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...
So how long exactly does it take to resolve the dispute over the estate of an 89-year old Texas oil tycoon who married a 26-year old stripper and Playboy Playmate? Shouldn’t the case end when both the stripper (Anna Nicole Smith) and her “step-son” (Pierce Marshall, who was 27 years older than she was) die?
And is this really important enough to be heard by the United States Supreme Court, not once, but twice?
This is installment #3 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.
While we monitor, write about, and provide commentary for media outlets around the country about many complicated celebrity estates, this one takes the prize. We call it “The Grand-Daddy Of All Estate Battles.” We’ve written several articles about this case so far, which you can read here.
Celebrity Legacies on Reelz
How The Anna Nicole Read more...
Who opened the door to battles over the Jim Morrison Estate? Who won … and what did they win when the dust settled? And does drinking your loved one’s blood constitute a valid marriage ceremony?
This is installment #2 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.
Doors front-man Jim Morrison died young at just 27 years of age, in 1971, from a heroin overdose. While his estate had limited cash when Morrison died, the assets in his estate became worth around $80 million.
Jim Morrison’s Estate
Despite his young age, hard-partying lifestyle, and free spirit, Jim Morrison took some steps to protect his estate … sort of. Two years before he died, Morrison created a will. It was a simplistic and poorly-drafted will, but a valid will nonetheless.
At least, it appeared to be valid initially. It left everything to his Read more...
We all know about the estates of Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith, right? But what about Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, and John F. Kennedy, Jr.? This week, the Reelz Channel premiered a new television series called Celebrity Legacies. The documentary series explores a different celebrity each week, discussing their legacies, estates, and what they left behind: Feuding heirs? Mounting debt? Or a golden legacy glittered with fame and fortune?
The premiere episode delved into James Gandolfini. The late Soprano’s star died shockingly in 2013, leaving behind two young children — from two different marriages — and an estate plan that was, well, not exactly perfect.
We appear on each of the 26 episodes of Celebrity Legacies, providing legal and financial commentary and analysis. On the premiere, we talked about how James Gandolfini’s will was initially done as a Band-Aid measure, after his daughter was born. Instead of using a revocable living trust to keep his affairs private and outside of probate Read more...
To most parents, the question of whether the government should intervene to dictate how a child should be raised is an easy one. Parents, not the court system, should decide what is best for their children — in the absence, of course, of abuse or neglect. But does that change when a child’s life is on the line?
That is the difficult question facing a court of appeals in Ohio regarding Sarah Hershberger. What are the constitutional rights of parents to make life-or-death medical decisions for their child? What if the decision the parents make flies in the face of conventional medicine and, according to traditional doctors, means the child will die in less than a year?
Sarah Hershberger Guardianship Case
Sarah Hershberger is the eleven-year-old daughter of Andy and Anna Hershberger, who are Amish. The family lives in an Amish community near a small town outside of Cleveland. At least, they did until recently. Because the Ohio court system appointed a guardian over Sarah — for the sole purpose Read more...
It’s the beginning of the year, which means that we all have well-intended New Year’s resolutions. The diet, the exercise regimen, saving money…and finally doing our estate and financial planning. The celebrity stories in Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! can help motivate you to actually do your planning this year. Really!
Here are some of our easy-to-use estate planning tips for the new year:
1. Get your financial affairs organized this year. Create an “asset” list, including the account numbers, names of financial institutions, and related information for your insurance, stocks, bonds, CDs, securities, bank accounts and other investments.
2. Store your asset list and your estate planning documents in a fireproof box, safe, or safety deposit box. Remember to make sure that your loved ones can find and access these documents! We have an Estate Planning Organizer to help you with this. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to learn more.
3. Review and update your estate planning documents and your financial plan with your Read more...
Access Hollywood featured a segment about the Britney Spears Conservatorship. The show examined how the successful entertainer can headline a new multi-million dollar Las Vegas show and mentor young singers as an X Factor Judge, yet not be deemed competent enough to manage her basic life decisions like food, clothing and shelter.
Danielle and Andy Mayoras of Trial & Heirs served as experts for the segment. After watching the segment, what do you think? Does Britney Spears still need the protection of a conservator — almost six years after the legal proceeding started — or is this all about the money? Watch Access Hollywood’s segment on the Britney Spears Conservatorship:
Access Hollywood. Dec. 19. 2013 – Short clip from Trial And Heirs on Vimeo.
By Danielle and Andrew Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! 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 Read more...
Do you know a family who is arguing over an estate after a loved one has passed away? Whether it’s someone facing a possible probate court battle, wondering about contesting a will, or confused over how a family trust is being handled, finding an early solution before fighting erupts is critical.
Through the years, Danielle and Andy Mayoras have worked with too many families embroiled in estate and probate conflicts to count. As a result, they’ve started a new project based on their commitment to help families find resolutions outside of probate court and without spending money on attorneys.
Danielle and Andy are authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, which uses true stories of celebrity estate errors to teach people how to protect their heirs. As Forbes contributors, Danielle and Andy regularly analyze celebrity stories to provide lessons for families across the country.
The husband-and-wife duo now wants to combine their legal expertise to help select families even more. Danielle is an estate planning and elder law Read more...
Bill Davidson, the late owner of the Detroit Pistons, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Guardian Industries — one of the country’s largest private companies — had a reputation for being aggressive. The Pistons aggressively built two championship teams under his watch and was inducted into the NBA’s Hall of Fame in 2008. His businesses thrived through his management. But the IRS now says Bill Davidson was too aggressive in his tax-reducing estate planning techniques.
The IRS recently filed a petition in US Tax Court in Washington, D.C., claiming that Bill Davidson Estate owes up to two billion dollars in taxes. Yes, that’s two Billion — with a capital “B”. How could any individual rack up such a large tax bill?
Davidson, like many wealthy people who worry about estate taxes, gave away assets through gifts, trusts, and other transfers to his wife and other family members. The IRS says that he undervalued the worth of these assets. They feel his reported net worth of around $3 billion was really much Read more...
Amanda Bynes came into the public eye as one of Nickelodeon’s sweethearts. Now friends and colleagues are so worried about her recent erratic behavior that they have been begging for police intervention. Her former publicist, Jonathan Jaxson, tweeted: “I just spoke to @AmandaBynes and she is soooo messed up on drugs and please @NY POLICE find her and help her! I don’t know her address!”
Jenny McCarthy then tweeted, “Police are at @AmandaBynes house. I hope they get her help. Enough of this circus. She needs help.”
Just over a year ago, Amanda Bynes started down a path that many probably could not foresee. It started with being charged with driving under the influence last year after she hit a police car when she was talking on her cell phone. After that, she was charged with two more hit and run accidents, which were later dismissed. Since then, her behavior has seemed to get more bizarre and erratic by the month.
More recently, she tweeted to R&B/hip-hop artist Drake Read more...