Category Archives: Wills

Bill Cosby Headlines The Top Ten Celebrity Legal Battles Of 2015

What better way to start the new year than by counting down Trial & Heirs Top Ten Celebrity Legal Battles of 2015, complete with lessons?

  1. Bill Cosby vs. many woman – Andrea Constad is one of dozens of women who have sued Cosby for defamation, accusing the comedian and actor of lying when he denied sexually abusing them years ago.  In Constad’s civil lawsuit, Cosby’s deposition was unsealed, revealing that he admitted giving women quaaludes and having intercourse with them.  He says both the drug use and sex were consensual.  Recently, a Pennsylvania district attorney brought charges against Cosby for sexual assault based on the 2004 encounter with Constad.

    Bill Cosby: A History of Alleged Rapes and Cover-Ups

    Lesson:  When victims of assault or other injuries wait too long, they lose the right to sue under the statute of limitations.  The specific length of time varies based on what state the events happened in and what type of claim is brought.  That’s why most of the accusers are suing Cosby

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Celebrity Legacies: James Dean Estate Has A Cause

James Dean was the iconic rebel without a cause.  The James Dean Estate, on the other hand, has been driven by a cause — maximizing the value of his image and likeness.  But was it taken too far when his heirs sued Twitter?  James Dean

This is installment #16 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.

Perhaps no Hollywood legend has lasted so long, and left such an impact, as James Dean.  After dying in a tragic car crash at age 24, in 1955, Dean continued to appear among the top of highest earning deceased celebrities year after year, including being in the top ten as recently as 2012, when his estate earned about five million dollars.  Not bad for actor who only starred in three major films.

James Dean died without a will, leaving his estate and financial legacy to his father Read more...

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Celebrity Legacies: No Easy Ride For Dennis Hopper’s Estate

When is a divorce more than just a divorce?  When famed actor Dennis Hopper battled through an ugly divorce against his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper, the battle was more about Dennis Hopper’s estate than anything else.  So perhaps no one should be surprised that the war turned uglier once Dennis died.  Dennis Hopper Estate

This is installment #15 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.

The Easy Rider star had anything but an easy ride during the last few months of his life.  He passed away from cancer at age 73, smack-dab in the middle of his divorce war with Victoria, who was actually six years younger than Dennis Hopper’s oldest daughter.

Dennis had filed for divorce, accusing Victoria of being insane, inhuman, and volatile.  Victoria responded by claiming that Dennis was not mentally competent and that his adult children from his prior marriages Read more...

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Answering Questions About Whitney Houston’s Millions And Bobbi Kristina’s Death

After a six-month coma, the life of Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, has tragically ended.  Just how tragic her short life really was may not be known for some time.  But the details that have emerged are nothing short of heart-wrenching, if the allegations of a recently-filed lawsuit filed on behalf of Bobbi Kristina prove to be true.

According to that lawsuit, Whitney Houston’s millions were at the heart of this tragedy.  But what role did they really play in Bobbi Kristina’s death?

It was on January 31, 2015 that Bobbi Kristina was found unresponsive, unconscious, and face down in a bath tub.  That was nearly three years from the day her mother famously drowned, also in a bathtub.  Bobbi Kristina was placed into a medically-induced coma and reportedly suffered severe brain damage.

While various relatives made contradictory public statements over her condition, they cooperated enough to permit her father, Bobby Brown, and her aunt, Pat Houston, to serve together as Bobbi Kristina’s co-guardians, managing her medical care and Read more...

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How The Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling Impacts Estate Planning

gay marriage ruling impacts estate planningAs gay, lesbian, and other proponents of same-sex marriages celebrate the United States Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, millions of Americans will now be eligible for dramatically different legal rights upon the death or disability of a life partner than were previously possible.

In fact, in the field of estate planning — including planning for not only what happens when someone dies but also when someone becomes incapacitated — the landscape in the LGBT community has just changed.  Gay and lesbian couples now have a level playing field, equal to opposite-sex couples.

