Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Current Value Of Michael Jackson’s Estate

New jacksonThe passing of Prince has brought the topic of celebrity estate planning back into public attention.  Celebrity estates can continue to generate revenue long after the person passed away. This column discusses the current value of the Michael Jackson estate.  “As I noted in yesterday's blog post, Michael Jackson's estate is claiming a value of $2,105 ... but the IRS number is in excess of $434 million.”  There is an ongoing dispute between the Michael Jackson estate and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  “Adam Streisand, a probate attorney who has worked with celebrity estates such as those of Ray Charles, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe, thinks the IRS will not successfully point to the post-death earnings of other celebrities as part of the valuation process.”

See Kyle E. Krull, What is Michael Jackson “Worth” These Day$?, The Law Offices of Kyle E. Krull P.A., May 10, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

May 13, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Judge Dismisses Sumner Redstone Competency Lawsuit

Sumner redstoneI have previously discussed the competency suit involving Sumner Redstone who is the head of Viacom. Today a Los Angeles Judge tentatively dismissed the mental competency lawsuit that was brought by Mr. Redstone’s former long-time companion Manuela Herzer. In his ruling Judge David J. Cowan said that "[H]ere there is no good cause for further judicial involvement where the Cour has now heard directly from Redstone that he has lost trust in Herzer, does not want her in his life and instead wants his daughter Sahri to look after him if necessary,"…” "[T]he court has no business interfering with his prerogatives." Today’s decision might bring this legal battle over Sumner Redstone’s mental competency to a close.

See Sumner Redstone Judge Tentatively Dismisses Competency Lawsuit, NBC, May 9, 2016.

May 9, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Music, Television, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Judge Rules That Sumner Redstone’s Competency Trial Will Remain Open To Public

Sumner redstoneA California judge ruled on Wednesday that the trial over Sumner Redstone’s advance healthcare directive will remain open to the public.  The lawsuit brought by Mr. Redstone’s ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, centers around the 92-year-old billionaire’s mental competency.  Herzer claims that Mr. Redstone lacked the mental capacity to remove her from his advance healthcare directive, and she is asking to be reinstated as the person in charge of the media mogul’s healthcare.  This case is set to be tried on May 6.  Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan did leave open the possibility that some testimony could still be shielded from the public.  Mr. Redstone’s medical records will have to be carefully examined and the information entered into evidence will be limited. 

See Lisa Richwine, Judge rejects Redstone bid to close part of competency trial, Mediacorp News Group, April 28, 2016.

April 28, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Auction For Shirley Temple’s Ring Fails

Temple ringA rare 9.54-carat blue diamond ring that once belonged to child actress Shirley Temple has failed to sell at a New York auction this Tuesday.  The predicted sale price of the ring was between $25 and $35 million.  “The Sotheby's auction for the Fancy Deep Blue Diamond ring, purchased by Temple's father for $7,210 in 1940 around the time of the actress' 12th birthday, opened bidding at $19 million and closed at $22 million, which was below the ring's reserve price.”  Sotheby’s released a statement indicating their intention to find a buyer for the ring.  The curly-haired child actress had won legions of fans during the 1930’s.  She passed away in 2014 at the age of 85 having once served as a U.S. ambassador. 

See Shirley Temple’s rare blue diamond ring fails to sell at auction, Reuters, April 19, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

April 21, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Speculation About Michael Douglas Estate Issues

Michael douglassActor Michael Douglas has had many issues in his personal life during the past decade.  This article discusses how many of the situations in his personal life impact his estate.  The 71-year-old actor has had to struggle with cancer and there are concerns that the disease might be coming back.  His second wife Catherine Zeta Jones has dealt with bipolar disorder and his oldest son once went to jail on drug charges.  This article discusses how the Michael Douglas estate would be divided up if he were to pass away.  Planning for celebrity estates can be very difficult, and the problems can be amplified when dealing with a blended family with children from a previous marriage.  This blog has posted extensively about many of the court battles surrounding the Robin Williams estate.  These types of celebrity estates require careful and detailed planning.

