Celebrity gossip websites ran a story last week claiming that Whitney Houston is “broke as a joke.” They even quoted an unnamed (of course) source claiming that Whitney would be homeless if not for the generosity of friends. She called someone to ask for $100, the story goes. If true, that would be quite a fall from financial grace for the singer who signed a $100 million record deal in 2001.
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Whitney’s camp quickly denied the rumors and says they are “false and ridiculous“. Her rep points out that she just made a movie called Sparkle, with Jordin Sparks, and she didn’t work for free.
If Whitney is in need of money, she has another source she can pursue. Don’t be surprised to see Whitney Houston foreclose on her step-mother’s home soon.
Why would Whitney Houston do that? She recently claimed victory in the Federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in a sometimes-ugly lawsuit against the woman who married her father. Read more...
Richard Pratt / Quinn Rooney-Getty Images
Richard Pratt had a colorful life, until he died at age 74 on April 28, 2009. A former professional Australian rules football player and stage actor, he inherited his father’s small cardboard business in 1969 and grew it into one of the world’s largest privately-owned recycling and packaging companies.
Pratt peaked on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires at number 321 in 2005. Two years later, his fortune was valued by Forbes at $2.5 billion (in U.S. dollars). His fortune declined from there, and Pratt eventually admitted to a massive price-fixing scheme, paying a record $33 million fine. Pratt still managed to wind up as Australia’s fourth wealthiest person, leaving behind a $5.5 billion estate (in Australian dollars).
Richard Pratt estate: Mistress loses court battle
It was well known in Australian society that Pratt enjoyed the company of mistresses, one of whom gave birth to a daughter by Pratt in 1997. But it’s another mistress who caused the biggest headache for Richard Pratt’s estate. Read more...
Did you know that family gatherings during the holidays are a great time to talk about celebrities, such as Whitney Houston, and how they can help your family avoid fighting when someone dies?
This is Part 2 of Trial & Heirs’ Top 5 Celebrity-Based Estate Planning Conversation Starters for Thanksgiving 2011:
(Did you miss Part 1? Click here.)
3. Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston has been locked in a vicious court battle with her step-mother over a $1 million life insurance policy from Whitney’s father, which named Whitney as the sole beneficiary. Whitney’s step-mother, Barbara, sued Whitney and claimed the money was meant for her, not Whitney. Whitney had lent her father money and held a private mortgage over his home, which Barbara received when Whitney’s father died in 2003. Barbara said the life insurance was meant to repay that money and Whitney was supposed to release the mortgage and turn the rest of the life insurance money over to Barbara.
So did Whitney agree that the money was to Read more...
The Godfather of Soul died on Christmas Day, 2006. His estate has been marred by fighting ever since. Here’s our Forbes recap of the legal troubles which have left James Brown’s estate and wishes in limbo.
The Associated Press reported this week that the court battles devastated his estate so much that his charitable trust had dwindled in value all the way down to $14,000, with $20 million of debt, until a 2009 settlement. This was quite a drop, because original estimates of the value of Brown’s estate came in at the $100 million mark.
The James Brown estate settlement — which was supposed to end all of the fighting — called for about half of Brown’s assets to pass to a charitable trust, with one-quarter going to his widow and the rest passing to all of his children. The deal also led to the court appointment of a new attorney to administer the estate, Russell Bauknight.
James Brown Estate Battle
When Bauknight became involved, he hired a professional music Read more...
Danielle and Andy Mayoras will be appearing twice a month on FOX 2 News in Detroit, Michigan to discuss the latest celebrity will, trust and estate cases and what people can learn to protect their own family fortunes.
The premiere segment of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! included discussions of the Estates of Michael Jackson and Tony Curtis, as well as the shocking turn of events involving 94-year old Zsa Zsa Gabor:
Trial and Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights: MyFoxDETROIT.com
By Danielle and Andy Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, husband-and-wife legacy expert attorneys, and hosts of the national television special, Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune! For the latest celebrity and high-profile cases, with tips to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your clients, click here to subscribe to The Trial & Heirs Update. You can “like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
Celebrities are not the only ones to make mistakes with their estate planning. It happens to people all across the country on a regular basis. The end result — just like with the rich and famous — often is an ugly and expensive family fight in court. One of the most common estate planning mistakes that people make is joint ownership.
For the most part, we’re not talking about when a husband and wife have joint bank accounts or the title to their home is held in both of their names. While not ideal for estate planning, this is quite common and can often be used without problems, except in many second-marriage situations or large estates that may suffer adverse tax consequences.
The area where we see significant problems, however, is when a parent adds a child’s name to an asset, such as a bank account, investment, or real estate. This is often done to help with bill paying, as a will-substitute to avoid probate court (often called a “poor-man’s Read more...
Each week, we take the latest celebrity estate news and use them to share lessons. It’s shocking how many rich and famous people make mistake and after mistake, which often leads to heirs fighting over inheritances. But, it’s not only the rich. Everyday across the country, people from all walks of life make the exact same mistakes time and time again. The only difference is the dollar amounts that they’re fighting over.
Sometimes, celebrities do get it right, and we love to share those as well. In fact, recently, Amy Winehouse tragically passed away at the young age of 27. Almost immediately, people worried that her fortune (which has been valued at differing amounts, from 15 to 30 million dollars), would pass to her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil.
Fielder-Civil is currently in prison for burglary and related crimes and is often blamed for introducing Winehouse to hard drugs, which likely had a hand in her early demise (although the exact cause has not yet been determined).
Last week, the Read more...
Civil rights icon Rosa Parks passed away at the age of 92 on October 25, 2005, in Detroit, Michigan. Almost six years later, her legacy is still tied up in a lengthy court battle. The case features allegations of abuse, cronyism and corruption by the probate judge as well as the two lawyers he appointed to oversee the estate and trust
It also involves who will receive all of the considerable civil rights memorabilia owned by Rosa Parks when she was alive, and even the rights to use her name and likeness.
Rosa Parks’ will and trust left the majority of her assets to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, operated by Rosa Parks’ longtime friend, Elaine Steele. Parks and Steele had formed this Institute. Steele says she was close to Parks for 45 years and that Parks looked at her as the “daughter she never had.”
But the probate judge did not approve of how Steele handled the estate and trust of Rosa Parks Read more...