Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Carrie Fisher's Daughter Billie Lourd Will Inherit Nearly $7 Million

0809-carrie-fisher-billie-lourde-tmz-7Billie Lourd, daughter of Carrie Fisher, is set to inherit nearly $7 million of personal property left to her by her mother. $6.8 million is a relatively substantial inheritance, but it is quite diminutive in comparison to the $2 billion in revenue earned by the latest Star Wars film in which Fisher played. It is possible there is additional money that has been left in trust, which would not be reflected in the probate of Fisher’s will.

See Carrie Fisher's Daughter Billie Lourd Will Inherit Nearly $7 Million, TMZ, August 9, 2017.

August 14, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Vanity Fair Sued Over Marilyn Monroe's Famous Happy Birthday Photo

0804-marilyn-monroe-exhibit-3Aric Hendrix is accusing Vanity Fair of stealing a famous photo of Marilyn Monroe and using it an edition of their magazine. Hendrix claims he owns the rights to the picture of Monroe taken during President John F. Kennedy’s famous 45th birthday celebration. Hendrix is a collector of historical photographs and owns both the photo and the negative of the Monroe picture in question. He is currently suing for damages in excess of $1 million.

See Vanity Fair Sued Over Marilyn Monroe's Famous Happy Birthday Photo, TMZ, August 4, 2017.

August 5, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Carrie Fisher's Final Assets Revealed, Billie Lourd Named Beneficiary of the Estate

Carrie-Fisher-as-Princess-Leia-in-Star-Wars-Episode-IV-A-New-HopeBillie Lourd, daughter of Carrie Fisher, has been named the beneficiary of her mother’s estate. Fisher’s assets include several bank accounts, a 2016 Tesla S, and a life insurance policy. Fisher’s jewelry, artwork, and collectibles will go to her daughter as well. Lourd will also receive the rights to her mother’s likeness and image as well as her intellectual property rights. These include rights to ongoing earnings from Fisher’s books, specials, trademarks, and copyrights. Fisher died on December 27, 2016 after going into cardiac arrest during a flight from London to Los Angeles a week prior.

See Mike Miller, Carrie Fisher's Final Assets Revealed, Billie Lourd Named Beneficiary of the Estate, People Movies, July 7, 2017.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 10, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Article on Artistic Control After Death

Elvis_presley-54661e739c533-lEva E. Subotnik recently published an Article entitled, Artistic Control After Death, Wills, Trusts, & Estate Law eJournal (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

To what extent should authors be able to control what happens to their literary, artistic, and musical creations after they die? Viewed through the lens of a number of succession law trends, the evidence might suggest that strong control is warranted. The decline of the Rule Against Perpetuities and rise of incentive trusts reflect a tightening grip of the dead hand. And yet, an unconstrained ability of the dead to determine future uses of literature, art, and music is a fundamentally troubling notion. This Article evaluates the instructions authors give with respect to their authorial works against the backdrop of the laws and policies that govern bequests more generally. In particular, it considers the enforceability of attempted artistic control through the imposition of a fiduciary duty. In balancing the competing interests, this Article considers the demands of both state trust laws and federal copyright policy. In the end, this Article argues that authorial instructions must yield to the needs of the living. Such a view requires that, to the greatest extent possible, some living person(s) be authorized to decide how works of authorship are used—even if that means overriding artistic control by the dead.

Special thanks to Robert H. Sitkoff (John L. Gray Professor of Law, Harvard Law School) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 7, 2017 in Articles, Books, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Music, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Death Can Wait

ReinerCarl Reiner’s most recent book is suitably entitled “Too Busy to Die.” The 95-year old comedic legend thanks his vivid dreams as inspiration for his oftentimes zany ideas. Reiner, creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and director of movies like “The Jerk” and “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” said in a recent interview that as long as his mind keeps popping, he will keep going. Reiner will be featured in an HBO documentary on Monday, June 5. The show features stereotype-shattering nonagenarians like Reiner and provides a look into the still-vibrant lives of individuals over 90.

See Dan Hyman, For Carl Reiner and His Fellow Nonagenarians, Death Can Wait, New York Times, June 2, 2017.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

June 5, 2017 in Books, Current Events, Elder Law, Film, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

For Whom Does the Bell Toll?

DeathFrank Ostaseski has travelled alongside over 1,000 hospice care patients as they have taken the final steps toward the end of life. Despite such a melancholy subject matter, Ostaseski encourages his audiences to learn about death; to sit down and face death to see what it can teach about life. The speech is available as a podcast or video. The content and the unique delivery contain a potent message that stands to shift any audience’s perspective on death and dying.

See Frank Ostaseski, What the Dying Teach the Living, The Long Now Foundation, April 10, 2017.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 23, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Film, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Michael Jackson's Estate Poised for Suit

502536-michael-jackson-617-409Both Lifetime and Netflix have soon-to-be-released movies with Michael Jackson as their centerpiece. While it may be unthinkable to release a cinematic depiction of the beloved pop star absent his unique music balancing the soundtrack, the networks would be better off without. Neither program has been officially authorized by Jackson’s estate. Given this, there are attorneys waiting on the sidelines to see if either film uses any unauthorized materials. The estate representatives have not seen the movies as of yet, so no action is currently underway. This circumstance may change by Monday.

See Michael Jackson Estate: Hey, Lifetime & Netflix...Make Your Movies, Just No MJ Tunes, TMZ, May 22, 2017.

May 23, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Alan Thicke's Sons Go to War

0516-alan-thicke-tanya-callau-tmz-instagram-3Alan Thicke’s sons, Robin and Brennan, believe Thicke’s third wife, Tanya Callau, is attempting to carve out more of his estate than she deserves. The sons are claiming that Callau has threatened to go to the tabloids if she does not receive more than what Thicke left her in his will. As it is, Callau allegedly received 25% of Thicke’s personal assets, 40% of the remaining estate, a $500,000 life insurance policy, and a guarantee that she could remain at the ranch. The sons do not want Callau to receive any additional dispersion and want a judge to enforce the will and prenup.

See Alan Thicke: Sons Go to War with His Wife to Protect the Estate, TMZ, May 16, 2017.

May 17, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Legal Issues of Dead but In-Demand Actors

Princess fisherWhen Carrie Fisher died, Princess Leia did not have to die with her. Celebrities should be considering legacy planning, or the planning of a celebrity’s public persona, as one aspect of estate planning. This type of planning can be complicated because the laws have not caught up to technology’s ability to posthumously resurrect characters onscreen. Posthumous protections vary by state, so it is important to appoint someone you trust to handle your post-death career.

See Ashley Cullins, Carrie Fisher, ‘Star Wars’ and the Legal Issues of Dead but In-Demand Actors, Hollywood Reporter, May 1, 2017.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 6, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio's Marriage Certificate Hits the Auction Block

Dimaggio and monroeJoe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe’s marriage certificate is hitting the auction block, but the selling price is not cheap. The auction house expects the winning bid to reach $75,000. The baseball legend and superstar model got married on January 14, 1954 at the height of both their careers. The marriage, however, only lasted nine months because of DiMaggio’s alleged jealousy. You can bid on the iconic item through June 3.

See Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn Monroe Marriage Certificate Hits Auction Block . . . Could Fetch $75K!!, TMZ, May 1, 2017.

May 2, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)