Tag Archives: undue influence

Could Feud Over Saints Owner Tom Benson Happen In Your Family?

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.  Tom Benson 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...

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Kim Kardashian Divorce Update: Case Settled With Kris Humphries

Not many people — even celebrities — can claim a record as impressive as the Kim Kardashian divorce with Kris Humphries.  The marriage:  72 days.  The divorce:  536 days.  But, it’s finally over.  Kim Kardashian Divorce

And according to reports, it was Kris Humphries who caved at the last minute to settle the case, just weeks ahead of the May 6 trial date.  Per TMZ, Humphries had been demanding either an annulment based on fraud or a $7 million pay-out.

So why the change of heart for Humphries?  For one, it’s seldom easy to prove a case of fraud in court.  It’s easy to claim fraud, but in divorce, civil, and probate cases alike, actually finding the goods to prove fraud is not easy.  Humphries’ lawyers tried, conducting many depositions and digging through extensive records.  Reportedly, they did not find enough proof that Kim Kardashian tricked Humphries into the marriage or staged it only for publicity.

Kim Kardashian Divorce Settlement

ABC News published an interesting story about a key deposition from the Read more...

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Huguette Clark Estate: Mysteries Surround the $400 Million Estate

Huguette Clark was a mysterious and reclusive New York multi-millionairess who passed away on May 24, 2011, a mere two weeks short of her 105th birthday.  Huguette Clark estate

Clark was the daughter, and only surviving child, of William Andrews Clark, who died in 1925 and was believed to be one of the richest Americans at the time.  He built his wealth through copper mining and served as a senator of Montana.  For many years, his daughter was thought to have died long ago.  Indeed, Huguette Clark hadn’t been seen in the Fifth Avenue apartment that she lived in (and still owned when she died) in 22 years.

Where was she all that time?  Living in a hospital room, even though she was in good health when she moved there in the late 1980s.  Watched over by a private nurse, her attorney, and an accountant — who was a convicted sex offender — Clark was said to have considered her collection of dolls to be her closest companions.  She was isolated from her Read more...

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Tony Curtis Estate: Tony Curtis’ Kids Say He Was the Victim of Undue Influence

Tony Curtis estateThe Tony Curtis Estate held an auction this weekend to unload hundreds of memorabilia, articles of clothing and other property belonging to the famed actor who died last September at age 85, after years of poor health.  Julien’s Auction House in Beverly Hills, California, conducted the online auction and raised more than one million dollars.  The money went to the benefit of Tony’s widow and fifth wife, Jill Vandenberg Curtis, with a portion going to the couple’s charity.

So how much did his five children, including actress Jamie Lee Curtis, stand to receive from this?  Absolutely nothing.

Tony Curtis redid his Will and Trust in May of last year, a few months before he died from cardiac arrest.  When he did so, he cut out all of his children.  His will lists all five by name — including Jamie Lee — and states that he intentionally disinherited them.  No reason was given in his will.

Tony Curtis Estate

His children were shocked by it and are not happy.  And this Read more...

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The Dennis Hopper Trust Battle Is Getting Nastier

Celebrity heirs fighting over the estate is far from uncommon … the Trial & Heirs Blog never has a shortage of material to cover. But, it is unusual when an ugly court battle starts before the celebrity dies and then only continues to grow more heated as time passes. That certainly has been the case with the Dennis Hopper Estate.

The Easy Rider star filed for divorce from his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper, in January, 2010. Victoria is about six years younger than Dennis’ oldest child, daughter Marin Hopper. The two have been feuding for some time now.

The Dennis Hopper Trust Battle

As explained in this prior Dennis Hopper article from Trial & Heirs, Victoria claims that Dennis’ children put him up to the divorce, manipulated him, and that he didn’t really want to divorce her. These claims were a bit at odds with other allegations she made in her lawsuits, including that Dennis Hopper was abusive and controlling of her during their marriage. So were they Read more...

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Panama court throws out will that left millions to poor children

It surely must rank as one of the most devastating will contest cases any country has ever seen …  especially for the hundreds of thousands of impoverished children in Panama.   Wilson-Lucom

Wilson Lucom (pictured, right) was a wealthy tycoon from Florida whose third wife, Hilda, was from one of Panama’s wealthiest families.  Hilda had previously been married to a powerful politician in the country and has five adult children from that marriage.  Wilson and Hilda lived in Panama when he died in 2006.