Supreme Court Ruling On Gay Marriage Means Financial & Estate Planning Changes

The legal implications are far-ranging, from symbolic, to monetary, to life-changing.  In fact, the Supreme Court opinion in Obergefell illustrates this by sharing the stories of three sets of plaintiffs involved in that case.

Gay Marriage Ruling Lead Plaintiff, James Obergefell

The lead plaintiff, James Obergefell, was motivated by nothing more than being legally recognized as the spouse of his partner, John Read more...

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What’s Driving The B.B. King Estate Feud?

The late Riley B. King — better known as blues legend B.B. King — often said that the only woman in his life was his guitar, Lucille.  But that wasn’t exactly true.  King estimated that he had 15 children by 15 different women.  No wonder one of his biggest hits was called, When Love Comes To Town.

B.B. King EstateB.B. King took responsibility for his children.  According to CNN, he set up a multimillion dollar education fund for his descendants.  King wrote in his memoir that he assumed responsibility every time a woman came to him and said a child was his, without arguing about whether that was true or not.  One of his daughters, Patty King, said in a previous interview with Rolling Stone that B.B. King was a great dad who had “done well” by his children.

That same daughter is now leading the charge against B.B. King’s business manager of 39 years, LaVerne Toney.  Patty King and half-sister Karen Williams lead a panel of five King children, Read more...

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Celebrity Legacies: Aaron Spelling Left Behind Massive Fortune & A Broken Family

What would it be like to grow up in a 123-room mansion in a swanky Los Angeles suburb, rubbing elbows with celebrities, and buying anything you want?  Sounds pretty great — unless it was all taken away from you as an adult.  As Tori Spelling wrote in her autobiography, it’s not easy going from having a silver spoon in your mouth to a plastic one.  Tori Spelling, Aaron Spelling & Candy Spelling

This is installment #14 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.

Aaron Spelling was one of the most successful television producers ever, masterminding such hits such as Charlie’s AnglesBeverly Hills 90210Dynasty, and The Love Boat.  When Spelling died after a severe stroke in 2006, at 83 years old, he left behind a fortune worth an estimated $500 million at the time.  He owned the largest house in all of Los Angeles Read more...

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“Was He A Hero?” And Other Questions Surround Chris Kyle’s Estate – The American Sniper

As the movie, American Sniper, enjoys box office success, questions and controversies surround the estate of Chris Kyle.  One of his biggest critics is Jesse Ventura, the always-outspoken former professional wrestler and potential presidential candidate. Ventura recently explained in an interview with Howard Stern on SiriusXM that “Chris Kyle is not a hero. A hero must have an honor, and a liar has no honor.” Ventura feels that Kyle had a talent for shooting straight, but was merely doing his job and does not deserve hero status.

Jesse Ventura Wins Lawsuit Vs Chris Kyle – The American Sniper

Jesse Ventura has not been the only one to question the hero label placed on Chris Kyle. Bill Maher, Seth Rogan, Michael Moore and others have also made comments questioning the glorification of Chris Kyle in the movie, while Howard Stern, Sarah Palin, Rupert Murdoch and others have defended his hero status. Ventura, however, has been the most vocal about the topic — perhaps because his view of Chris Kyle is Read more...

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Battles Brews Over Ernie Banks Estate, Caregiver Listed As Sole Heir

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.  Ernie Banks Estate

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...

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Celebrity Legacies: Marlon Brando’s Estate Marred by Dozens of Lawsuits

Unquestionably, Marlon Brando was one of the leading actors of the 20th century.  The well-known Godfather was always in firm control … until it came to his estate that is.  Marlon Brando's Estate

This is installment #12 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.

Marlon Brando never followed convention.  He won his Oscar for Best Actor in 1973 for The Godfather, but Brando rejected the award as a protest to the treatment of Native Americans by the film industry.  Too bad he failed to follow the norms when it came to estate planning.

In part due to questions about his true intentions as expressed in his will and trust, Marlon Brando’s estate was involved in more than two dozens lawsuits by 2009 — five years after his death.  He passed away on July 1, 2004, at 80 years of age, suffering from a Read more...

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