Tag Archives: Estate Planning

Answering Questions About Whitney Houston’s Millions And Bobbi Kristina’s Death

After a six-month coma, the life of Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, has tragically ended.  Just how tragic her short life really was may not be known for some time.  But the details that have emerged are nothing short of heart-wrenching, if the allegations of a recently-filed lawsuit filed on behalf of Bobbi Kristina prove to be true.

Bobbi Kristina Brown and Nick Gordon at premiere of "Sparkle"

Bobbi Kristina Brown and Nick Gordon at premiere of “Sparkle”

According to that lawsuit, Whitney Houston’s millions were at the heart of this tragedy.  But what role did they really play in Bobbi Kristina’s death?

It was on January 31, 2015 that Bobbi Kristina was found unresponsive, unconscious, and face down in a bath tub.  That was nearly three years from the day her mother famously drowned, also in a bathtub.  Bobbi Kristina was placed into a medically-induced coma and reportedly suffered severe brain damage.

While various relatives made contradictory public statements over her condition, they cooperated enough to permit her father, Bobby Brown, and her aunt, Pat Houston, to serve Read more...

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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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Celebrity Legacies: Aaron Spelling Left Behind Massive Fortune & A Broken Family

What would it be like to grow up in a 123-room mansion in a swanky Los Angeles suburb, rubbing elbows with celebrities, and buying anything you want?  Sounds pretty great — unless it was all taken away from you as an adult.  As Tori Spelling wrote in her autobiography, it’s not easy going from having a silver spoon in your mouth to a plastic one.  Tori Spelling, Aaron Spelling & Candy Spelling

This is installment #14 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.

Aaron Spelling was one of the most successful television producers ever, masterminding such hits such as Charlie’s AnglesBeverly Hills 90210Dynasty, and The Love Boat.  When Spelling died after a severe stroke in 2006, at 83 years old, he left behind a fortune worth an estimated $500 million at the time.  He owned the largest house in all of Los Angeles Read more...

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Sofia Vergara Lawsuit Teaches Lesson For Couples Using IVF

It began with an anonymous court filing pitting “John Doe” against “Jane Doe.”  It didn’t take long for Jane and John to be identified publicly as Modern Family‘s Sofia Vergara and creator of the Onion Crunch, Nick Loeb.  Formerly engaged to be married, the ex-couple now is heading to court battling against each other over what could be a drawn-out debate involving the fundamental question:  When does life begin?  Sofia Vergara Lawsuit

Loeb’s attorney vows that he is committed to the battle, which may become “the first test case for Pro-Parenthood.”  Vergara seeks to defend her honor and wants nothing more to do with her ex.  Her lawyer said Loeb’s claims are “uncredible and hold no merit.”

What’s at stake?  Control over two female frozen embryos, held in a Beverly Hills fertility center.  When Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb were engaged, they decided to use in vitro fertilization and a gestational surrogate to have a baby.  Their first efforts failed when two prior embryos did not successfully implant in the 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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Celebrity Legacies: Elizabeth Taylor’s Estate Sets Gold Standard

Elizabeth Taylor is known for many things: her successful acting career, recognition as perhaps the ultimate icon of Hollywood glitz and glamour, standing up as a champion for AIDS research, her popular perfume, and, of course, her string of failed marriages.  Elizabeth Taylor's Estate

Failed nuptials aside, almost everything Liz Taylor touched turned to gold.  But what about her estate? Did she prepare her estate with the same high standards as the rest of her life?

This is installment #11 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.

Despite early reports that Taylor’s family may fight over her estate, her estate has been just the opposite:  peaceful.  No probate filing, no copies of her will or trust published on the web, and no court battles.

In fact, almost four years after her death at the age of 79, very little is publicly known about Elizabeth Read more...

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Celebrity Legacies: The Battle Over Marilyn Monroe’s Iconic Legacy

Marilyn Monroe left a legacy that seems to grow brighter each year.  Monroe’s image and likeness were so valuable that a multi-million dollar lawsuit over her publicity rights raged on, more than fifty years after she died, until it was finally resolved by a federal court of appeals.  Marilyn Monroe's legacy

The second wife of Marilyn Monroe’s acting coach was in the center of it.  Why did she — whom Monroe barely even knew — have control of the image and legacy of one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars ever?

This is installment #10 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.

Marilyn Monroe, whose real name was Norma Jean Baker, had a difficult childhood.  Her mother struggled with mental illness, and Monroe didn’t know for sure who her father was, much less have a relationship with him.  She was raised in a series of 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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