Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

More Relatives Making Claims On Prince’s Estate

Prince3I have previously discussed the ongoing issues surrounding the estate of legendary musician Prince who passed away intestate.  Now there are more people coming forward claiming to be descended from Prince’s half-brother Duane Nelson.  “The two new potential heirs both said they were descended from Prince's older half-brother Duane Nelson, who died in 2011, and was once head of security for the singer.”  There is another person who is claiming that she had a child with Duane Nelson.  “Another woman, Jeannine Halloran, said that she had an 11-year-old daughter with the late Duane Nelson Jr.”  The mother and daughter are willing to undergo DNA testing to try to prove their claims, and both claimers also filed their birth certificates with the probate court. 

See Tom Wyke, Two more ‘relatives’ stake their claim to a share of Prince’s fortune: Family of singer’s late half-brother say birth certificate proves they are rightful heirs, Daily Mail, May 19, 2016.

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

May 19, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)

Ongoing Discovery Dispute In “Stairway To Heaven” Lawsuit

Led zeppelinI have previously discussed the ongoing copyright dispute between Led Zeppelin and the estate of Randy Wolfe, who was a guitarist for the group Spirit.  The lawsuit alleges that the hit song ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was plagiarized from Taurus which was a 1967 instrumental by Spirit.  “With a jury trial scheduled to begin in just over a month, Led Zeppelin, their music publisher and record label continue to feud with the estate of a founding member of the rock band Spirit over the allowance of expert depositions in a copyright infringement case surrounding the song ‘Stairway to Heaven.’” These developments show why it is important for musicians and creative artists should protect themselves by speaking with an experienced intellectual property and entertainment lawyer. 

See Discovery Dispute Lingers in “Stairway to Heaven” Copyright Infringement Case, Klein Moynihan Turco LLP, May 12, 2016.

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Minnesota Legislature Considering PRINCE Act

Prince 5Less than three weeks after the state’s most famous musician passed away Minnesota legislatures are rushing to pass legislation that will protect Prince’s name, voice, and likeness.  “A law firm working for court-appointed Prince estate administrator Bremer Trust reported on Monday that although courts have suggested Minnesota limits use of people's name and likeness, it is not embedded in state law.”  The death of Prince has spurred action on this legislation, but the bill will apply to other Minnesotans, alive or dead.  “The legislation is called Personal Rights In Names Can Endure Act, or PRINCE Act.”  There are currently seventeen states that have a similar right of publicity which extends after death.  Lawmakers in Minnesota would like to pass this legislation to protect the legacy of a musician who was very important to the State. 

See Don Davis, PRINCE Act appears in Minn. Legislature, ABC, May 10, 2016.

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

May 10, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | 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)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Alan Freed’s Ashes Find New Home In Cleveland

Alan freedThe ashes of rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Alan Freed are going to find a new resting place in the city of Cleveland where he first coined the term “rock ‘n’ roll.”  There was also a monument that was unveiled at the Lake View Cemetery on Saturday to commemorate the musician’s life.  “Freed, while a DJ in Cleveland during the early 1950s, took his initial steps to synthesize a new musical form that blended jazz, blues, pop, rhythm and blues and country music into what's known today as rock 'n' roll.”  He passed away in 1965 at the age of 43 because of liver failure.  This article describes some of the history of the music legend as well as the reasons for why his ashes are being moved.

See Rock ‘n’ Roll pioneer’s ashes find new home, Fox News, May 8, 2016.

May 8, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Prince’s Estate Will Use Blood Sample To Fight Paternity Claim

Prince3I have previously discussed the ongoing issues surrounding the estate of the late iconic musician Prince.  Recently the Prince estate has announced that it is ready to use a sample of Prince’s blood to battle any paternity claims against the royal bloodline.  “A Minnesota judge signed off Friday on a request from the Rock Hall of Famer’s reps to analyze a sample of Prince’s blood in case of future ‘parentage issues.’”  The blood sample will be delivered to a DNA Diagnostics center for genetic testing just in case anyone comes forward claiming to be Prince’s child.  There will likely be a long drawn out estate fight because Prince passed away without a will.  These legal developments are probably going to be ongoing because of the large size of the estate. 

See Larry McShane, Prince’s estate to fight paternity claims with late rock icon’s blood sample, Daily News, May 6, 2016.

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

May 7, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Managing Pop Culture Estates

CobainThis article discusses the business of managing the estates of pop culture icons.  “Few people understand that better than Jeffrey Jampol, an LA-based specialist whose JAM Inc manages the rock estates of Otis Redding, Kurt Cobain, the Doors, Rick James, Ramones and Muddy Waters among others, as well as advising the co-executors of Michael Jackson’s estate.”  There is a lot of difficult work that goes into the process of trying to prevent or reduce the type of legal chaos that often unfolds in the probate process after a wealthy celebrity passes away.  Oftentimes the estates of famous celebrities keep earning income long after they pass away from things like trademarks, royalties, and brands.  The rock legacy business that is described in this article is only going to continue to grow in the future. 

See Edward Helmore, ‘This is the pop culture legacy business’: JAM Inc manages artists after death, The Guardian, May 6, 2016.

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

May 6, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)