See Scott Martin, Michael Douglas “Death or Divorce” Rumors Raise Big Dynastic Questions, Trust Advisor, April 18, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention. 

April 20, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Intestate Succession, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

$10 Million Settlement Reached Over Paul Walker’s Tragic Death

Paul walkerThe daughter of Paul Walker has reached a $10.1 million settlement with the estate of the man who crashed the vehicle that her father died in while riding as a passenger.  “Walker was a passenger in a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT driven by Roger Rodas when the car, traveling at speeds of 80 to 93 miles per hour (129 to 150 kilometers per hour), careened into trees and a utility pole in Santa Clarita, northwest of Los Angeles.”  The settlement, which went unnoticed for a period of time because it was filed under “Meadow W,” was reached in November 2014.  The settlement probably covers only a fraction of what Paul Walker would have earned as a major movie star if his life had not tragically ended so soon.  Meadow Walker is Paul Walker’s only child and sole heir. 

See Paul Walker’s Daughter Meadow Reaches $10 Million Crash Settlement, The Huffington Post, April 9, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

April 10, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Interesting Estate Planning Of Robin Williams

Robin williamsI have previously discussed the ongoing issues surround the estate of late actor and comedian Robin Williams. One unique thing about the estate planning that was done for Robin Williams was the planning for how his likeness will be used as well as other unique personal attributes. “While Mr. Williams created a multi-tiered estate plan, he was sure to include the right to profit, or, more accurately, to curtail a person, company or entity from profiting from his likeness and publicity for 25 years following his death.” Robins Williams placed a blanket ban on the use of his likeness and other personal attributes and then bequeathed the rights to a non-profit foundation in a trust document. People often use trusts as a way of avoiding the probate process.

See Robin Williams: Not Just Another Celebrity Estate, Wealth Management, February 19, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

February 24, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Humor, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Lock Of John Lennon’s Hair Sold At Dallas Auction

How I wonThe Beatles have had a major impact on the history of music. Recently a piece of John Lennon’s hair that was snipped off in 1966 while he was preparing for a film role has sold for $35,000 at a Dallas auction. The director of the Dallas-based Heritage Auctions Garry Shrum said that the four-inch 50-year-old lock of hair is the “largest lock of John Lennon's hair ever offered at auction.” This lock of hair was cut by a German hairdresser named Klaus Baruck while John Lennon was filming How I Won the War. Mr. Baruck kept the lock of hair after trimming it off of the famous musician. The lock of hair was purchased by British art collector Paul Fraser.

See John Lennon hair lock sells for $35,000 at public auction of entertainment & music memorabilia in Dallas, Art Daily, February 22, 2016.

February 22, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Archives Of The Godfather Sold At Auction

Godfather archiveA valuable collection of archival material related to Mario Puzo’s The Godfather has been sold at an auction. The collection, which included 45-boxes of materials that included the 744-page typed draft of the famous novel sold for $625,000 at Boston’s RR Auction. “Puzo's handwritten notes and changes can be seen throughout the manuscript, which was originally titled Mafia.” There are thousands of pages of notes and drafts related to both the book and the Francis Ford Coppola films. There have been other archives sold in the past from famous authors like J.R.R Tolkien and Alan Turing. Handwritten notes from Mario Puzo over the lines “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse,” spoken by Marlon Brando, are also a part of the valuable collection.

See Sarah Cascone, Archives of ‘The Godfather’ Author Mario Puzo Sell for $625,000 at Auction, Art Net News, February 19, 2016.

February 19, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beloved Author Harper Lee Has Passed Away

Harper leeHarper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, has passed away in her sleep this morning at the age of 89. The author’s nephew and spokesman for the family Hank Conner has stated that “[w]e knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly." Lee’s novel was a story about a small town lawyer named Atticus Finch who defends a black man named Tom Robinson who was on trial for false accusations of raping a white woman. The classic story is told from the point-of-view of Finch’s young daughter Scout who witnesses the racism of the 1930’s. Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961, and her novel has since been read by millions.

See Connor Sheets, Harper Lee dead at age of 89: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ author passes away, AL, February 19, 2016.

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

February 19, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)