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.
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...
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.
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...
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.
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...
Joan Rivers was widely respected for her sense of humor, work ethic, and willingness to say almost anything for a laugh. When it came to planning her estate, Rivers treated it as no laughing matter.
Joan Rivers’ last will and testament was signed on November 16, 2011. A thorough and well-drafted legal document, her will named a living trust as her beneficiary.
Specifically, Joan Rivers, whose full legal name was Joan R. Rosenberg, signed the Rosenberg Family Trust on the same day as the will. The will directed that all of her estate assets were to be distributed to that trust.
Melissa Rivers to Inherit Over $100 million of Joan Rivers Estate
Interestingly, the final version of Joan’s trust was far from her first. In fact, the will stated that her trust was actually the 11th amendment of the original trust, and the third complete restatement. This means that the original Rosenberg Family Trust was changed, many times over, and rewritten completely three times (not counting the original version). When Read more...
Sure the holidays are a fun time for families to sit around talking about what happened on the latest episode of The Walking Dead or how granddaughter Mary is doing in dance class. But they are also a great time to have the important — yet often difficult — conversations about estate planning. What happens when Mom dies? Does anyone know where Dad kept his will? Did they ever transfer the investment accounts into their revocable living trust like they were supposed to?
Many families don’t ask these tough questions … especially when dynamics are strained, like in many second-marriage families or when siblings don’t get along well. It certainly isn’t easy to blurt out after passing the gravy, “Hey Dad, does your will put me or your wife in charge of your estate?”
But these conversations are important. When the proper estate planning isn’t done, it’s the family members left behind who pay the price, often with bitter, ugly, and costly probate court battles. They happen to families all Read more...
The famed American Top 40 Countdown DJ passed away in June, at age 82, with a host of medical problems including advanced Lewy Body dementia. Now, almost four months later, Casey Kasem’s remains still have not been laid to rest.
It’s a tragic story of a feuding family. And unfortunately, it’s one that won’t likely end any time soon.
Kasem’s wife of more than 30 years, Jean Kasem, wasn’t exactly close with his three adult children from his first marriage. In fact, Casey’s daughter Kerri Kasem recently said in an interview with Howard Stern that Jean Kasem didn’t like her or her siblings since the time that Kerri was just nine years old. According to Kerri, Jean would even invent bad deeds that she told Casey the children had done so he would be mad at them.
Casey Kasem Still Not Buried
Casey Kasem Related Posts
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Things became ugly when Casey Kasem’s health deteriorated, especially during the last year of his life. Casey’s children, other family members, Read more...
Whitney Houston’s fortune bounced from sky-high to significant debt. What did this mean for her estate? And was it money — or something else — behind Whitney’s ugly legal battle with her “step-mother”?
How exactly does Bobby Brown fit into all of this?
This is installment #4 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.
Before Whitney Houston unexpectedly drowned in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub at age 48, on February 11, 2012, rumors circulated that she was in such financial trouble that she was nearly broke. She reportedly died $20 million in debt.
How could that be possible for the singer who signed a $100 million record contract in 2001? And 2001 doesn’t even rank as her most successful year! In 1993, Whitney earned $33 million from The Bodyguard soundtrack and gave birth to her only child, Bobbi Kristina.
Whitney Houston Read more...
The initial shock of Robin Williams’ tragic death, apparently from hanging himself, is giving way to reflections of his memory and legacy. Another question many people are asking is what happens next for his family. He was survived by his third wife, Susan Schneider, to whom he was married for three years, and three adult children from his prior two marriages, whose ages range from 22 to 31. There is a realistic fear that Williams’ death left may have left them in financial distress.
In an interview with Parade Magazine in 2013, Williams lamented how he was required to change his lifestyle because of how much he lost in his two divorces (reportedly, $30 million). He said he returned to TV because of “bills to pay.” Williams also admitted to listing his Napa Valley estate for sale because he could no longer afford it.
Robin Williams’ publicist recently said that he was not in financial trouble and his comments were not to be taken seriously. Regardless of whether his publicist Read more...
He may have been a brilliant actor, but Philip Seymour Hoffman had much to learn when it came to estate planning. Reports surfaced last week that the former Oscar winner repeatedly rejected the advice of his attorney and accountant, both of whom advised him to create a trust. He said he didn’t want his three children to be “trust funds kids.”
Instead, he felt their mother — and his longtime girlfriend — would take care of them. He viewed Mimi O’Donnell much like a wife, although he did not believe in marriage.
Sadly, because of Hoffman’s aversion to proper estate planning, his 34 million dollar estate faces a huge estate tax bill and other problems that could (and should) have been avoided if he had listened to the legal and financial advice he was given. Hoffman’s girlfriend and children would have been much better off if he had done the proper estate planning, with a revocable living trust (at the very least).
Philip Seymour Hoffman Didn’t Want Trust Fund Kids Read more...
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Lou Reed was the man who famously crooned, “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.” The late lead singer and guitarist of The Velvet Underground — and of course, a musician and songwriter with a successful, decades-long solo career — may have been a bit wild at times. But that doesn’t explain why he would be so careless with his estate plan. This is a man with an estate worth more than $30 million — perhaps substantially more, in fact.
Recent filings with the Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan (that’s probate court, for us non-New Yorkers) show that Lou Reed’s estate has already earned $20,379,169 (give or take a few bucks) since he passed away from liver disease on October 27, 2013, at the age of 71. This is only the income that Lou Reed’s estate has brought in since his death, from his copyright, publishing and performance royalties and other deals put together under the skillful management of his longtime manager Read more...