How Can Johnny Depp & Lisa Marie Presley Both Be Broke? New Court Fights Explore Who Is To Blame

Johnny DeppIt’s a growing Hollywood trend … tens of millions of dollars gone?  Sue the guy who handled your finances!  But, legally, who should shoulder the blame — and more critically, pay the price — when a celebrity once worth hundreds of millions sees most of it disappear?  And what lessons are there for those of us whose net worth hasn’t quite hit eight or nine figures?

Johnny Depp is the poster child for this dilemma after his reported net-worth of $200 million dwindled to a small fraction of what it once was.  But Depp is far from alone.  This summer, Alyssa Milano filed a $10 million lawsuit against her former business manager claiming financial ruin.  And Lisa Marie Presley recently announced, through her attorney, that she is in the same boat, preparing to sue her former business manager for $100 million in losses.

Johnny Depp Claims He Was Scammed Out Of Millions of Dollars

The Depp lawsuit appears to be the most heated at the moment.  Recently, Depp’s former financial Read more...

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Hugh Hefner Was A Role Model … When It Came to Estate Planning

When most people think of Hugh Hefner, they picture the famous Playboy bunny logo, young and buxom blonde women by his side, and his ever-present robe and captain’s hat.  But people should also think of his smart business and planning sense.  After all, Hefner started a unique business with $8,000 in 1953 and grew it into a massive global enterprise.

How Hefner used the resulting wealth to plan for his golden years and beyond was as unique and innovative as the way he lived his life.  It certainly isn’t a road-map for everyone, but it worked out well for him.

It started at least as far back as 2010, when Hefner and his second wife, Kimberley Conrad, finalized their divorce after a 12- year separation.  At this time, records from his divorce pegged his net worth at about $43 million plus the value of his Playboy Enterprises stock and real estate.  Those records also revealed his yearly income to be nearly $3.5 million, with his expenses topping out at just Read more...

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Hawaiian Princess Kawananakoa In Court Battle Over $200 Million Trust Fund

Princess Abigail Kawananakoa

Princess Abigail Kawananakoa

Princess Abigail Kawananakoa, known to her friends as Kekau, is true Hawaiian royalty. Now, a bitter court battle rages over the questions of whether she is mentally capable of managing her vast fortune and whether she is the victim of physical abuse and financial exploitation.

Princess Kawananakoa, age 92, is a direct descendant to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii.  When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, it ended the reign of Queen Lili’uokalani, Kawananakoa’s great-grand aunt. As the closest living relative, Kawananakoa is considered to be the heir apparent who would have assumed the throne if the monarchy had been restored.

Abigail Kawananakoa was also the beneficiary of a large fortune, thanks to her great-grandfather, James Campbell. Campbell, a 19th-century sugar cane industrialist who made his fortune in Hawaii, died in 1900 with an estate worth $3 million at the time. The Campbell Estate has grown since then, topping out over $2 billion in 2007 when the Estate was converted into corporate holdings. Kawananakoa  Read more...

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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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Sofia Vergara And Nick Loeb Pushing The Envelope In Embryo Lawsuit

Sofia Vergara And Nick Loeb embryo lawsuitThe moment the lawsuit started, it was ugly. Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb have moved well past ugly into unchartered territory in their courtroom battle that addresses views about life itself.

As we wrote after the case began, Vergara and Loeb’s disagreement teaches an important lessons for anyone considering IVF or other mean of assisted reproductive technology. But there’s a greater lesson now. When the courtroom is the backdrop for a relationship of love turned to hate, things can rapidly spiral out of control.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard provided a good example recently. But even they — despite dramatic accusations of spousal abuse, infidelity, blackmail, and more — found a way to put their differences aside, reach a settlement, and end the fighting. Vergara and Loeb don’t appear to be heading down the same path.

Neither is willing to blink about what should happen to the two frozen embryos that they had created while together as a couple. At the time, Vergara and Loeb tried to use In Vitro Read more...

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Let’s Go Crazy: Prince Estate Enters New Fight Over Who Will Inherit His Millions

So much trouble caused by such a simple concept.  When you create a will, you decide who receives your assets after you die.  If you don’t, the laws of the state you live in determine it.  What happens when those laws aren’t too clear?  Chaos.  And the Prince estate is experiencing it in full force.  Prince estate

Maybe it’s fitting for the estate of the man who sang, “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Prince’s estate — reported to be worth as much as $300 million dollars before taxes — is tied up in the early stages of a long battle over who really are his heirs.  Still?  Didn’t the judge already resolve that months ago?

Originally, it appeared so.  Dozens of people came forward claiming to be Prince’s son, daughter, or other relative.  The DNA did not support them, and the judge denied their claims.  He determined that Prince’s full sister and five half-siblings all qualified as heirs.  He ordered the other two, a reported niece and grand-niece, to undergo DNA testing as well. Read more...

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Gene Wilder’s Struggle With Alzheimer’s Disease Teaches Planning Lesson

The death of Gene Wilder saddened Willa Wonka fans across the globe — not to mention fans of  Blazin’ Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and many others.  When his family issued a statement saying that Alzheimer’s disease claimed his life, it served as a valuable lesson.  Alzheimer’s disease is a killer.  As Wilder’s family aptly described it, it’s an “illness-pirate.”

Gene Wilder's Struggle With Alzheimer'sGene Wilder is far from the first famous actor to fall victim to Alzheimer’s.  Jimmy Stewart, Peter Falk, Charlton Heston, and Rita Hayworth are just a few others.  And of course the disease has attacked celebrities from many different industries, including Hollywood producers like Aaron Spelling, politicians like Ronald Reagan, singers like Etta James and Glen Campbell, and sports celebrities like basketball coach Pat Summitt and ball manager Sparky Anderson.

Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  It always leads to death.  While the official cause-of-death for most celebrities who suffered from the disease is usually listed as another affliction, such as a pneumonia or sepsis, Alzheimer’s disease 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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