Tag Archives: tips to avoid fraud

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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Bobby Fischer Estate facing a possible Checkmate

The New York Times recently featured a story about the person universally recognized as one of the greatest chess players of all time.  Robert James “Bobby” Fischer died from kidney disease on January 17, 2008 at the age of 64.  He was buried in Iceland, where he lived for the last few years of his life.Bobby-fischer

Bobby Fischer was a King in the game of chess and his life was anything but conventional.  So why should Fischer’s estate be simple?

Fischer scorned his 1972 world chess championship, renouncing it in 1975.  He retreated from the world and turned his back on fame and fortune.

When he finally emerged for a rematch in 1992, he became a national fugitive.  Why?  Fischer ignored government warnings not to play the match in Yugoslavia, because of a trade embargo.  This made him a criminal.  He found refuge in Iceland, which granted him citizenship and prevented deportation.

Being a criminal was not his only character flaw.  The former chess prodigy was deeply anti-Semitic, according to Read more...

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Brain Walker Estate Fight: Widow of England millionaire in an interesting estate fight

Battles over the assets of those who have passed are far too common, for millionaires and non-millionaires alike.  Usually they involve whether someone was competent when a will or trust change was made, whether a joint bank account owner was supposed to share with the rest of the family, who gets the wedding ring, or other disputes over money and property.

But some fights aren’t about money.

59-year old Andrea Walker was crushed when her 64-year old husband died of pancreatic cancer last August.  The couple (who owned a 1000-year-old castle turned into a luxury hotel) had a rocky relationship at times.  In fact, the husband, Brian Walker, reportedly told Andrea he was leaving her in November, 2008, only to return when his cancer was diagnosed a few months later.  They were very close in the months leading up to his demise, with Andrea devoting herself to Brian’s care.

At least Andrea thought they were very close.

Shortly after he passed, she found a red file Brian had kept. What

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Detroit Free Press article on celebrity estate fights

This past Sunday’s Detroit Free Press featured an article, written by business columnist Susan Tompor, about “Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!” and how families can learn from celebrity estate fights.  Here’s part of it:

What can you learn about estate planning from TMZ.com, the celebrity gossip site?  TrialAndHeirs_Book_angle

Plenty. Errors involving celebrity estates can motivate everyday families to talk ahead of time about who gets Mom’s blown-glass collection — long before things get overblown.

Or at least that’s the theory being promoted by Troy attorneys Danielle B. and Andrew W. Mayoras.

“The reality is we’re a celebrity-based culture, for better or worse,” said Danielle, an estate planning attorney.

The couple, both partners at Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras in Troy, popped up last year on TV’s “Rachael Ray Show” — you can see the interview on YouTube.com — to talk about their book, “Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!”

Andrew also has a blog, www.probatelawyerblog.com, that tracks the twists and turns in celebrity estate battles, such as the struggle

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Did insurance fraud led to murder of an elderly woman?

The Stephen Hilbert family is well known in Indiana.  Hilbert founded insurance giant Conseco, which he ran until he was forced out because he owed the company hundreds of millions of dollars.  When the company sued Hilbert to collect the giant debt, he tried to hide behind a series of trusts to shelter his fortune.  Our book, Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!, includes the Hilbert story to highlight what trusts are not intended to be used for.

But now Stephen Hilbert and his family are in the news for a different reason.  Hilbert’s mother-in-law, Germaine “Suzy” Tomlinson, died under very questionable circumstances on September 28, 2008 at age 74.

Her death was ruled an accident.  Hilbert and his wife aren’t so sure.  Tomlinson was found fully dressed, face down in her bathtub, where she had drowned after a late night of drinking at a night club.   [See picture which reportedly was taken the night before she died] Tomlinson

There was broken glass, a shelf knocked over and a

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NY Times has interesting feature about Mark Twain’s will

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Samuel L. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.  The New York Times commemorated his passing with an interesting article about his final wishes.  The reporter dug up a copy of his handwritten will from the dusty archives of the probate court in Redding, Connecticut, which Twain called home until he died.  

The Times also published copies of other probate records from his estate, including a detailed inventory that listed the property he owned at death.  The executors reported his assets to be worth $541,136.07 (give or take a few cents) as of the date of his passing.  Not a bad sum for a man who found himself broke late in life and rebuilt his fortune in the ten years before he passed.

His largest asset was “50 shares of the capital stock of the Mark Twain Company” valued at $200,000.  He owned a great deal of other stock, a 230-acre homestead, some automobiles, three horses and a cow.  The court documents

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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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