Tag Archives: Famous fortune Fights

LA Times article about estate planning

The business section of Sunday’s Los Angeles Times featured an article called “Time to prepare your will”.  Discussing the importance of estate planning, the article included quotes from both of us.  Here’s a few selections from the article:

If you’re rich, the best estate planning advice would be to die quickly. If you’re not, the best advice is to either review or rewrite your estate planning documents to make sure your heirs aren’t left high and dry if you die.


FOR THE RECORD: The Personal Finance column about estate planning in Sunday’s Business section misidentified the book “Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!” by Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Mayoras as “Trial & Errors: Famous Fortune Fights.” 


That’s because estate taxes that could allow Uncle Sam to nab up to 45% of your bequeathed assets are currently — and very temporarily — kaput. 

A decade-long phase-out of the estate tax eliminated the tax completely as of January. The catch: If nothing’s done, estate taxes will boomerang back to historic

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Brittany Murphy Estate: she did update her estate plan, after all

Actress Brittany Murphy died tragically at age 32 a few months ago.  Within a day of her passing, celebrity website TMZ reported that Murphy failed to update her will after her marriage to Simon Monjack, her husband of 2 1/2 years.  Instead, her will left everything to her mother.  The Probate Lawyer Blog’s article about it reminded people that updating wills and trusts after important life changes, like a marriage, is very important . . .  even for 32-year olds.  Brittany Murphy Estate

TMZ is now reporting that, according to Monjack, the story wasn’t entirely accurate.  While she did have a prior handwritten will naming her mother as her beneficiary, Murphy did update her estate plan after her marriage, complete with a will and trust.  Monjack said he asked Murphy to include a provision stating “I am married to Simon Monjack who I have intentionally left out of this will.”

That provision was important because, without it, Monjack may still have inherited some of her assets as a “pretermitted spouse”.  By specifically mentioning

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Motion Magazine book review of Trial and Heirs

Review of “Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!” by Motion Magazine, part of LegalNews.com:

Anna Nicole Smith, Ray Charles, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger …  what do they all have in common?

They were all celebrities, they’re no longer among the living, and they all can teach us a lesson.

At least according to husband and wife legacy expert attorneys Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Mayoras, authors of “Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!” The book dishes out drama using celebrity cases to highlight the importance of proper estate planning.

The Mayorases compiled and researched these high-profile celebrity cases with Danielle, who specializes in estate planning education, taking on the title of “Queen of Heirs” while Andrew used his probate litigation experience as “King of Trials.”

Satisfying readers’ voyeuristic side with the engaging stories of celebrity heir in-fighting isn’t the book’s only draw.

Featured on The Rachael Ray Show, WGN Chicago, and Forbes.com, “Trial & Heirs” can be utilized by those seeking to spark the

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Kiplinger’s article: Cut the Lawyer out of your Will?

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine has an interesting article that’s coming out in the March 2010 issue, about do-it-yourself estate planning.  It was written by Jane Bennett Clark, Senior Associate Editor:

You’ve been dragging your feet for ages on writing a will and drawing up other estate-planning documents. Now, to avoid the hassle and expense of hiring a lawyer, you’re considering using online forms to get the job done. Companies such as Nolo, LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer allow you to do just that. Not only do they provide do-it-yourself estate-planning documents, but they also offer guidance on filling them out and general information on estate-planning issues.

The cost for such off-the-rack estate planning? As little as $50 for a simple will to $220 or so for a package that includes a will and a living trust. That’s cheap compared with the $300 a lawyer might charge for a simple will or the $1,000 or more that a comprehensive estate plan might run you. Still, you get what you pay for, says

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Heritage book review of Trial and Heirs

There was a great book review of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! that came out Friday.  Here’s a portion of it:

“If you do nothing else of consequence for your life in 2010, make a will.”

According to University of Michigan graduates Andrew and Danielle Mayoras, both attorneys, two-thirds of Americans don’t have one.

I do, and my editor has a trust, but an informal poll in the Heritage newsroom at an editorial meeting proved that of the nine people sitting there, two of us had a will.

And, truth be told, mine seriously needs updating.

Reading this book has compelled me to do something about it in a smarter way than I had done in the past.

The Detroit couple’s book, “Trial and Heirs,” will jump start you in the right direction, too. Not only is a fun read, but also an important one — one that should become the basis of family meetings everywhere.

You’ll learn why it’s important for everyone to do estate planning. According to

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Forbes: Get Them Jamming On Estate Planning

Danielle Mayoras, who co-authored Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! with me, recently wrote an article for Forbes.com to help financial advisers, attorneys, and other professionals get their clients talking about estate planning, using celebrity stories.  Most people don’t like to even discuss the legal planning for what happens after they die, much less actually do the planning.

That’s why celebrity stories can help break the ice and get the conversation started.  Here’s her Forbes.com article with specific tips on how:

As professionals, one of the challenges that we have is motivating our clients to do their estate planning. You can educate clients about the proper estate planning and how it can help them, their families and their estate tax returns. The fact of the matter remains, however, that many clients will have excuses to push their legal planning to the back burner.

Reasons that you may have heard include being too busy with kids, jobs or parents to take the time to do the planning. Others may be uncomfortable

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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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