Tag Archives: Celebrity estate battles

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

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Dennis Hopper estate battle moving into high gear

It’s ironic that the estate of the actor made famous through the movie Easy Rider is proving to be anything but an easy ride.  On one side sits Dennis Hopper’s fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper.  On the other sit his trustees and children, spearheaded by daughter Marin Hopper.  Marin is the oldest daughter and is five years older than her “step-mother”.  Think there’s some bad blood there?  Dennis Hopper estate

You bet there is.  Before Hopper died, he filed for divorce.  His wife claimed this move was driven by his children in an effort to cut her out of his estate plan.  According to the couple’s prenuptial agreement, if they were divorced or no longer living together, then she would not inherit 25% of his estate and life insurance worth $250,000.

At first, it was reported that Duffy-Hopper would argue that they were still living together because the judge in their divorce case permitted her to remain on the same property with him, but in separate houses.  That was clearly an uphill battle. 

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Joe Jackson refuses to stay out of the Michael Jackson estate

Even though Michael Jackson’s father was not included as a beneficiary in his will or trust, it hasn’t stopped Joe Jackson from trying to intercede in the legal proceedings surrounding the estate.  First, he asked the judge to remove estate executors John Branca and John McClain.Joe Jackson Michael Jackson

The probate judge dismissed his claims, saying he lacked “standing” in the estate because he was not a beneficiary.  In other words, he did not have enough of a financial interest in the estate to be able to legally complain about who was in charge.

Recently, Joe Jackson filed an appeal of that decision, arguing that he was financially dependent on his son while he was alive, so he did have enough of an interest to attack the executors.

This argument is a long shot, at best.  Joe Jackson requested an allowance from the estate initially, but he recently withdrew that request.  More importantly, Michael did not choose to leave any of his assets  to his father, so even if he supported his Read more...

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The crazy claims of the Michael Jackson Estate

Given MJ’s eccentricities in life, and the craziness that has surrounded Michael Jackson estate since he died, it is no surprise that Michael Jackson’s estate executors are busy denying wild claims left and right. 

TMZ has a list of the wackiest ones:

  • Jose Freddie Vallejos asked for $3.3 million to reimburse Los Angeles for the costs of the King of Pop’s memorial service.
  • A homeschooler, Claire McMillan, is seeking $2 million.
  • Michael, according to Nona Paris Lola Ankhesenamun Jackson (try saying that three times fast), was actually married to her, so Nona of course wants custody of the three kids.
  • Richard Lapointe claimed he’s owed $5 million for a memorabilia auction that was wrongly canceled.
  • And, best of all, a woman is convinced that Jackson wiretapped her telephone and had organized criminals watch her.  She wants a mere $50 million.

You can read TMZ’s coverage of these claims, which were all formally denied last week by Howard Weitzman, the estate’s attorney.  This means the claimants now have to initial

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The wars over the final wishes of Bill Davidson & Mel Simon

William Davidson and Melvin Simon had a lot in common.  Both were billionaires and both were Jewish.  Simon built his fortune through the country’s biggest shopping mall company, Simon Property Group, and Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.3 billion.  Davidson led Guardian Industries Corp., one of the world’s largest glass suppliers, and had a fortune recently tabbed at $4.5 billion.

They also each owned NBA franchises in the midwest.  Davidson owned the Detroit Pistons (yeah!), while Simon co-owned the rival Indiana Pacers (boo!) with his brother, Herbert Simon.

Both men died last year, with Davidson passing away at age 86 in March and Simon passing in October, at age 82.  And both were survived by spouses as well as children from prior marriages.

And, in both instances, the spouse and the children from the prior marriage did not see eye to eye.  Because of that, both the Davidson Estate and Simon Estate are mired in lawsuits about the true wishes of the beloved billionaires.

In Davidson’s case, there are Read more...

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6 Tips to Avoid Exploitation of Elderly by Family Member

Danielle Mayoras was recently quoted in this interesting article by the Detroit Free Press about the growing epidemic of exploitation of the elderly.  It discussed a very sad case where a daughter took hundreds of thousands of dollars from her elderly mother and now is in jail saying the money is gone and she can’t return it.

