Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Lesson in Intestacy from Tupac Shakur

TupacThe 22nd anniversary of the unsolved murder of Tupac Shakur, known as 2Pac within the rap world, recently passed on September 13th. Though his life and death may be steeped in controversy and mystery respectively, his estate can seen as a study in mult-generational estate planning, litigation, and management.

Shakur died in intestate in 1996 at the young age of 25, and his entire estate was inherited by his mother, Afeni Shakur. There was even litigation in 1997 from William Garland claiming to be Tupac absent father and demanding one half of the late rapper's estate. The court found that Garland had not demonstrated a substantial relationship nor support to be treated as an heir of Shakur's. His fatherly support over the artist's life consisted of $820, a bag of peanuts, and a ticket to "Rollerball."

Afeni Shakur, however, managed her deceased son's estate admirably, growing his estate both popularly and financially. Shakur's estate released six posthumous albums — including 1996’s The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory and 1998’s Greatest Hits, which are each certified 10 times platinum — a Broadway musical, several books, documentaries, clothing, and merchandise. Shakur is the first deceased performer to appear as a hologram (at Coachella in 2012). He is also the only artist to be nominated posthumously for the Grammy’s Best Solo Rap Performance award (in 2000 for Changes).

Afeni Shakur passed away in 2016 at the age of 69, but the estate had alternative fiduciaries so little is left up to chance and speculation. The words of Shakur’s homage to his mother ring true in his song dedicated to her: “Oh mama, I appreciate you. Although my shadow’s gone I will never leave you.”

See Cori A. Robinson, A Lesson in Intestacty from Tupac Shakur, Above the Law, September 11, 2018.

Special thanks to Carissa Peterson (Associate, Hrbacek Law Firm, Sugar Land, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 16, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

This Financial Document is a Matter of Life and Death — and Most of Us Don’t Have One

PrinceIn some aspects, the American public is still reeling from that fact not only did the great Aretha Franklin die of pancreatic cancer 2 weeks ago, the music great passed away without a will dictating her last wishes. The public outcry seems belated, however, as there was also surprise in 2016 at the passing of Prince without a valid will to divide the artist's assets.

In 2016 after the death of Prince, a Gallup poll showed that 44% of Americans had wills, down from 51% in 2015. A recently conducted survey by Caring.com revealed that the number has decreased again to 42% of Americans having made wills. “It makes people uncomfortable to think about dying, but I’m sorry — everyone is going to die at some point,” Laura Dixon, the editorial manager of Caring.com, told Moneyish.

A will can contain many things besides money, such as real property, funeral wishes, or guardianship of minor children. “There is this misconception that wills are only for rich, old people, but that is not the case,” said Dixon.

See Nicole Lyn Pesce, This Financial Document is a Matter of Life and Death — and Most of Us Don’t Have One, Moneyish, September 3, 2018.

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

 

September 6, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Like Prince, Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will. Why You Should Have One

IntestateThe tax and financial hassle of probate or intestacy can be huge, even for normal sized estates. When you add the extra zeros that go with a successful entertainer, the failures can seem much more agonizing. It is surprising the number of celebrities that had passed away in recent years without wills or with insufficient estate planning, including Prince, Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and most recently, Aretha Franklin. Due to deficient planning, each of these sizable estates were hit with legal or financial issues that could have been easily avoided.

Franklin had been ill, so writing a will would have been logical. But also a will allows assets to become public knowledge, and many people - not just celebrities - can be uncomfortable with this prospect. For very little money you can create a revocable trust that calls for the disposition of your assets in a manner in which you choose. You still write a will, but the will just says that everything you own goes via the revocable trust, and your assets remain out of the public eye.

See Robert W. Wood, Like Prince, Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will. Why You Should Have One, Forbes, August 23, 2018.

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

August 27, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Travel, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Tax Implications for Aretha Franklin's Estate

ArethaAfter the news of the passing of soul singer Aretha Franklin, headlines were soon dominated by the surprising realization that she did not leave any estate planning documentation. Her four sons filed in Oakland County Probate Court on Tuesday with the acknowledgement that their late mother had no will, and her niece, Sabrina Owens, asked to be appointed as the estimated $80 million estate’s personal representative. Under Michigan law, the assets of an unmarried person who dies without a will are divided equally among any children.

At this point it does not seem like the four sons have any conflicting views, though any family or any other conflict may appear later as extended relations or creditors materialize and seek a portion of her estate. Aretha Franklin's entertainment lawyer Don Wilson from Los Angeles commented, "I was after her for a number of years to do a trust. It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate, and kept things private."

The complete lack of any form of estate or wealth planning may strike her estate severely. The estate passes the exemption threshold for gift and estate tax under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and thus her heirs will likely owe a good chunk to Uncle Sam.

See David H. Lenok, Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will, Wealth Management, August 21, 2018; see also Brian McCollum and John Wisely, Aretha Franklin Left No Will or Trust, Court Records Show, Detroit Free Press, August 21, 2018.

Special thanks to Elizabeth R. Carter (A.N. Yiannopoulos Professor of Law, LSU) for bringing this article to my attention.

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

August 23, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Aretha Franklin Did Not Have a Will

Aretha3The late singer Aretha Franklin died last Thursday at her home in Detroit, Michigan. She is survived by her four sons, Clarence Franklin, 63, Edward Franklin, 61, Ted White Jr, 54, and Kecalf Cunningham, 48, as well as four grandchildren. The diva also passed away intestate, according to court documents, which means that the singer's estimated $80 million fortune will be split evening among her children in accordance with Michigan intestate law.

