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...
Pictured: (l-r) Chris Kyle, Dean Cain — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
As the movie, American Sniper, enjoys box office success, questions and controversies surround the estate of Chris Kyle. One of his biggest critics is Jesse Ventura, the always-outspoken former professional wrestler and potential presidential candidate. Ventura recently explained in an interview with Howard Stern on SiriusXM that “Chris Kyle is not a hero. A hero must have an honor, and a liar has no honor.” Ventura feels that Kyle had a talent for shooting straight, but was merely doing his job and does not deserve hero status.
Jesse Ventura Wins Lawsuit Vs Chris Kyle – The American Sniper
Jesse Ventura has not been the only one to question the hero label placed on Chris Kyle. Bill Maher, Seth Rogan, Michael Moore and others have also made comments questioning the glorification of Chris Kyle in the movie, while Howard Stern, Sarah Palin, Rupert Murdoch and others have defended his hero status. Ventura, however, has Read more...
News of Glee star Cory Monteith’s death by cocaine and alcohol overdose on July 13, 2013 stunned his fans across the world. The heartthrob actor was only 31. He had struggled with drug addiction since he was a teenager.
Cory’s mother attributed his struggles with drugs at an early age due to the lack of a relationship with his father. In an interview with Good Morning America she said that Cory tried extra hard because he had been “invalidated” by his father.
Cory’s father, Joe Monteith, denied this and blamed Cory’s mother instead. He said his job in the Canadian military forced him to be away from home for months at a time, but he tried to maintain a relationship with Cory. In fact, he says his ex-wife prevented communication and returned Christmas gifts he sent to his son.
Cory Monteith’s Mom Speaks Out About Her Loss
It’s hard to determine whose side of the story is correct, but there is no dispute that Cory and his father didn’t have Read more...
It has been more than twenty years since Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, died from a shotgun blast to his head, at age 27. His talent, passion, and creativity launched a new movement for not only rock music, but American culture itself.
Cobain was a game-changer who burned too bright — brighter than he could handle. Kurt Cobain suicide note summarized it well: “I don’t have the passion anymore, and so remember, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
Cobain’s death may have epitomized the burning out of a flame that grew too hot, but it sparked something else — court fights and ugly battles over his legacy that continued for almost 20 years.
This is installment #7 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.
Kurt Cobain Estate – Celebrity Legacies
His widow, Courtney Love, has been Read more...
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?
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...
Chicago businessman Urooj Khan jumped for joy when he learned he had the winning numbers for a million-dollar lottery drawing last summer. Too bad he never had a chance to enjoy it. He was murdered days before he was going to receive the $425,000 lump-sum, after-tax winnings.
Urooj Khan / Illinois Lottery
Originally, the 46-year-old’s death was ruled natural, due to hardening of the arteries. Later a family member — unidentified so far — raised suspicions with the police that led to testing blood and tissue samples. The results came back positive for cyanide. Police reclassified the death as a homicide.
Khan’s body was recently exhumed, several months after he was originally buried, so more testing could be done to help police learn more about his cause of death. So far, they haven’t named a suspect. However, Khan’s brother isn’t waiting for the police to do so. He’s already spoken out.
Urooj Khan lottery local news video
Urooj Khan’s brother, Imtiaz Khan, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he has suspicions Read more...
Less than four weeks since its release, the movie Lincoln already has earned nearly $84 million at the box office. Chronicling Abraham Lincoln’s historic efforts to abolish slavery, the movie has garnered widespread critical and audience appeal.
At Trial & Heirs, however, we can’t help but think of another aspect of Abraham Lincoln’s life … he is one of the most notable examples of someone dying without a will. This got us thinking, and digging. What did happen to the Abraham Lincoln estate after he died?
According to a series of bulletins issued from the Abraham Lincoln Association, his family was understandably overcome with grief. By noon on the day he died, April 15, 1865, Lincoln’s oldest son, Robert, sent a telegram to Justice David Davis of the United States Supreme Court. Davis was a close friend of Lincoln and Robert considered Davis to be a “second father,” according to a letter Robert wrote years later. The telegram said, “Please come at once to Washington to take charge of Read more...
Shortly after Amy Winehouse passed away from accidental alcohol poisoning at the age of 27 last July, reports surfaced that she not only had a will, but she had the foresight to update her will after her divorce from ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil. These early reports have recently been proven wrong.
Amy Winehouse in 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Probate records were recently filed showing that Winehouse died intestate, meaning without a valid will. The estate value is listed as £4,257,580 (worth about $6.7 million U.S.) in total assets, but taxes and other debts reduce the value to £2,944,554, or $4.66 million, U.S. Many believed her estate would be worth much more, perhaps as high as $15 to $20 million.
But, let’s not jump to conclusions so quickly. The assets passing through probate court are those left in her individual name when she died. So anything held jointly with someone else, or that had a beneficiary designation (like a life insurance policy), would pass outside of probate, directly to the other person. Read more...