Exploitation of Elderly

This is one example of how more and more families are facing the devastation caused by exploitation of elderly loved ones, often by a family member or caregiver.

So how do families protect their golden seniors, whose lifetime of savings can often be a tempting target for desperate or unethical people?  There are no magic answers, but here are a few Trial & Heirs Tips that we provided to the Detroit Free Press which ran next to the newspaper story:

1. Get expert advice. Consider consulting an estate lawyer who will know the ins and outs of estate planning. It’s usually money well spent.

2. Beware of Joint Accounts. When you add Read more...

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Michael Jackson executors sorting through requests for money

It’s been seven months since the King of Pop died suddenly at the age of 50, and fights surrounding his estate seem like they may last for many years to come. Creditors are coming out of the woodwork, with new ones surfacing on a weekly basis. The latest, a management company, joins a series of business, medical and spiritual advisers and others who insist they are owed money, totaling more than $20 million, already. That total will certainly climb.
The estate co-executors, John Branca and John McClain, have to sort through the requests for money and try to determine the legitimate ones from the ones that are, well, more fiction than fact. It’s common when someone wealthy and eccentric passes to have all sorts of people saying they are entitled to money. (Jerry Garcia, James Brown, and Marlon Brando are a few notable examples that we cover in Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!).


One of the more interesting requests is from Michael’s father, Joe Jackson, who wants $15,000 Read more...

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The Revlon chairman’s ill-fated family fortune fight

CNN’s Fortune Magazine recently had a fascinating article about Ron Perelman’s efforts to drag his paralyzed, infirm, and elderly ex-father-in-law through one of the most vicious estate battles we’ve seen in a while.  

Perelman built most of his billion-dollar fortune through a hostile takeover of Revlon.  In the process, he married and divorced four women, one of whom was Claudia Cohen (actress Ellen Barkin was another).  Cohen came from a wealthy family herself.  Her father and brother own and control Hudson Media, a powerful magazine company that is a long-time partner of Time, Inc.

Sadly, Claudia died after a difficult fight with cancer in 2007.  Her will appointed Perelman as her executor.  She named Samantha Perelman, her teenage daughter from their marriage, as her primary beneficiary.

Claudia’s will made her wishes very clear, including her strong desire to protect the relationship between Samantha and Claudia’s father, Robert, and brother, James.

Instead of following this wish, Ron Perelman did just the opposite.  He filed several lawsuits against Robert and James, despite

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The 6 Most Controversial Celebrity Wills: Michael Jackson, Leona Helmsley, Princess Diana and More

Who got the money? Who had the biggest family feuds? The mistakes that were made — and what we can learn from them. Two legal experts in estate planning and the authors of Trial & Heirs have the scoop.

If the recent and sudden death of Michael Jackson taught us something – other than the side effects of too much prescription medication – it’s the importance of a will or trust. Wills and trusts are taboo topics. We’re usually far more inclined to talk about Botox injections or mammograms than how we plan to divide our assets. But (and sorry for speaking so morbidly) once you’re dead, it’ll be far too late to finally address it. That’s why regardless of your age and health (Jackson was 50 and about to go on tour), it’s important to have a proper will — not just for your peace of mind, but for your family’s peace of mind too.

In addition to the King of Pop’s highly publicized estate battles, here’s a glimpse Read more...

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Trial & Heirs’ Whitney Houston story featured on Huffington Post

The Huffington Post recently ran this article featuring an excerpt from Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!

the TRUE STORY of WHITNEY HOUSTON!  

Whitney Houston is no stranger to family fights in court. In 2002, the entertainment company owned by her father, John Houston, sued her. John Houston said publicly that his company was owed $100 million and he expected his daughter to repay it. He died in February of 2003, and the case was dismissed not long thereafter.  Reportedly, Whitney Houston did not attend her father’s funeral service or burial.

John’s wife, Barbara, filed her own lawsuit against Whitney in December of 2008. Whitney was the sole beneficiary of a $1 million life insurance policy of her late father.

Barbara Houston claims that Whitney had agreed with her father that the money would be used to pay off a mortgage that Whitney held over John and Barbara Houston’s home. Apparently, Whitney lent her father $723,000 in 1990 and this loan was secured by a mortgage against his house, payable

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