The trial involving whether Rock ‘n Roll pioneer & legend, Ike Turner, left a valid will has ended. As described in this prior article I wrote, the case pitted his six children (two of whom apparently are now questionable children of his) versus his ex-wife versus his friend and “sometime” attorney. I’m not exactly sure why someone would be a “sometime” attorney, but that’s how he was described in this North County Times (California) article about the trial.
The children argued Ike died without a valid will, leaving all to them under California’s intestate laws. The ex-wife, Audrey Madison Turner, felt that Ike had left everything to her through a handwritten will written two months before he died of a drug overdose in 2007 (even though the couple was already divorced).
The “sometime” attorney believed a prior handwritten will in 2001 left him in control of Ike’s legacy. What was that legacy? While it appeared the estate was cash-poor, the victor would receive the rights to own and profit from some 4000 songs. That’s a lot of notes!
A few days ago, the judge issued his decision. He ruled that both wills may have been valid, but a later note written by Ike Turner had revoked the last will, which in turn had revoked the 2001 will. This meant the children were the big winners . . . at least so far.
The judge also granted all of the combatants a chance to appear in front of him again to try to change his mind. This is a rare step, especially given his first ruling came through a 16-page decision, issued two weeks after the trial ended. In other words, this was far from a snap decision, which means the likelihood of him changing his mind would be minimal.
So, while we can’t declare a final winner yet, the children surely had a good time celebrating this Halloween weekend. Of course, regardless of what happens after the next court hearing, there is likely to be an appeal. The losing side almost always appeals after trials like these. There are too many emotions at stake (not to mention dollars) to go away quietly.
Too bad Ike wasn’t better about documenting his wishes and avoiding a family fight. For some reason, court fights among heirs to famous musicians are common. Just ask the families of Michael Jackson, James Brown, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia, and Whitney Houston (wait — she’s not dead yet, but she is involved in a fight over what her late father’s true wishes were).
All of these stories, and many more, are covered in the new book Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, co-written by Andrew & Danielle Mayoras. We use these stories to help make sure your family won’t end up the same way. We also teach you what to do (and not do) if you’re already in a fight.
It’s available at TrialAndHeirs.com.
Posted by: Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law. You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.