Category Archives: Probate Court

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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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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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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The Prince Estate: Trouble Brewing And Still No Will After 1st Court Hearing

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.

Prince's EstateWhile 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...

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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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Celebrity Legacies: Conflicts Plagued Tupac Shakur Before And After Death

Tupac Shakur was well-known for his “Thug” image, his rap prowess, and his many Tupac Shakur's estateconflicts — 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...

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Celebrity Legacies: No Easy Ride For Dennis Hopper’s Estate

When is a divorce more than just a divorce?  When famed actor Dennis Hopper battled through an ugly divorce against his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper, the battle was more about Dennis Hopper’s estate than anything else.  So perhaps no one should be surprised that the war turned uglier once Dennis died.  Dennis Hopper Estate

This is installment #15 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.

The Easy Rider star had anything but an easy ride during the last few months of his life.  He passed away from cancer at age 73, smack-dab in the middle of his divorce war with Victoria, who was actually six years younger than Dennis Hopper’s oldest daughter.

Dennis had filed for divorce, accusing Victoria of being insane, inhuman, and volatile.  Victoria responded by claiming that Dennis was not mentally competent and that his adult children from his prior marriages Read more...

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Tom Benson Is Declared Competent, Highlighting Valuable Lessons For Families

As owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, Tom Benson, is used to being in control. He worked his way up from humble beginnings, starting as a used-car salesman, to owner of multiple car dealerships, banks, real estate, and a television station. Of course, Benson is most well-known for owning the NFL’s Saints franchise, which he purchased in 1985. Since then, he has successfully managed the Saints through the lows of Hurricane Katrina to the highs of winning the Superbowl. In 2012, Tom Benson added the NBA’s Hornets (now named the Pelicans) to his stable of businesses. Forbes estimates his net worth to be just shy of $1.9 billionTom Benson competent case

For a man with that much success and business acumen, there can be no doubt that one of the things he would enjoy least is someone suggesting he’d lost his wits. Especially when that someone is his hand-picked protégée and granddaughter, along with his daughter and grandson. And even more so when he is brought into court through a Read more...

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What’s Driving The B.B. King Estate Feud?

The late Riley B. King — better known as blues legend B.B. King — often said that the only woman in his life was his guitar, Lucille.  But that wasn’t exactly true.  King estimated that he had 15 children by 15 different women.  No wonder one of his biggest hits was called, When Love Comes To Town.

B.B. King EstateB.B. King took responsibility for his children.  According to CNN, he set up a multimillion dollar education fund for his descendants.  King wrote in his memoir that he assumed responsibility every time a woman came to him and said a child was his, without arguing about whether that was true or not.  One of his daughters, Patty King, said in a previous interview with Rolling Stone that B.B. King was a great dad who had “done well” by his children.

That same daughter is now leading the charge against B.B. King’s business manager of 39 years, LaVerne Toney.  Patty King and half-sister Karen Williams lead a panel of five King children, Read more...

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Family Members of B.B. King Are Singing The Blues

Blues great B.B. King, who is now 89 years old and suffers from diabetes and other health problems, is the subject of a bitter dispute over management of his care and assets.  The battle pits his longtime business manager, Laverne Toney, against a handful of his 11 surviving children.

King fathered and adopted a total of 15 children, from several different marriages, but four had previously died.  Three recently went to court in Las Vegas trying to combat Toney in what they allege is a case of elder abuse.  B.B. King guardianship

Karen Williams, Rita Washington, and Patty King say that Toney is not providing proper medical care to their father, is restricting his children and friends from visiting, and that there are large amounts of money missing from King’s bank account.  In fact, the family says it cannot account for more than one million dollars.  The three children are seeking the appointment of an independent guardian for their father to begin making his decisions and protect him.

Toney’s legal team called the Read more...

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