It’s amazing how poorly planned many celebs are. Thomas Kinkade’s estate debacle was yet another in a long line of messed up celebrity estates. The Sacramento Bee has reported that it has been settled privately. Here is a link to the article.
Sherman Hemsley is deceased… and just like the Jefferson re-runs will go on forever… his probate case may also. This is an interesting one and it clearly underscores the importance of a really good estate plan. Mr. Jefferson was a very successful businessman on the Jeffersons. My recollection is he made his money in the dry cleaning business. In fact, you may recall he was neighbors with bigoted Archie Bunker before he moved on up….
Fast forward 25 years and Mr. J is dead but a fight persists in probate Court!
His long time partner is battling against a brother who has come out of the woodwork and a distant cousin too. No matter how successful a person may be that doesn’t mean they get a good estate plan. He apparently died with a will but not a good one.
If you have family that may come out of the woodwork hire a good attorney and get your plan set up air tight!
Link to article on the Hemsley latest.
It seems that Katherine Jackson has a team of attorneys working on her behalf as Executor of the estate of her late son, Michael. The latest has to do with possibly wrongful use of the pop star’s copyrights after death by Howard Mann. I will paste the link to the article on Sacbee.com below. As a distant observer this estate continues to show you how NOT to do an estate plan. Here are a few observations of how you can do better than Michael:
1) have a trust;
2) put all your assets into the trust;
3) select a professional trustee.
Link to article here.
I find celebrity estates interesting because they often mess things up much worse than us mere mortals. However, it also is a good reminder that they are humans too!
I wrote recently about Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys and his handwritten changes to his will. Other celebrities have left similar, or worse, handwritten wills. If memory serves Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead and also a US Supreme Court justice both left handwritten wills. Mr. Yauch’s was just partially handwritten… one phrase… and that phrase will likely cause years of litigation.
In any event today I am writing about the part of his will written by his lawyer. Clearly he and his wife did not see eye-to-eye on who should be guardian of their children. If the second death, between he and his wife, happened in an even year his parents were first choice to be guardian of the kids. On the other hand if the death was in an odd year then her parents were first choice for guardian. Sure it’s possible there was some good luck type thing involved but I think it was just a straight compromise.
Really it’s a great compromise. Why fight about it!? Just come up with a unique agreement! I like to think I am a creative estate planning attorney but I have never thought of this one before. However, I am sure I will have the opportunity to use it before long with some young couple!
When you get your will in place make sure you have guardians named for your minor children. Also it’s a good idea to have a living trust or testamentary trust to protect their assets. If you aren’t sure what to do please hire an experienced estate planning attorney.
I came across an interesting article in Forbes the other day about Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys and a change he made to his will before death. Of course back in ’86 the Beastie Boys hit it BIG with the album Licensed to Ill which remains one of my top 5 favorite albums of all time; yes, I still call them albums. He wrote that his name was MCA and that he had a license to kill and that it was time to get ill. In any event, he was born and bred in Brooklyn of the USA and like a lime to a lemon he tried to write his own will… willl… willl.
His will (but not the trust the will pours over to) is a public record in the state of New York. It contained the following provision which is common for entertainers:
“Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name be used for advertising purposes.”
However, MCA, before signing the will, interlineated (added in) some extra words so that the will now reads as follows (his added handwritten provision is underlined):
“Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes.”
It appears that Mr. Yauch may have inadvertently created a fight which could employ many lawyers to unwind. I always tell my clients not to write anything extra on their wills… and his lawyer likely told him the same. However, he also liked to put a pen to paper and write some def rhymes.
The problem gets into the difference between his public rights and his copyright rights. Mr. Yauch owned HIS publicity rights but his copyrights were owned by various entities including the Beastie Boys themselves (or a partnership by that name anyway).
Nobody knows exactly what he meant but my guess is the very publicly spiritual man probably didn’t want his likeness plastered on dozens of commercials and TV shows as so often happens (see Elvis or Michael Jackson). I have met with clients like this who just want their families to live a comfortable life on the millions he left and leave it at that. Keep things simple. However, he potentially cut off his family’s ability to have a voice in the use of his copyrights… and since he only owned a portion of the rights those songs will keep on playing.
Like a 12 inch single with an extended re-mix this song might play a while. I will post more information when I hear it.
I just read yet another article regarding Michael Jackson’s estate. His siblings are still suggesting the will is fake… two years after he died. However, how does that benefit them? If the will is invalid then the estate goes 100% to the kids. Michael’s money-grubbing siblings never get anything. Makes no sense and just seems OFF THE WALL to me!
Check the link here.
I just read the article on the Sacramento Bee’s website (sacbee.com) about the Thomas Kinkade estate dispute. What a horribly unnecessary waste of legal resources!
With just a little bit of estate planning Mr. Kinkade could avoid his legal wife and apparent girlfriend from fighting in Court. Each has to hire at least one attorney and drag the laundry right through the Court of public opinion.
He was legally separated from his wife and thus he was free to change his estate plan if he wanted to. Maybe he did want to give his estate to his girlfriend!? That’s great. That’s his privilege and with some simple estate planning documents that could be accomplished. Or maybe he wanted to leave everything to his wife of 30 years even though they were legally separated. Again, that could be accomplished with some simple estate planning work.
In all cases just hire an experienced estate planning attorney and get it done right! Avoid the fights after death!
I just read this interesting article on Forbes.com about British musician Amy Winehouse. Ms. Winehouse died in July 2011. Her estate is estimated at about $6.7m (in US Dollars) but after the costs of probate and similar fees it is reduced to approximately $4.66m. Her parents split that money, as next of kin, as they are divorced. Is that what Ms. Winehouse wanted? Maybe she wanted the money to go to someone else? Maybe she didn’t want to waste $2m in fees and costs!? The bottom line is you should get your estate in order so you do not fall victim to this problem as Ms. Winehouse did.
It seems that every celebrity that dies has a messed up estate plan or, worse, NO ESTATE PLAN! What’s up with that? I just saw this great article on Forbes.com about Whitney Houston’s will. I encourage you to read it. Very sad death and sounds like it will be a sad probate, after death. Here’s a link to the whole article at forbes.com.