Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tupac's Tyson Ticket Goes Up for Auction

Tupac ticketTupac Shakur’s ticket stub from the Mike Tyson fight on the night he was killed could now be yours. On September 7, 1996, Tupac attended the Tyson–Bruce Seldon fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. After a first round knockout by Tyson, Tupac left and handed his ticket stub to a man, telling him to enjoy it. The ticket stub was later purchased by a man who verified it was the late rapper’s. Now, the man is looking to sell one of the last items ever touched by Tupac. Goldin Auctions thinks the ticket will fetch at least $25,000.  

See Tupac: Tyson Ticket from Night of Shooting Goes Up for Auction, TMZ, January 14, 2017. 


January 16, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Legal Battle Ensues over Prince's Music

Prince tidalSeveral unanswered questions still remain as to the management and distribution of Prince’s estate since his death in April 2016. Specifically, much is still unknown about the status of his valuable music catalog. Jay-Z’s companies, Tidal and Roc Nation, are in a legal battle with Bremer Trust, the administrator of Prince’s estate, over the late singer’s intellectual property, which includes a vault of unreleased music. Bremer Trust filed a copyright infringement suit, alleging that Tidal only had exclusive rights to stream Prince’s new music for ninety days but instead streamed all fifteen Prince albums. The defendant companies claim they had an oral and written agreement with Prince to exclusively stream his music, while Prince’s label NPG Records claims they terminated any agreement made before his death. Currently, representatives for the singer’s estate are nearing a deal to stream his music on Apple Music and Spotify. However, with Prince’s highly critical perspective of the music industry, it would come as no surprise that Prince struck a deal with Tidal because they have a reputation of being substantially more artist-friendly.  

See Michael Feispor, Jay-Z’s Tidal, Roc Nation and Bremer Trust Battle over Prince’s Music, Forbes, January 11, 2017. 

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


January 13, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Prince's Estate Submits Asset Inventory

Prince5An inventory of Prince’s estate has recently been submitted to probate court, evincing that he acquired millions of dollars’ worth of real estate and other personal property before his death. Bremer Trust, the company overseeing his estate, listed several properties in Carver and Hennepin counties worth an estimated $25.4 million. Additionally, the inventory lists approximately $110,000 in bank accounts and $840,000 in gold bars. Prince’s companies—Paisley Park Enterprises Inc., NPG Records Inc., NPG Music Publishing, and LotusFlow3r—had more than $6 million in cash on hand. However, the late singer’s musical instruments, jewelry, household furnishings, car, custom motorcycles, trademarks, and copyrights have not been assigned a value. 

See Asset Inventory of Prince’s Estate Lists Cash, Property, Gold Bars, Fox News, January 8, 2017. 


January 9, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Prince's Trust Sells Four of His Properties

Paisley park2The trust controlling Prince’s estate has sold four of his properties—one house and three plots of land. All four properties are located in his hometown of Chanhassen, Minnesota, where they have a combined value of $1.34 million. Two of his properties, Paisley Park and his Turks and Caicos home, are not currently for sale. While these properties are in the final stages of sale, potential heirs are still waiting on the judge to decide who will inherit the late singer’s $300 million estate.  

See Jennifer Smith, Four of Prince’s Houses Are Sold as His Relatives Continue to Fight Over Who Will Inherit His $300m Estate, Daily Mail, December 30, 2016. 


December 30, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Learn from These Celebrities' Estate-Planning Mistakes

Celebrity deathsAverage Americans make estate-planning mistakes all the time, but when a celebrity makes them, we are sure to hear about it, and each story can leave us with some estate-planning wisdom. The biggest lesson of 2016 is one that we can all learn from Prince—you must have an estate plan! The singer died without his own estate plan, which gave large sums of money to attorneys, banks, and the government. Further, it is important to update your estate plan to account for your beneficiaries’ life situation. Whitney Houston never updated her estate plan after her daughter was born, which left her daughter with large sums of money at an early age, and she died shortly after. Another lesson for your estate plan is that when you create a trust, you must retitle the assets in the name of the trust. Michael Jackson’s estate dealt with this issue for many years because he did not properly “fund” his trust. Also, you must plan for the possibility of new heirs in your estate plan. Heath Ledger had an estate plan, but after his sudden death, all of his fortune went to his parents and sister, not his daughter. Finally, you must keep your estate plan in a safe place and communicate to your family where that is. Florence Joyner had a will but never told anyone where it was located, so her family spent the next four years in litigation before coming to a settlement. These are just some of the many estate-planning lessons we can learn from celebrities. 

