine it. What happens when those laws aren’t too clear? Chaos. And the Prince estate is experiencing it in full force.
Maybe it’s fitting for the estate of the man who sang, “Let’s Go Crazy.”
Prince’s estate — reported to be worth as much as $300 million dollars before taxes — is tied up in the early stages of a long battle over who really are his heirs. Still? Didn’t the judge already resolve that months ago?
Originally, it appeared so. Dozens of people came forward claiming to be Prince’s son, daughter, or other relative. The DNA did not support them, and the judge denied their claims. He determined that Prince’s full sister and five half-siblings all qualified as heirs. He ordered the other two, a reported niece and grand-niece, to undergo DNA testing as well. Read more...
The death of Gene Wilder saddened Willa Wonka fans across the globe — not to mention fans of Blazin’ Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and many others. When his family issued a statement saying that Alzheimer’s disease claimed his life, it served as a valuable lesson. Alzheimer’s disease is a killer. As Wilder’s family aptly described it, it’s an “illness-pirate.”
Gene Wilder is far from the first famous actor to fall victim to Alzheimer’s. Jimmy Stewart, Peter Falk, Charlton Heston, and Rita Hayworth are just a few others. And of course the disease has attacked celebrities from many different industries, including Hollywood producers like Aaron Spelling, politicians like Ronald Reagan, singers like Etta James and Glen Campbell, and sports celebrities like basketball coach Pat Summitt and ball manager Sparky Anderson.
Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. It always leads to death. While the official cause-of-death for most celebrities who suffered from the disease is usually listed as another affliction, such as a pneumonia or sepsis, Alzheimer’s disease Read more...
While the final Tom Clancy estate battle may not have been as exciting as the climactic scenes in The Hunt for Red October or Patriot Games, the struggle between author Tom Clancy’s widow and four adult children over his $86 million estate is now over. The seven justices on the Maryland Court of Appeals (the highest court in Maryland) were asked to rule about what a key clause in the codicil to Clancy’s will actually meant. While it was close — four votes to three — the ruling marked a decisive victory for Clancy’s widow.
Considering that Tom Clancy is one of the best-selling authors of all time, it is ironic that the fight boiled down to how to interpret a clause in his estate planning documents that was written in an unclear manner.
The dispute centered around a provision in Clancy’s second codicil (which means amendment) to his will. The will, originally signed in 2007, divided Clancy’s assets into three trusts: one-third for his wife, another third for Read more...
Muhammad Ali was never one to shy away from battles. From heavyweight champions in the boxing ring, to the United States Government, and to the ravaging effects of Parkinson’s disease, Ali continued to fight. Now there are growing fears that the fight will follow him into the grave, with mounting reports of trouble on the horizon for his estate and his legacy.
The circumstances are ripe for an estate battle. Muhammad Ali fathered nine recognized children (including his adopted son from his most recent marriage) over the course of four different marriages. Estate disputes between the surviving spouse and children from prior marriages are the most common source of trouble in probate courts across our country. Add in the reality of Ali’s long-standing struggles with Parkinson’s disease — which can have not only physical effects, but mental as well — and there is a strong possibility that unhappy heirs may file challenges in court.
Muhammad Ali’s Estate Could Be Worth More After His Passing
And, of course, there is the Read more...
Prince died without a will. So did Tupac Shakur, Bob Marley, and many other legendary musicians. Snoop Dogg doesn’t even want a will.
The question is: Why?
It seems like such a basic concept; everyone needs a will. Otherwise the laws of the state you live in determine who receives your assets and controls your legacy after you die. Without a will, you have no say in what happens, and the chances of a family fight increase dramatically.
Even though a will is relatively simple to create, studies consistently show that between 60% and two-thirds of adult Americans don’t have a will. All states recognize a “holographic” will, which is one in your own hand-writing. They are perfectly valid as long as a couple basic conditions are met. This is not to say they are perfect by any means, but usually better than nothing. And most lawyers can create a basic will for a few hundred dollars or even less.
Even when an estate is modest is size, dying intestate Read more...
Despite the probate process having just begun for Prince’s Estate, one thing is clear — it will be a long and rocky road for everyone involved.
While no one can dispute the artistic and creative greatness of the artist whose real name was Prince Rogers Nelson, the famed singer’s business smarts were often overlooked. Prince closely maintained and guarded ownership and control over the rights to his music, including the publishing rights, master recordings, performance royalties, and more. He famously stored hundreds of unreleased songs in his “vault”, to be released only when he wanted them to be made public.
The value of this music cannot be known until the contents of the vault are revealed, but estimates of Prince’s net worth based the earnings and future royalty rights to music already released range from $300 million to $500 million.
Those figures may be too low. His music sales have already soared by more than 16,000% in the days following his sudden death. That bump could only be the beginning. Read more...
Tupac Shakur was well-known for his “Thug” image, his rap prowess, and his many conflicts — leading up to the tragic shooting that took his life at age 25. So should anyone be surprised at the high number of legal battles involving Tupac Shakur’s estate? Or that Shakur could continue to be a pioneer in rap music, even years after his death?
This is installment #17 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.
Tupac Shakur came to fame in large part due to his battles with police, inspiring lyrics in his first solo release so violent that Dan Quayle publicly denounced them — building Shakur’s “Thug” image in the process. In the same time frame, he was arrested five times for violent crimes, leading to numerous criminal charges and civil lawsuits, culminating in a confrontation during which he was shot multiple Read more...
What better way to start the new year than by counting down Trial & Heirs Top Ten Celebrity Legal Battles of 2015, complete with lessons?
- Bill Cosby vs. many woman – Andrea Constad is one of dozens of women who have sued Cosby for defamation, accusing the comedian and actor of lying when he denied sexually abusing them years ago. In Constad’s civil lawsuit, Cosby’s deposition was unsealed, revealing that he admitted giving women quaaludes and having intercourse with them. He says both the drug use and sex were consensual. Recently, a Pennsylvania district attorney brought charges against Cosby for sexual assault based on the 2004 encounter with Constad.
Bill Cosby: A History of Alleged Rapes and Cover-Ups
Lesson: When victims of assault or other injuries wait too long, they lose the right to sue under the statute of limitations. The specific length of time varies based on what state the events happened in and what type of claim is brought. That’s why most of the accusers are suing Cosby
James Dean was the iconic rebel without a cause. The James Dean Estate, on the other hand, has been driven by a cause — maximizing the value of his image and likeness. But was it taken too far when his heirs sued Twitter?
This is installment #16 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.
Perhaps no Hollywood legend has lasted so long, and left such an impact, as James Dean. After dying in a tragic car crash at age 24, in 1955, Dean continued to appear among the top of highest earning deceased celebrities year after year, including being in the top ten as recently as 2012, when his estate earned about five million dollars. Not bad for actor who only starred in three major films.
James Dean died without a will, leaving his estate and financial legacy to his father Read more...