Tag Archives: estate

Whitney Houston’s Family Is Fighting – Is Estate Money To Blame?

Whitney Houston’s family has been through its share of disagreements since the pop diva passed away on February 11, 2012.  Early on, there was trouble at the funeral, sparking concerns of a feud with Bobby Brown.  Recently, however, the trouble has centered around Nick Gordon.  Gordon was raised and treated like a son by Whitney Houston, from the time he was 12 years old.

Whitney Houston estate

Rather than looking at Whitney Houston’s Daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, as a sister, Gordon (now age 24) and Bobbi Kristina (who just turned 21) have recently gotten married.  The tabloids are having fun with that relationship!  Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston, reportedly called the relationship “incestuous” when they were dating.  Now that they are actually married, TMZ says Cissy was furious, but she hasn’t spoken publicly about it since then.

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Trial and Heirs Top Tips For The New Year

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 contact@trialandheirs.com if you want to learn more.

3.  Review and update your estate planning documents and your financial plan with your Read more...

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Anna Nicole Smith’s Case Makes A Comeback

Anna Nicole Smith caseIt’s now, officially, the Estate Fight That Refuses To Die!  The quest for money started by Anna Nicole Smith — the former Playboy Playmate, stripper, TV reality star, and the true love of 89-year old Texas oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall — is not over.  Despite almost 18 years of litigation, two trips to the United States Supreme Court, and untold millions of dollars spent on legal fees, the Anna Nicole Smith case lives on.

Anna Nicole Smith (a/k/a Vickie Lynn Marshall) sued after her elderly husband died, following their 14-month marriage.  She was not happy being left out of his massive ($1.6 billion) estate.  She blamed one of his sons, Pierce Marshall, who inherited everything.

Anna Nicole Smith Case

The probate case started in Louisiana and then moved to Texas.  Smith sued there, but was forced to file bankruptcy in California.  When she did, Pierce sued her, filing a claim in bankruptcy court.  He claimed Smith defamed him by telling the media he committed fraud in managing his father’s Read more...

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Abraham Lincoln Estate: Are You Better Prepared Than Abraham Lincoln Was?

Less than four weeks since its release, the movie Lincoln already has earned nearly $84 million at the box office.  Chronicling Abraham Lincoln’s historic efforts to abolish slavery, the movie has garnered widespread critical and audience appeal.  Abraham Lincoln estate

At Trial & Heirs, however, we can’t help but think of another aspect of Abraham Lincoln’s life … he is one of the most notable examples of someone dying without a will.  This got us thinking, and digging.  What did happen to the Abraham Lincoln estate after he died?

According to a series of bulletins issued from the Abraham Lincoln Association, his family was understandably overcome with grief.  By noon on the day he died, April 15, 1865, Lincoln’s oldest son, Robert, sent a telegram to Justice David Davis of the United States Supreme Court.  Davis was a close friend of Lincoln and Robert considered Davis to be a “second father,” according to a letter Robert wrote years later.  The telegram said, “Please come at once to Washington to take charge of Read more...

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What Does Tupac’s Hologram Mean For Other Celebrity Estates?

INDIO, CA - APRIL 15:  A hologram of deceased ...The music world has been buzzing ever since the surprise appearance of Tupac Shakur — well, that is, a digitally-created 3-D image of Tupac — on stage to rap at the Coachella music festival in California.  Some have described this as creepy, like seeing a ghost.  Is this going to be a new trend for celebrity estates?  Should it be?

First, there is the issue of legality.  Was it legal for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg to bring Tupac’s image on stage?  Because this was a use of Tupac’s image and likeness for commercial purposes, only the holder of the “right of publicity” for Tupac could authorize it.  That right is owned by Tupac’s estate, under the control of the executor — his mother, Afeni Shakur.

Reportedly, she not only authorized it, but was thrilled with the outcome.  Dr. Dre repaid the estate for this permission with a contribution to the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, which is Tupac’s charity.

Dr. Dre has already said he’d love to bring out other Read more...