See Matthew Talbot, Avoid These Celebrity Mistakes with Your Estate Plan, Lamorinda Weekly, December 28, 2016. 

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


December 29, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Intestate Succession, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

George Michael's Song Streams Skyrocket After Death

George michaelGeorge Michael’s music has been on repeat for some solace fans after his death. His solo music streams have skyrocketed by 3,158%. The top five songs that have been streamed since his death announcement are “Last Christmas,” “Careless Whisper,” “Faith,” “Freedom! ’90,” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Spotify, the music provider, compared numbers from days before and the day after Michael’s death. 

See George Michael Song Plays Explode After Death, TMZ, December 26, 2016. 


December 27, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

George Michael's Godchildren Set to Inherit Millions

George michael2George Michael’s godchildren are expected to receive substantial inheritances from the late singer’s will. Michael was a godparent to several of his celebrity friend’s children, who could now walk away with part of his $120 million estate. He made his fortune from his singing career and royalties, investing a portion of it into properties and art. In addition, Michael was a long-term supporter of many charities, including Childline and Macmillan Cancer Support, which could see future bequests from the megastar. His two older sisters, his boyfriend, and his cousin’s two children are also expected to be named in his will. 

See Richard Spillett & Alex Matthews, George Michael’s £100m Fortune ‘Will Go to His Godchildren’: Offspring of His Celebrity Friends Could Inherit Tens of Millions EACH After Star Died Without Heirs, Daily Mail, December 27, 2016. 

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


December 27, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Prince's Divorce Lawyer Makes Claim Against His Estate for Legal Bill

Prince divorce lawyersPrince’s divorce lawyer is claiming that the late pop icon never paid is $600,000 tab. Cousins Law Firm in West Palm Beach filed a claim against Prince’s estate demanding payment of the bill. A lawyer from the firm says Prince racked up the legal bill in 2006 with his divorce from his second wife, Manuela Testolini. The lawyer further claims that him and Prince had an agreement that the singer would not have to pay the bill until all loose ends were tied up. Everything was allegedly wrapped up on April 1 of this year; Prince died on April 21. 

See Prince Died Without Paying Divorce Lawyer, TMZ, December 20, 2016. 


December 20, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Forbes Top-Earning Dead Celebrities of 2016

Michael jackson3While an unusual amount of celebrities have passed away this year, Michael Jackson tops Forbes list of top-earning dead celebrities in 2016 with the March sale of his half of Sony/ATV music publishing catalog for $750 million. Jackson’s pretax payday of $825 million is more money than any celebrity dead or alive made in 2016. In total, the sale gave Jackson’s estate a 30% annualized return on his investment. Coming in the number two spot is Peanuts creator Charles Schulz with $48 million. Schulz died sixteen years ago but still lives on through his franchise. Rounding out the top three is Arnold Palmer with $40 million. 

See Zack O’Malley Greenburg, The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities of 2016, Forbes, October 12, 2016.

December 3, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Prince's Estate Estimate Made Public

Prince estat estimateA new court filing estimates Prince’s estate to be worth approximately $200 million. This is the first time a specific estimate has been brought to the public. Prince’s six siblings are in line to inherit equal shares of his estate after taxes. Bremer Trust originally estimated the estate to be in ballpark of $100–$200 million after placing values on his catalogue, unreleased music, Paisley Park mansion, and other valuable assets. Bremer Trust also put out a memo noting the company’s fee at $90,000 per month, using a fee schedule based on the value of an estate. It is possible that the company is slightly devaluing the estate due to the looming tax bill. Ultimately, the final total of the estate will not be revealed until after more appraisals and taxing authorities value the estate’s worth.

See Prince’s Estate Is Worth at Least $200 Million, Court Filing Shows, Thanks to His Extensive Catalogue, Unreleased Music and Paisley Park Mansion, Daily Mail, December 1, 2016.

December 1, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)