Tag Archives: will contest

Five Celebrity Conversation Starters For The Holidays

Danielle & Andy - croppedAcross the country in December, families will be coming together for the holidays.  Sometimes the holidays are one of the few times of year that family members see each other. They eat, share stories, and laugh together. Of course, there may be a few family squabbles, but hopefully no mashed-potato flinging. Or will there be? Overall, the holidays are rare opportunities for family members to have face-to-face conversations. One critical conversation is talking about estate planning — what happens legally when a loved one passes away.

Trial & Heirs Top Tips For The Holidays from Trial And Heirs on Vimeo.

What questions will these tips help you answer?
What will happen once mom and dad pass away?

Have they done their will or trust?  Is it updated?
What professionals do they work with?
Where are the documents located?

The celebrity stories in “Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!” can help you translate the estate planning talk into a fun and entertaining discussion. Really! Here Read more...

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Brooke Astor Estate Settlement: Marshall Gets His Just Desserts

News broke last week about the Brooke Astor estate settlement.  The renowned New York society queen and philanthropist, who died at age 105, left behind an estate of nearly $200 million dollars.  brooke astor estate settlement
Brooke Astor’s assets — along with the $50 million charitable trust of her late husband — have been tied up since she passed in 2007.  The fighting was so extensive that it dragged in a “who’s who” of top New York City institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library, Rockefeller University, and even the United Nations, among many others.
Under Astor’s 2002 will, her only son, Anthony Marshall, stood to inherit tens of millions of dollars, with most of it slated to pass to charity after he died.  But Marshall wanted much more.  He and a lawyer,  Francis X. Morrissey, Jr., convinced the elderly Astor — when she was suffering from dementia — to sign a series of codicils to Astor’s 2002 will.  These codicils would have allowed Marshall to leave Read more...

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Tony Curtis Estate: Tony Curtis’ Kids Say He Was the Victim of Undue Influence

Tony Curtis estateThe Tony Curtis Estate held an auction this weekend to unload hundreds of memorabilia, articles of clothing and other property belonging to the famed actor who died last September at age 85, after years of poor health.  Julien’s Auction House in Beverly Hills, California, conducted the online auction and raised more than one million dollars.  The money went to the benefit of Tony’s widow and fifth wife, Jill Vandenberg Curtis, with a portion going to the couple’s charity.

So how much did his five children, including actress Jamie Lee Curtis, stand to receive from this?  Absolutely nothing.

Tony Curtis redid his Will and Trust in May of last year, a few months before he died from cardiac arrest.  When he did so, he cut out all of his children.  His will lists all five by name — including Jamie Lee — and states that he intentionally disinherited them.  No reason was given in his will.

Tony Curtis Estate

His children were shocked by it and are not happy.  And this Read more...

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Is 94-Year-Old Zsa Zsa Gabor Going To Be A New Mother?

Zsa Zsa Gabor has always been associated with glamour in Hollywood — queen of film and television over the course of a five-decade career, married nine times, and even able to parlay a famous slap of a police officer into a career revival.  In fact, she has recently been called “the first and probably biggest Hollywood celeb to become famous for being famous.” Aptly put.

Zsa Zsa Gabor and Prince von Anhalt

But when does pursuing fame cross the line for a 94-year old? That point may have come this week, when her husband of 25 years told the media that he had started the process of donor matching and blood work so he could turn Zsa Zsa into Ma Ma.

That’s right, the esteemed Prince Frederic von Anhalt is planning to arrange for an egg donor, surrogate mother, and artificial insemination to allow Zsa Zsa to once again enjoy the wonder of motherhood.

Why in the world would he do this?  He said that he wants someone to Read more...

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The Anna Nicole Smith Case Finally Ends

No, it can’t be … has the 15-year saga started by Anna Nicole Smith, as she tried to get money from the estate of her deceased husband, really come to an end? The court battle involved the fortune owned by the late J. Howard Marshall, II, who was a 90-year-old Texas oil billionaire before he passed away in 1995.

The case started in Texas probate court, moved to bankruptcy court in California, traveled up and down the federal court system through numerous appeals, hearings, and even two trips to the United States Supreme Court.