Wilson Lucom’s will left more than $50 million to help the staggering number of poor children in Panama.  Hilda and her family weren’t very happy with the will and filed legal proceedings to have the will thrown out in 2006.  You can read our prior blog article about the case here.

Wilson’s will was upheld by the first two courts in Panama that heard the case.  But Hilda appealed again, to Panama’s Supreme Court.  Before the ruling came out, there were some interesting articles, including this one Read more...

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Huguette Clark guardianship; another Brooke Astor case?

Huguette Clark is a 104-year mysterious and reclusive New York multi-millionaire whose situation bears a striking resemblance to that of the late Brooke Astor.  Like with Astor, Clark is now the subject of a guardianship proceeding in New York brought by relatives who fear that she has been financially exploited.  Clark’s fortune is estimated to be worth half a billion dollars.  Huguette Clark

Clark is the daughter, and only surviving child, of William Andrews Clark, who died in 1925 and was described as the first or second richest American at that time.  He built his wealth through copper mining and served as a senator of Montana.  Many believed his daughter had died long ago.  Indeed, she hadn’t been seen in the Fifth Avenue apartment that she lived in (and still owns) in 22 years.

An Investigative Reporter for MSNBC.com recently published a lengthy two-part article about Clark and how she has resided alone, in an ordinary New York hospital room, for those 22 years, while her attorney, Wallace Bock, and accountant, Irving Read more...

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Gary Coleman Estate: More wills … and yes, more fighting

The craziness surrounding the Gary Coleman estate, a mere two weeks after he passed, continues to grow.  We now have not one — but two — new wills that recently surfaced.Gary Coleman Estate

As The Probate Lawyer Blog recently discussed, Coleman’s ex-wife, Shannon Price, produced a new handwritten codicil (meaning a will amendment) that favors her.  Dated about one week after the couple married in 2007, the document, in Coleman’s handwriting, spelled out that everything should pass to Price.

TMZ has obtained and posted a copy of the handwritten will.  One part of it is very interesting:

“I have made this change of free will and and was not coerced in any way.  This I have done because of my personal selfishness and weakness and I love her with all of my heart.”

Why would Coleman feel the need to spell this out if there was no question of coercion?  And what did he mean by “selfishness and weakness”?  Did it have anything to do with the fact that Coleman 

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More fireworks for the Gary Coleman Estate

The Probate Lawyer Blog posed the question a few days ago:  Will there be a fight over Gary Coleman’s estate?  It looks like we have an answer — a resounding “Yes!”.Willis-and-arnold

And it all centers around Gary Coleman’s final wishes.  The 1999 will has been released.  You can download Gary Coleman’s Will (courtesy of TMZ).

It’s very brief (all of a page and a half), and it appoints his friend Dion Mial as executor and directs that all of his assets be turned over to a trust he created called the Millennium Edge Trust.

It also states that he should be cremated and that only those with no “financial ties” to him be invited to his wake.  Coleman wants them to “look each other in the eyes and say they really cared personally for Gary Coleman.”  And no members of the press are invited!

Based on this language, ex-wife Shannon Price may not be included.  It sure looks like she has financial ties to him — at least, if

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Will there be a fight over Gary Coleman’s estate?

Gary Coleman died just over a week ago, on May 28, 2010.  And in that week, there have already been enough surprises to spark a whole series of “Whatcha talkin ’bout Willis!”‘s.  Coleman and Price

First came the question of how Gary Coleman died at the age of 42.  According to the 911 tapes, Shannon Price (who called herself his wife) summoned emergency personnel when he fell and hit his head.  She was frantic over what to do with her “husband”.

Sadly, he didn’t recover from the accident, despite being “conscious and lucid” the next morning, according to a Provo, Utah hospital spokesman.  He took a turn for the worse and was put on life support until Price decided to pull the plug, only two days after he hit his head.

Coleman’s parents were bothered after they learned of his death from the media.  Of course, these parents weren’t exactly close with their son.  He had successfully sued them in 1989, claiming they had stolen much of his earnings as a childhood star

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