In light of Aretha Franklin's wealth and her family's circumstances, the fact that she died without a will is surprising. Her oldest son, Clarence, is special needs and will require specialized support for the rest of his life, and there were no guidelines to stipulate how this will be accomplished.

See Aretha Franklin had no Will: Singer Did Not Outline Plans for Her $80 million Estate Before Her Tragic Death, Daily Mail, August 21, 2018; see also Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will, TMZ, August 21, 2018.

Special thanks to Molly Neace for bringing this article to my attention.

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

August 22, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin Dies at 76

Aretha2Aretha Franklin, the famed American singer known as the 'Queen of Soul,' has died at the age of 76 in her home in Detroit, Michigan. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer according to her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn.

Ms. Franklin had unrivaled musical career, with 17 Top 10 pop singles and 20 No. 1 R&B hits, as well as 18 Grammy wins. She was awarded the lifetime achievement award 1994 and was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She sang at President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009 as well as at both the Democratic National Convention and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral in 1968. She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2005, the nation's highest civilian award.

Aretha Franklin is survived by her four sons, Clarence, Eddie, and KeCalf Franklin and Ted White, Jr., as well as grandchildren.

See Jon Pareles, Aretha Franklin, 'Queen of Soul,' Dies at 76, New York Times, August 16, 2018.

 

August 16, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Source says Queen of Soul is in Hospice Care

ArethaA source close to 76-year-old singer Aretha Franklin states that she as entered hospice care. In February of 2017, Franklin announced that she would stop touring, but she continued to book concerts. Earlier this year, she canceled a pair of performances, including at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, on doctor's orders. She has been very private about her health, with Showbiz 411's Roger Friedman told CNN: "She has a great family, she's surrounded by love, and the world is sending prayers. All further announcements will be made by her family. We just want to send love and prayers."

Aretha Franklin spouts an impressive 6-decade career, starting out as a gospel singer in Detroit at the church where her father was the minister By 1968 she was topping the charts with songs such as "Respect," "Chain of Fools" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987 -- a year before the Beatles were inducted. She also has 44 Grammy nominations and 18 wins.

See Joe Marcelle, Source: Aretha Franklin is in Hospice, CNN, August 14, 2018.

 

August 15, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Vinnie Paul Leaves Most of his Estate to his Best Friend and his Longtime Girlfriend

VinnieVinnie Paul, the drummer of the rock band Pantera, passed away on June 22, 2018 and his public memorial was held on July 1 in Dallas, Texas. Several famous musicians attended his funeral, representing several bands including KISS, Nickelback, Anthrax, and Disturbed. Recently, though, his will has become public.

The drummer's will states that his estate will be divided, with his longtime girlfriend Chelsey Yeager receiving 37% of the proceeds and his best friend Charles Jones is to get 38%. The other quarter of the estate will be divided among his tour manager, drum tech, producer, and a separate friend. Vinnie's interest in his late brother Dimebag Darrell's estate will tranfer to Darrell's girlfriend, Rita Haney.

See Vinnie Paul Leaves Most of his Estate to his Best Friend and his Longtime Girlfriend, Blabbermouth, July 31, 2018.

Special thanks to Jay Brinker (Cincinnati Estate Planning Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 2, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Two Men Claiming to be Charles Manson's Sons Eliminated From Fight Over Estate

MansonTwo men that publicly claimed to be the offspring of late infamous mass-murderer Charles Manson have been eliminated from the battle of the Manson estate by a Los Angeles judge due to lack of proof. One man asserted that he was the product of an orgy that Manson was a party to and later given up for adoption, while the other man's mother was a member of the Manson Family.

The fight over Charles Manson's memorabilia, image, and publishing rights is now between two men left standing: Michael Channels, a memorabilia collector and pen pal who claims Manson named him as the sole beneficiary of all his rights and possessions in 2017 and Jason Freeman, a legitimate and acknowledged grandson of the cult leader whose father, Charles Manson Jr., killed himself in 1993.

There is no estimate on the current value of Charles Manson's estate. Manson's body is also being fought over as it lays unclaimed in a Los Angeles morgue under a false name.

See Jennifer Smith, Purported Sons of Charles Manson Fight Estate, Daily Mail, July 13, 2018.

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

July 15, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Article on Where There's a Will, There's a Way: The US Will Registry Offers a Technology Solution to the Lost Will Problem

PrinceStacey Jerome-Miller recently published an Article entitled, Where There's a Will, There's a Way: The US Will Registry Offers a Technology Solution to the Lost Will Problem, Probate & Property Magazine, Vol. 32, No. 4, July/August 2018. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The death of the musical artist Prince shocked the country, but what was more shocking was the news that, although his estate is worth approximately $300 million, no will declaring the distribution of his assets can be found.

One can only guess why Prince did not leave a will. Was a will outside the scope of his religious beliefs? Did his attorneys advise him to plan for the event of his death, and he simply ignored their advice? Maybe he had not gotten around to estate planning, or perhaps he drafted a will but neglected to tell his family its location. It seems incredible to believe that such a large estate could be left unprotected. Whatever the reasoning, one cannot help but wonder what will happen to Prince's millions now. The Petition for Formal Appointment of Special Administrator, filed by Prince's sister Tyka Nelson, in the Carver County District Court on April 26, 2016, states, "I do not know of the existence of a will and have no reason to believe that the decedent executed testamentary documents in any form." A large part of Prince's estate will be needlessly wasted on legal fees, and Prince's family will be tied up in court trying to sort it ,all out. In fact, as of May 14, 2018, over 1,900 documents have been filed in the case.

July 14, 2018 in Articles, Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)