Tag Archives: competency disputes

Dementia of Jazz Singer Etta James Sparks Family Fight

Famed R&B/Blues/Jazz singer Etta James, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member whose biggest hit was At Last, now suffers from advanced dementia (likely Alzheimer’s disease) and leukemia.  According to her doctor, she can’t sign her own name and needs help even with basic life functions like eating, dressing and hygiene.  Etta is only 72 years old.  Etta-james

To make matters worse, her mental incapacity has sparked a family squabble that has led to a lawsuit.  Her husband of 41 years, Artis Mills, filed a court proceeding to take control of about one million dollars of bank accounts in Etta’s sole name.  Mills says he needs to money to pay for her care and keep her at home, rather than in a nursing home.  In most states, this would be done through a conservatorship proceeding (called “guardianship of the estate” in some states).

Since California is a community-property state, and because Mills is the spouse, his lawyer instead opted to file a separate lawsuit which asks for Etta’s money

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Walt Disney heirs embroiled in ugly family feud

Walt Disney World is a great vacation spot and a wonderful way to spend the holidays.  We just returned from there with our three children.  So it’s ironic that we recently learned about a messy court fight involving two of Disney’s grandchildren and their share of the massive Disney fortune.  Disney

Disney passed in 1966 at the age of 65.  He left behind two daughters and 10 grandchildren.  One of his two daughters, Sharon Mae Disney, had married and then divorced a real estate developer named Bill Lund.  Lund was the man who located and helped select Orlando, Florida as the site for Disney World.  Sharon and Bill had twins, born in 1970, named Michelle and Brad.

Sharon created trusts to pass on her share of the Disney fortune to her three children (her other child was from a prior marriage).  Under the trusts, the twins were entitled to substantial distributions.

How substantial?  In additional to yearly distributions of around one million dollars, they can each receive larger amounts, every 5 Read more...

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Ugo di Portanova Guardianship: Texas multimillionaire subject to massive guardian battles

Ugo di Portanova.  Quite a name . . . and quite a story.  The Houston Chronicle had an interesting feature today about this heir to a massive oil fortune.  Di Portanova has assets valued at more than $65 million (which he largely inherited).  So you’d assume he’d wield great power with all that money, right?  Sadly, it’s just the opposite. Di Portanova

Di Portanova has been declared legally incapacitated (at least in part) continuously since 1967.  After a long fight, he won the right to manage $1,000 per month, marry who he wants, and make a will.  But he lost his quest to end the guardianship, so he has almost no say in management of his own money or other important decisions in his life.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia, di Portanova, now age 74, has lost more than the right to make most of his financial and other decisions.  He has also lost many millions of dollars to exorbitant legal fees, guardian and trustee salaries, court costs, and related expenses.  The Chronicle reviewed

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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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