Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Special Administrator Appointed On Prince’s Estate

PrinceBremer Trust was appointed by District Judge Kevin Eide to oversee the Prince estate, and none of the apparent heirs objected to the appointment.  “One by one, five of Prince’s six surviving siblings entered a Carver County courtroom Monday to register their claim to the late music legend’s estimated $100 million-plus estate and set up a special administrator to ensure that it’s handled properly.”  As of Monday morning no will has been found, and the search for Prince’s will is ongoing.  Prince leaves behind a massive estate that is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  The fact that there does not appear to be a will creates many problems because the large estate will have to be distributed in accordance with Minnesota intestacy laws.  This could lead to legal battles between beneficiaries who will likely end up disagreeing over the property distributions.

See Emma Nelson and Dan Browning, Judge confirms appointment of special administrator on Prince’s estate, Star Tribune, May 3, 2016.

May 3, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Why The Government Will Get Over Half Of Prince’s Estate

Prince2As I have previously mentioned the late legendary Prince passed away without a will.  This article discusses how over half of his estate may likely go to the government.  “Both the federal government and Minnesota’s state government will assess so-called “death taxes” or estate taxes on Prince’s assets, taking away more than half his estate.”  With more estate planning Prince might have been able to take steps to reduce the amount of taxes that would have been taken from his estate.  As this article mentions, he leaves behind a massive estate that could be worth anywhere between $300 and $500 million.  Because there was no will the Prince estate will be distributed in accordance with Minnesota intestacy laws.

See Rachel Grezler, Why Over Half of Prince’s Estate Will Go to the Government, The Daily Signal, April 29, 2016.

April 30, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Judge Rules Out Evidence In Led Zeppelin Copyright Case

Led zeppelinMembers of a Jury that will be deciding on a copyright claim against Led Zeppelin will be barred from hearing details about band member’s pasts.  “U.S. District Judge Robert Gary Klausner, who is presiding over a trial which will decide whether the rock group’s hit Stairway To Heaven was plagiarized from Taurus, a 1967 instrumental by the band Spirit, ruled certain evidence about the rock group’s past could not be heard in court.”  The Jury members will not be able to hear testimony that relates to allegations of past drug use by the band members as well as accusations of plagiarism.  “The ongoing lawsuit against the rock legends was brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Randy Wolfe, also known as Randy California, who was Spirit’s guitarist and the composer of Taurus.”

See Judge In Ledd Zeppelin Copyright Case Rules Out Evidence, WENN, April 27, 2016.

April 27, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prince’s Sister Files Emergency Motion For Appointment Of Special Administrator

Tyka nelsonI have previously discussed the fact that Prince passed away without a will and that his estate will pass via Minnesota intestacy laws.  Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson recently filed an emergency motion in the Carver County District Court to appoint special administrator to gather and protect the legendary musician’s assets.  Lawyers and intellectual property and estate planning experts predict that it will take years to determine the value of Prince’s massive estate.  Prince’s estate includes physical assets like land and equipment, and it also includes the intellectual property he owned from his lyrics and songs as well as trademarks that relate to his image and brand.  These assets could be worth up to $100 million dollars and could pay out for many years to come.  The full text of the petition filed by Tyka Nelson in the Carver County District Court can be read here

See Dan Browning,Without a will, it could take years to estimate Prince’s estate, Star Tribune, April 27, 2016.

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

April 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Who Will Inherit From Prince’s Estate?

PrinceThe music world has recently been shocked over the tragic passing of Prince.  It is currently not clear if the musician had a will.  There is a lot of speculation over how his estate will be divided.  Prince did not have any children and both his parents had previously passed away.  If Prince did not have a will then his estate might have to be divided in accordance with Minnesota intestacy laws.  “Minnesota law states that his estate would go to his sister and his half-siblings, according to estate planner Danielle Mayoras, author of "Trial and Heirs," a book about highly publicized battles over celebrities' fortunes.”  The estate is probably going to be very large and there will be years of income generated from the royalties off the music that he has produced.

See David Goldman, Who gets Prince’s millions?, CNN, April 25, 2016.

April 26, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Legendary Musician Prince Has Passed Away

PrinceLegendary singer Prince has passed away today at the age of 57.  The Musician was found at his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota.  “As of right now, details are scarce, but police reportedly responded to an emergency around 9:30 a.m TMZ is reporting that Prince's body was found earlier this morning at his residence.”  Prince has made important contributions to music with such hits as “1999, Purple Rain, Sign o' the Times, and many more.”  People all over the world will be mourning the loss of this great music legend.  It is not yet clear what will happen to Prince’s estate when the probate process gets started.  There will likely be more development within the coming weeks and issues surrounding the estate will probably come up. 

See Zach Frydenlund, Prince Has Passed Away at the Age of 57, Complex Media, April 21, 2016.

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

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Michael Jackson Estate In Battle Over Legal Fees

JacksonI have previously discussed some of the ongoing issues surrounding the estate of Michael Jackson. A law firm in the U.K. has recently claimed that the Michael Jackson’s estate owes it about $200,000 for work it did for the pop king between 2007-2009. “Atkins Thomson Solicitors is suing prominent entertainment attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain, executors of Jackson's estate, for breach of contract in a state claim filed Monday in California.” The firm claims that it provided Michael Jackson with hundreds of hours of legal work and services. The estate plans on contesting the suit arguing that the firm’s claims are not valid.

See Ashley Cullins, Michael Jackson Estate Sued Over Legal Fees, The Hollywood Reporter, March 23, 2016.

March 23, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dispute Over Elvis Guitar Moves Forward

Martin-guitarA Federal Judge has recently ruled that a dispute over the ownership of a guitar that once belonged to Elvis Presley will proceed.  “The controversy revolves around a Martin D-55 guitar that Elvis broke at a show in St. Petersburg, Fla. on February 14, 1977.” This article provides some background details about the ongoing legal dispute. One of the reasons why the guitar is valuable is because the self-proclaimed “King of Rock and Roll” used the guitar on his last tour. Elvis Presley passed away at his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, on August 16, 1977. Millions of people have been influenced by his music and his home attracts a large number of tourists. Valuable pieces of memorabilia like this guitar can be an important part of an estate plan.

See Lacey Louwagie, Dispute Over Ownership Of Elvis Guitar to Proceed, Courthouse News Service, March 16, 2016.

March 17, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Massive Private Collection Sold By Bob Dylan

Bob dylanA massive collection of artifacts have recently been sold by Bob Dylan for about $15 million. Bob Dylan sold this treasure trove of 6,000 artifacts that were in his private collection to the “George Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Tulsa.” Most of the musician’s collection will be stored at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa and access will largely be limited to scholars and Bob Dylan experts. This collection is estimated to be worth about $60 million, and Dylan will likely be able to claim part of the sale as a charitable donation for tax purposes because he only sold it for about a third of its price. This article provides some insight into the agreement that was made to sell the artifacts. It also discusses some of the items that are included in the valuable collection.

See Andy Greene, Bob Dylan Sells 6,000-Item Private Collection for $15 Million, Rolling Stone, March 2, 2016.

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

March 2, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | 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)