Tag Archives: Family Law

Pauly Shore sues brother for undue influence

One of Hollywood’s most famous entertainment spots has sparked what may be a very bitter and ugly family fight in court. 

Comedian Pauly Shore filed a lawsuit claiming that his brother, Peter Shore, has been using unscrupulous behavior and committing undue influence over their 79-year old mother, Mitzi Shore.  Mitzi suffers from Parkinson’s disease and other neurological problems.  Reportedly, she’s been in the care of Peter (Pauly’s older brother), but Pauly has grown increasingly concerned for her well-being, according to his lawsuit filed earlier this month in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Pauly, Peter and their mother were, until recently, the three directors of The Comedy Store, one of Hollywood’s most famous comedy clubs.  It’s featured distinguished comedians such as Johnny Carson, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, George Carlin, and Robin Williams (and — even better — it’s reportedly haunted by a ghost that plays pranks).  Mitzi won the club in a divorce in 1973 and has owned it ever since.

But, with her recent physical decline, Pauly and Peter have

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Brooke Astor’s son gets 1 to 3 year jail sentence

Anthony Marshall and the attorney he conspired with, Francis Morrissey, each received jail sentences earlier this week for 1 to 3 years.  They had been convicted of looting Brooke Astor, Marshall’s mother, out of $60 million by convincing her to change her will when she was mentally unable to comprehend it due to Alzheimer’s disease, along with related crimes.  Astor_brooke130x171

Marshall’s attorneys had pled for leniency, citing his advanced age, poor health and doctors’ reports saying any jail time would equate to a death sentence for him.  The Probate Lawyer Blog covered the defense lawyer’s efforts in this recent article.

The judge wouldn’t hear of it.  He noted how sad it was that a life of extreme abundance led to such sadness, particularly when Marshall’s own son took the stand and “tried very, very hard to destroy” Marshall.

The judge did consider that Mrs. Astor loved her son, the judge felt, along with other mitigating factors, so he did not impose the 4 1/2 years that the prosecutors requested.  In

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Cobell vs. Salazar: The Ultimate Trust Litigation case

Anyone who’s ever been through a court battle over a trust or estate knows how important it is for everyone involved.  But some cases carry more importance than others.  The recently-resolved case of Cobell vs. Salazar has as much importance to our nation as any trust fight has ever had.Native American dancer

Elouise Cobell is the lead plaintiff in a class action suit against The United States Secretary of the Interior.  The lawsuit involves the rights of Native Americans under Individual Indian trusts that began under laws passed in 1887.  At that time, tribal lands of Native Americans were parceled out by the government and assigned to individuals, in lots between 40 and 160 acres in size.

But the individual Native Americans weren’t allowed to actually own the land.  The government did, leasing the lands for mineral and grazing rights, among other uses, and paying the proceedings into a series of informal trusts.  The United States Secretary of the Interior was charged with administering the trusts for the benefit of the individuals Read more...

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L’Oreal fortune fight leads to interesting criminal case

It's been almost a year since The Probate Lawyer Blog featured a story on the court battle over whether the heiress to the L'Oreal fortune has been a victim of fraud and exploitation.  87-year old Liliane Bettencourt has been called Europe's richest woman.  In the article I wrote last December, I explained how Bettencourt's daughter, Francois Bettencourt Meyers, sued to prove that a celebrity photographer had received gifts from the elder Bettencourt of more than one billion dollars by preying on her mental frailty.  Liliane-bettencourt

The gift recipient, Francois-Marie Banier, and Bettencourt said she was competent and made the gifts of her own free will because they were dear friends.  And yes, they said, it's a lot of money, but considering her fortune has been recently valued at $13 billion (U.S. value) by Forbes, it's not that much money.  (Anyone buy that?)

I had suggested last year that I found it odd that Meyers hadn't started a guardianship proceeding to have her mother declared legally incompetent.  Well, now she has Read more...

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Tom Carvel Estate: A tale of fortune, fraud, ice cream, and murder?

Tom Carvel was the creator of soft serve ice cream and one of the founding fathers of the franchise system in America.  When his ice cream truck suffered a flat tire in New York in 1934, he sold his melting ice cream from a parking lot.  Those humble beginnings led to the first soft-serve ice cream store and eventually grew into the Carvel ice cream chain with 850 locations.  Carvel died in 1990 at age 84, with a fortune conservatively estimated at around $80 million.  The legal fighting started soon thereafter.Tom-carvel  And it hasn’t stopped yet.

The battles have passed through federal courts in three states, along with state courts in New York, Florida, Delaware, and even England (not New England … England!).  Reportedly, legal fees and commissions have already cost the Carvel financial legacy more than $28 million.

On one side was Pamela Carvel, Tom’s niece.  She helped Tom’s widow, Agnes, through years of court battles until she passed in 1998 at age 89.  In fact, the pair lived

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Brooke Astor Trial: Will his son ever see jail time? Should he?

The Brooke Astor trial was a fascinating portrayal of greed and exploitation involving New York’s upper, upper crust society.  You can read The Probate Lawyer Blog’s coverage of the Brooke Astor case here.  Brooke Astor’s son, Anthony Marshall, and one of her attorneys, Francis X. Morrissey, Jr., were convicted of fraud, larceny, conspiracy and a host of related charges related to management of her financial affairs and changes to her will that occurred after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.Brooke Astor

Brooke Astor trial

Because of this, Anthony Marshall, who is 85 years old, faces up to 25 years in jail.  But whether he actually sees any jail time is a big question.  He will certainly appeal the verdict and his lawyers will pull out every trick in the book to try to keep the millionaire from seeing the inside of a jail cell.

In fact, they’ve already started.  A few days ago, the Associated Press reported that Marshall’s attorneys filed a request asking the judge to dismiss the charges

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Hearst Family Legal Battle Teaches Important Lessons

CNN and Fortune Magazine recently featured a fascinating article about the legal battle between John Randloph “Bunky” Hearst, Jr., and his ex-wife.  Bunky is one of the grandsons of famed media mogul William Randolph Hearst, who left behind the powerful Hearst Corp.

William Randolph Hearst died in 1951 with a trust and estate worth about $400 million in today’s dollars.  But, more importantly, his trust established a corporate framework that enabled his board of trustees to expand the Hearst holdings into a multi-billion dollar media empire, owning hundreds of magazines, newspapers, television stations, 20% of ESPN,Bunky_barbara_hearst and more.  Here is the wikipedia page about Hearst Corp. that overviews how expansive it is.

William Randolph Hearst’s estate plan is a great example of how trusts can be used to maximize financial legacies and protect your heirs.  While most people don’t have to establish complicated boards to manage extensive business holdings like Hearst, everyone can learn a lesson here.

Livings trusts are the best way to pass along assets (be they vast

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