Tag Archives: wills and trusts

Trouble Brewing Over George Michael Estate Between Family And Former Lover

When British pop star George Michael, 53, whose full name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, died on Christmas Day, 2016, he was discovered by his lover, Fadi Fawaz.  Tensions around George Michael’s estate have been building between Fawaz and Michael’s surviving family members, which include his two sisters and his father, ever since that day. 

According to reports from England, Michael’s family members want nothing to do with Fawaz, to the point that he is not even welcome at the funeral.  After months of delays before Michael’s body was released, during which it was determined he died of natural causes related to a heart condition, Michael’s sisters are planning a small, private ceremony at a 30-seat chapel.

George Michael Died Of Natural Causes

Fawaz has complained that the family left him out of funeral plans and felt that he was being blamed for George Michael’s death, until the final determination of how he died was made public. George Michael’s cousin said it was Fawaz who snubbed the family, not the other Read more...

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Tom Clancy Family Estate Dispute Resolved After Years Of Fighting

While the final Tom Clancy estate battle may not have been as exciting as the climactic scenes in The Hunt for Red October or Patriot Games, the struggle between author Tom Clancy’s widow and four adult children over his $86 million estate is now over.  The seven justices on the Maryland Court of Appeals (the highest court in Maryland) were asked to rule about what a key clause in the codicil to Clancy’s will actually meant.  While it was close — four votes to three — the ruling marked a decisive victory for Clancy’s widow.Tom Clancy Estate Dispute

Considering that Tom Clancy is one of the best-selling authors of all time, it is ironic that the fight boiled down to how to interpret a clause in his estate planning documents that was written in an unclear manner.

The dispute centered around a provision in Clancy’s second codicil (which means amendment) to his will.  The will, originally signed in 2007, divided Clancy’s assets into three trusts:  one-third for his wife, another third for Read more...

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Battle Coming For Muhammad Ali Estate, But It May End In A Knock-Out

Muhammad Ali was never one to shy away from battles.  From heavyweight champions in the boxing ring, to the United States Government, and to the ravaging effects of Parkinson’s disease, Ali continued to fight.  Now there are growing fears that the fight will follow him into the grave, with mounting reports of trouble on the horizon for his estate and his legacy.  Muhammad Ali Estate

The circumstances are ripe for an estate battle.  Muhammad Ali fathered nine recognized children (including his adopted son from his most recent marriage) over the course of four different marriages.  Estate disputes between the surviving spouse and children from prior marriages are the most common source of trouble in probate courts across our country.  Add in the reality of Ali’s long-standing struggles with Parkinson’s disease — which can have not only physical effects, but mental as well — and there is a strong possibility that unhappy heirs may file challenges in court.

Muhammad Ali’s Estate Could Be Worth More After His Passing

And, of course, there is the Read more...

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Prince, Tupac, And Snoop Dogg: 5 Top Musical Estate Planning Mistakes

Prince died without a will. So did Tupac Shakur, Bob Marley, and many other legendary musicians.  Snoop Dogg doesn’t even want a will.  Prince

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...

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The David Bowie Estate Shows His Genius Extended Beyond Music

Only a very few pop artists enjoyed careers as diverse, colorful, and successful as David Bowie.  He remained fascinating and on the cutting-edge, up until the very end, in ways that extended far beyond making music.  David Bowie Estate

Bowie, whose real name was David Robert Jones (and who didn’t want to be confused with Davy Jones), passed away from liver cancer a mere two days after the release of his latest album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday.  Knowing that his cancer was terminable, many people believe Bowie intended his last album — featuring lyrics about mortality — to be a farewell.  In fact, the tract, Lazurus, begins with the line, “Look up here, I’m in heaven,” and ends with, “Oh, I’ll be free … Just like that bluebird … Oh, I’ll be free … Ain’t that just like me?”

It’s fair to say there was no one else like David Bowie.  He was truly one-of-a-kind, from his iconic music, various personas, and his ever-adapting image, to his finances.

