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Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Jenni Rivera's Estate Problems

Jenni RiveraJenni Rivera is a famous television star and a singer-songwriter from Mexico. She probably would have become famous in the United States if it were not for her untimely death this past December. The star was in a plane crash in Mexico and tragically lost her life. Rivera lived a difficult life, which included three marriages, two that ended in divorce and a third that was in the process of ending. Her third husband, Esteban Loaiza, and she did not finalize their divorce because of her death. The only estate planning documents that we know Rivera's owns is a letter that she wrote, detailing that her sister Rosie would take over her businesses. The letter also stated that Rosie would also manage her "music interests, her assets, and even care of her two minor children (their father, Rivera's second husband, died in 2009)." This is surprising because her estate was apparently valued at $25 million.

So, at best, Rivera only has a holographic will but it is still unclear as to whether the letter is a holographic will. In California where Rivera lived, there must be "clear and convincing evidence that the person intended the document to be a will when it was signed." Only then will Rivera's letter be accepted as a valid will. There are other issues with dividing her estate. The main issue is the fact that she was technically married to Loaiza in California when she died, so some of her estate might be subject to community property laws. Of course, Loaiza might not inherit anything if there is a prenuptial agreement in place. Finally, we are still a little unclear on whether Rivera had any other estate planning documents in place, such as a living trust. All of these considerations and conflicts are likely to lead to conflict. We will see as more information becomes available.

See Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Jenni Rivera's Estate Heading For Turmoil, Forbes, Jan. 7, 2013.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

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