The case survived the death of both people who were fighting — Anna Nicole Smith and her step-son (who was 27 years older than she was). But the case is alive no more. Anna Nicole’s quest for a bequest has failed.

That’s right, apparently love doesn’t conquer all. We all know that Anna Nicole must have been deeply in love with Howard Marshall (whom she met while stripping) despite their age difference of more than 60 Read more...

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Panama court throws out will that left millions to poor children

It surely must rank as one of the most devastating will contest cases any country has ever seen …  especially for the hundreds of thousands of impoverished children in Panama.   Wilson-Lucom

Wilson Lucom (pictured, right) was a wealthy tycoon from Florida whose third wife, Hilda, was from one of Panama’s wealthiest families.  Hilda had previously been married to a powerful politician in the country and has five adult children from that marriage.  Wilson and Hilda lived in Panama when he died in 2006.

Wilson Lucom’s will left more than $50 million to help the staggering number of poor children in Panama.  Hilda and her family weren’t very happy with the will and filed legal proceedings to have the will thrown out in 2006.  You can read our prior blog article about the case here.

Wilson’s will was upheld by the first two courts in Panama that heard the case.  But Hilda appealed again, to Panama’s Supreme Court.  Before the ruling came out, there were some interesting articles, including this one Read more...

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It’s baaaack … The Anna Nicole Smith Case

It has to rank as one of the craziest, lengthiest and most-watched probate litigation court cases of all time.  It officially started as Vicki Lynn Marshall (a/k/a Anna Nicole Smith) vs. E. Pierce Marshall (son and sole beneficiary of the late oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall).  Anna-Nicole-Smith-Estate-Trial-and-Heirs

Originally, the Smith team won an $88 million against her “step-son”, Pierce, but that victory was taken away by the Court of Appeals, which ended the fight.  That is, it was over until the United States Supreme Court ruled in Smith’s favor and reinstated the case.

Then Pierce died, followed by Anna Nicole Smith.  But, just because they both passed away doesn’t mean the fighting stopped!  Their two estates have continued to battle over the billions left behind by Smith’s 90-year-old husband, 15 years after he died.

Then, this past March, the Court of Appeals again threw out the case (on a different legal ground).  Once again Smith’s estate, with the infamous Howard K. Stern at the helm, asked the Supreme Court to step Read more...

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Dennis Hopper’s wife to continue fight into probate court

The recent legal battles between the ailing Dennis Hopper and his wife in divorce court have been well-documented.  Here are the Probate Lawyer Blog’s articles covering the case, including the Top Ten most hurtful allegations lobbed back and forth (a serious must-read!). Dennis Hopper

Now that Hopper has passed on due to his prostate cancer, on May 29th, at age 74, TMZ.com is reporting that his widow is already gearing up to challenge his estate in probate court.  Victoria Duffy-Hopper claimed that Hopper’s divorce filing was motivated by an effort to cut her out of his estate plan.

Reportedly, the couple’s prenuptial agreement calls for her to get 25% of his estate and $250,000 in life insurance proceeds, as long as they were both married and living together.  Because the divorce was not finalized when he died, they were still married (even though they were separated).  But, were they living together?

Duffy-Hopper (according to TMZ) is prepared to challenge the prenup in probate court and will argue they were “living together” because

Read more...
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Judge rules that Feng Shui Master forged Nina Wang’s will

The Nina Wang case captivated Asia in much the same way the Brooke Astor case made headlines in New York last year.  Only, instead of questions surrounding whether a multi-millionaire’s will was invalid, the Nina Wang case involved whether Tony Chan Chun-chuen forged the will of Asia’s richest woman, to the tune of about thirteen billion dollars, according to some estimates.  She died at age 69 in 2007.

The case raged for months, and The Probate Lawyer Blog featured several articles about it.  The Hong Kong judge carefully deliberated since closing arguments took place in late September.  Earlier today, the High Court released the 326-page ruling that declared Wang’s 2006 will to be a forgery.

Nina Wang case
Tony Chan contended that Wang had left him her fortune because, rather than being a mere feng shui adviser for her, he was also her secret lover.  Of course, he was married during the affair.  And he was 20 years younger than she was.

Lawyers for the Wang family and charities (the vast majority Read more...

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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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