David

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How The Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling Impacts Estate Planning

gay marriage ruling impacts estate planningAs gay, lesbian, and other proponents of same-sex marriages celebrate the United States Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, millions of Americans will now be eligible for dramatically different legal rights upon the death or disability of a life partner than were previously possible.

In fact, in the field of estate planning — including planning for not only what happens when someone dies but also when someone becomes incapacitated — the landscape in the LGBT community has just changed.  Gay and lesbian couples now have a level playing field, equal to opposite-sex couples.

Supreme Court Ruling On Gay Marriage Means Financial & Estate Planning Changes

The legal implications are far-ranging, from symbolic, to monetary, to life-changing.  In fact, the Supreme Court opinion in Obergefell illustrates this by sharing the stories of three sets of plaintiffs involved in that case.

Gay Marriage Ruling Lead Plaintiff, James Obergefell

The lead plaintiff, James Obergefell, was motivated by nothing more than being legally recognized as the spouse of his partner, John Read more...

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“Was He A Hero?” And Other Questions Surround Chris Kyle’s Estate – The American Sniper

Chris Kyle - American Sniper

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...

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Could Feud Over Saints Owner Tom Benson Happen In Your Family?

Yes, Tom Benson has a great deal more money and power than most of us.  How much?  Try $1.9 billion, according to the annual Forbes rankings.  Indeed, there are only 350 richer people in the whole country.  The successful owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, Benson built a wide-ranging empire of car dealerships, banks, various real estate holdings, and a television station.  He still actively participates in running his businesses — most of all his beloved Saints.  Tom Benson Saints

But for all of his wealth, prestige, and status, Tom Benson is in the midst of the same type of probate-related court battle that entangles many elderly individuals in our country.  Some of Benson’s heirs do not believe the 87-year-old is mentally competent to make his own decisions any more.  They are seeking to have him declared legally incompetent and protect him from what they claim is undue influence.

This court battle is rapidly turning ugly and is splitting the family in half. The offense is led Read more...

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Battles Brews Over Ernie Banks Estate, Caregiver Listed As Sole Heir

Widely beloved throughout the world of baseball, especially in Chicago, Ernie Banks — a/k/a Mr. Cub — rose from humble beginnings.  He began his career earning seven dollars a day in the Negro Leagues, before crossing the color barrier and becoming the Chicago Cubs’ most popular player ever.  Ernie Banks Estate

After his playing career, Banks has been widely respected as a positive role model in baseball and beyond.  He continued to break new ground, becoming the first African-American Ford Motor Company dealer ever and being actively involved in charity work throughout his life after baseball.  In 2013, President Obama awarded Banks the National Congressional Medal of Honor.

Family Fight Over Ernie Banks Estate

Ernie Banks died on January 23rd at age 83 from a heart condition.  Interestingly, his death certificate listed dementia as a “significant condition contributing” to his death.  Why is this important?

Only three months before he died, Ernie Banks signed a new set of estate planning documents, including a new will, trust, power of attorney, and healthcare directive.   Read more...

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Robin Williams’ Wife Dishonors His Trust Through Court Battle

When Robin Williams tragically committed suicide six months ago, he left behind three children from his first two marriages (ages 23 to 31) and a widow of less than three years, Susan Schneider Williams. Unlike many celebrities, Robin Williams took the time to create thoughtful and detailed estate plan, including various trusts to benefit both Susan and his three children. The trust established for his wife, called the Susan Trust, referred to and was consistent with a prenuptial agreement the couple signed in 2011 when they were married.  Robin Williams estate planning

Because Robin Williams’ estate plan was carefully crafted, it initially appeared that his heirs would avoid the bitter family squabbles that affect many mixed-marriage families (in Hollywood and around the country). After all, it is his wishes that matter, and because those wishes were seemingly captured through the proper estate planning documents, there should be nothing left to fight about, right?

Not so fast. Within the past 24 hours, the news broke that the Williams family will not be so lucky. Susan, Read more...

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