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Martin Luther King Estate: Another Lawsuit Brewing Because Martin Luther King, Jr. Died Without A Will

There is no doubt about the greatness of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, his estate planning wasn’t so great.  In fact, King made a mistake that too many people make everyday in our country … he procrastinated with his legal planning and died without a will.  Though no one can anticipate a tragic assassination like MLK’s, the reality is no one is promised tomorrow.  Every adult should have at least a basic will.Martin Luther King Estate

In large part because of this, his legacy has been marred by fighting among his children over the handling of his estate, including claims of secrecy, mismanagement and misappropriating assets.  Years ago, MLK’s heirs formed a corporation to manage King’s estate, but then they fought over control over the corporation. You can read Trial & Heirs’ coverage of the lawsuit between the King children here.  Luckily, the heirs were able to reach a settlement and ended that round of fighting.

But, that doesn’t mean the court battles have ended.  The corporation which operates the estate Read more...

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Is 94-Year-Old Zsa Zsa Gabor Going To Be A New Mother?

Zsa Zsa Gabor has always been associated with glamour in Hollywood — queen of film and television over the course of a five-decade career, married nine times, and even able to parlay a famous slap of a police officer into a career revival.  In fact, she has recently been called “the first and probably biggest Hollywood celeb to become famous for being famous.” Aptly put.

But when does pursuing fame cross the line for a 94-year old? That point may have come this week, when her husband of 25 years told the media that he had started the process of donor matching and blood work so he could turn Zsa Zsa into Ma Ma.

That’s right, the esteemed Prince Frederic von Anhalt is planning to arrange for an egg donor, surrogate mother, and artificial insemination to allow Zsa Zsa to once again enjoy the wonder of motherhood.

Why in the world would he do this?  He said that he wants someone to be able to carry on the Gabor Read more...

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Estate and Wishes of James Brown Tied Up In Court Fights

The Godfather of Soul passed away on Christmas Day, 2006, and generously left his $100 million fortune to a special trust set up to help poor and needy children.  Yet, four-and-a-half years later, not one child has seen a cent.  Why?  

The court battle over his final wishes has dragged on … and on … and on, as court fights often do.  While most estate fights are devastating for family members, both emotionally and financially, this one has affected many more — those that needed help the most.  How did this happen?

James Brown passed away with at least nine children, three ex-wives, and a woman who may or may not have been his widow.  This woman, Tomi Rae Hynie, was technically still married to another man when she tied the knot with James Brown (although that marriage was later annulled, reportedly).  Hynie also had a child named James Brown, II, which may or may not have been fathered by Brown.  To complicate the estate, Brown never updated his will Read more...

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Tasha Tudor Estate: Will contest rages over estate of illustrator Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor was a beloved children’s book illustrator and author who was considered by many to be a 19-century Martha Stewart.  She lived as if it was the 1800s, on a New England farm.  She even raised her four children for years without electricity or running water.  She illustrated such classics as The Wind in the Willows, The Night Before Christmas, and The Secret Garden.  Tasha Tudor estate

Tudor died at the age of 92 on June 18, 2008, eccentric to the end.  According to the New York Times, she claimed to be the reincarnation of a sea captain’s wife who lived in the early 19th Century and she strove to replicate that life.  Tudor said that, after she passed, she intended to return to the 1830s.

Tasha Tudor estate has been estimated to be worth more that two million dollars.  She left almost all of it to only one of her four children.

The will was reportedly signed in 2001 and left everything to her son Seth, and his son Winslow, except

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Anna Nicole Smith Estate loses out on $88 Million

Can the Granddaddy of all probate disputes finally be nearing an end?  Those in charge of the Anna Nicole Smith Estate certainly hope not.  Smith, also known as Vickie Lynn Marshall, battled for a share of her late husband’s multi-billion dollar estate for almost 12 years before she died.  Here’s the Probate Lawyer Blog’s discussion of the case to bring you up to speed. 

To cut to the chase, Smith was broken hearted when she didn’t inherit anything from the estate or trust of J. Howard Marshall II, her late husband (who was more than 60 years older than she was).  Smith filed legal claims seeking a piece of his fortune in two different states; she lost in Texas but won in California.  Her victory was snatched away by the federal court of appeals, but she found new hope when that ruling was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 2006.  Yes, that’s right, the highest court in our land ruled in favor of the ex-Playboy Playmate.

But, now,

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