Category Archives: Trusts

Trouble Brewing Over George Michael Estate Between Family And Former Lover

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...

| Leave a comment

Tom Clancy Family Estate Dispute Resolved After Years Of Fighting

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.Tom Clancy Estate Dispute

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...

| Leave a comment

Battle Coming For Muhammad Ali Estate, But It May End In A Knock-Out

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.  Muhammad Ali Estate

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...

| Leave a comment

The David Bowie Estate Shows His Genius Extended Beyond Music

Only a very few pop artists enjoyed careers as diverse, colorful, and successful as David Bowie.  He remained fascinating and on the cutting-edge, up until the very end, in ways that extended far beyond making music.  David Bowie Estate

Bowie, whose real name was David Robert Jones (and who didn’t want to be confused with Davy Jones), passed away from liver cancer a mere two days after the release of his latest album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday.  Knowing that his cancer was terminable, many people believe Bowie intended his last album — featuring lyrics about mortality — to be a farewell.  In fact, the tract, Lazurus, begins with the line, “Look up here, I’m in heaven,” and ends with, “Oh, I’ll be free … Just like that bluebird … Oh, I’ll be free … Ain’t that just like me?”

It’s fair to say there was no one else like David Bowie.  He was truly one-of-a-kind, from his iconic music, various personas, and his ever-adapting image, to his finances.

David

Read more...
| Leave a comment

Bill Cosby Headlines The Top Ten Celebrity Legal Battles Of 2015

What better way to start the new year than by counting down Trial & Heirs Top Ten Celebrity Legal Battles of 2015, complete with lessons?

  1. 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

Read more...
| Leave a comment

Trial and Heirs Top Estate Planning Tips for 2016

It’s the beginning of the year, which means that we all have well-intended New Year’s resolutions.  The diet, the exercise regimen, saving money…and finally doing our estate planning and financial planning.  The celebrity stories in Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! can help motivate you to actually do your estate planning this year.  Really!

Here are some of our easy-to-use estate planning tips for the new year:

1.  Get your financial affairs organized this year.  Create an “asset” list, including the account numbers, names of financial institutions, and related information for your insurance, stocks, bonds, CDs, securities, bank accounts and other investments.

2.  Store your asset list and your estate planning documents in a fireproof box, safe, or safety deposit box.  Remember to make sure that your loved ones can find and access these documents!  We have an Estate Planning Organizer to help you with this.  Just email us at contact@trialandheirs.com if you want to learn more.

3.  Review and update your estate planning documents and your financial plan Read more...

| Leave a comment

Mark Zuckerberg And His Charitable Plan Deserve Praise, Not Scorn

As if founding Facebook  and reaching #16 on Forbes’ ranking of the world’s billionaires wasn’t impressive enough, Mark Zuckerberg – along with his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan — is out to change the world for generations to come.  But not everyone thinks his motives are pure.  Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg and Chan announced their decision to transfer 99% of their Facebook stock to a new charitable-based venture called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.  This will do this through a new limited liability company, with the stated purpose to “to join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation.”  The stock will be handed over throughout their lifetimes, with no more than one billion dollars in stock gifted or sold annually for the next three years, according to a recent Facebook filing with the SEC.  Zuckerberg and Chan write that the value of the stock, presently, is about $45 billion, but that will likely grow over time considering their youth (Zuckerberg is Read more...

| Leave a comment

Celebrity Legacies: No Easy Ride For Dennis Hopper’s Estate

When is a divorce more than just a divorce?  When famed actor Dennis Hopper battled through an ugly divorce against his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper, the battle was more about Dennis Hopper’s estate than anything else.  So perhaps no one should be surprised that the war turned uglier once Dennis died.  Dennis Hopper Estate

This is installment #15 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.

The Easy Rider star had anything but an easy ride during the last few months of his life.  He passed away from cancer at age 73, smack-dab in the middle of his divorce war with Victoria, who was actually six years younger than Dennis Hopper’s oldest daughter.

Dennis had filed for divorce, accusing Victoria of being insane, inhuman, and volatile.  Victoria responded by claiming that Dennis was not mentally competent and that his adult children from his prior marriages Read more...

| Leave a comment

Answering Questions About Whitney Houston’s Millions And Bobbi Kristina’s Death

After a six-month coma, the life of Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, has tragically ended.  Just how tragic her short life really was may not be known for some time.  But the details that have emerged are nothing short of heart-wrenching, if the allegations of a recently-filed lawsuit filed on behalf of Bobbi Kristina prove to be true.

Bobbi Kristina Brown and Nick Gordon at premiere of "Sparkle"

Bobbi Kristina Brown and Nick Gordon at premiere of “Sparkle”

According to that lawsuit, Whitney Houston’s millions were at the heart of this tragedy.  But what role did they really play in Bobbi Kristina’s death?

It was on January 31, 2015 that Bobbi Kristina was found unresponsive, unconscious, and face down in a bath tub.  That was nearly three years from the day her mother famously drowned, also in a bathtub.  Bobbi Kristina was placed into a medically-induced coma and reportedly suffered severe brain damage.

While various relatives made contradictory public statements over her condition, they cooperated enough to permit her father, Bobby Brown, and her aunt, Pat Houston, to serve Read more...

| Leave a comment

How The Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling Impacts Estate Planning

gay marriage ruling impacts estate planningAs gay, lesbian, and other proponents of same-sex marriages celebrate the United States Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, millions of Americans will now be eligible for dramatically different legal rights upon the death or disability of a life partner than were previously possible.

In fact, in the field of estate planning — including planning for not only what happens when someone dies but also when someone becomes incapacitated — the landscape in the LGBT community has just changed.  Gay and lesbian couples now have a level playing field, equal to opposite-sex couples.

Supreme Court Ruling On Gay Marriage Means Financial & Estate Planning Changes

The legal implications are far-ranging, from symbolic, to monetary, to life-changing.  In fact, the Supreme Court opinion in Obergefell illustrates this by sharing the stories of three sets of plaintiffs involved in that case.

Gay Marriage Ruling Lead Plaintiff, James Obergefell

The lead plaintiff, James Obergefell, was motivated by nothing more than being legally recognized as the spouse of his partner, John Read more...

| 1 Comment