Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Group Claims To Own Share Of Michael Jackson’s Estate

JacksonA group of business people are claiming to have an ownership interest in a portion of Michael Jackson’s estate. A co-executor of the Jackson estate testified that “he thought it was strange that the group claiming to own part of the Michael Jackson Co. did not come forward until three years after his death.” The group claims that in accordance with a 3:00 a.m. deal that they made with Michael Jackson in Tokyo on June 1, 2006, that they should be entitled to 15 percent of the company. The Jackson estate is asking the Court to name them the sole owner of the entity in dispute. “Jackson died on June 25, 2009, at age 50 of a drug overdose while in Los Angeles preparing for a series of comeback concerts in London.”

See Group says they own a percentage of Michael Jackson’s estate, KFI AM 640, February 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.

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

Monday, February 1, 2016

Disney Involved In Copyright Dispute Over ‘The Bare Necessities’

Jungle bookThe heirs of Terry Gilkyson, the composer of ‘The Bare Necessities’ which was featured in Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book,’ are claiming that Disney owes them unpaid royalties. They are seeking royalties from the DVD sales of the 2007 re-release of Disney’s animation of Rudyard Kipling’s novel. “Although the original 1967 agreement between Gilkyson and Disney did not refer explicitly to royalties made from VHS and DVD sales, the heirs argue that the “mechanical reproductions” or recordings of the music were covered under the royalty agreement of the Gilkyson estate.” A three-judge Second Appellate District panel cited to Aryeh v. Canon Bus. Solutions Inc. which held “that the doctrine of continuous accrual applies to the years of unpaid royalty at issue” in this case. The amount of damages that the plaintiffs are seeking have not been specified.

See Katelen Walsh, Disney Fighting For “The Bare Necessities,” American University Intellectual Property Brief, January 30, 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 1, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

David Bowie’s Will Filed In Surrogate’s Court In Manhattan

David bowie 2On Friday David Bowie’s 20-page Will was filed in Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan. The Will directed that David Bowie’s body be cremated and scattered in Bali where he vacationed in the 1980’s with Iggy Pop. There was no breakdown of David Bowie’s holdings, but his estate is said to be worth about $100 million. “Mr. Bowie left his SoHo apartment — two penthouses that he bought for $4 million in 1999 and combined — to his widow, Iman Abdulmajid Jones.” He also left portions of his estate to his daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones and son from a previous marriage Duncan Jones. The rock legend’s business manager William Zysblat is the sole executor of his estate after London lawyer Paddy Grafton Green stepped aside.

See James Barron, David Bowie’s Will Splits Estate Said to be Worth $100 Million, The New York Times, January 29, 2016.

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

January 30, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Impact Social Media Has Had On Grieving Death

David bowieOnline social media has changed the way society grieves death. After the passing of musician David Bowie there were many tributes and outpourings of love and support on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Public digital expressions of grief have become an important part of the healing process in modern society. People’s online memory is becoming a more important aspect of their lives. Facebook has recognized these changing trends and is allowing users to designate a person to be a “legacy contact” who would have limited control over their account when they pass away. This will permit people to memorialize their Facebook profiles for loved ones. The rising importance of social media in everyday life is changing the ritual of mourning death.

See Michael Reilly, The Internet Has Changed How We Deal With Death, MIT Technology Review, January 21, 2016.

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

January 23, 2016 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Led Zeppelin Copyright Infringement Dispute Proceeds To Next Round

Stairway to heavenBack in May 2015 surviving members of Led Zeppelin filed a response to a lawsuit that claims that the song “Stairway to Heaven” was taken from an obscure Spirit song called “Fresh Garbage.” “In the paperwork, Page, Plant and Jones admit to having played a concert with Spirit, and to using part of the Spirit song “Fresh Garbage” in a medley they performed during some concerts in 1968 and 1969.” The person launching the lawsuit for copyright infringement is Michael Skidmore, who is a trustee of a trust for Spirit frontman Randy Craig Wolfe. Attorneys for the plaintiff have recently filed paperwork blasting Led Zeppelin for questioning the validity of the trust. “Led Zeppelin’s camp contends that the Wolfe trust is only valid if it is a qualified charitable foundation or other qualified entity, and claims that Skidmore’s legal team hasn’t provided evidence to that effect.”

See Led Zeppelin- “Stairway to Heaven” Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Moves To Next Round; Band Calls Late Spirit Frontman Randy Craig’s Trust Into Heaven, Brave Words, January 14, 2016.

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

January 15, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

David Bowie Was Cremated In New York City With No Friends Or Family Present

David bowieThere are reports that legendary musician David Bowie has been privately cremated in New York City with no friends or family present. The iconic British musician passed away on January 10, 2016 after an 18-month battle with cancer. According to an insider David Bowie just wanted to “disappear with no fuss, no big show, no fan-fare.” Reports show that Bowie did not want any lavish ceremony and just wanted to be remembered for his music. His producer Tony Visconti explained that Bowie’s final album Blackstar was meant to be his parting gift to fans. On February 16 there will be a tribute for David Bowie at the BRIT awards, and there will also be a memorial concert for him at New York’s Carnegie Hall on March 16.

See David Bowie cremated in secret without friends of family, Music News, January 14, 2016.

January 14, 2016 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Scott Weiland’s Ex-Wife Claims To Be Executor Of Deceased Singer’s Will

WeilandMary Forsberg, who is the ex-wife of deceased Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland, has recently asked a Los Angeles court to name her the executor of his will. The former spouse filed a will with his signature from 2007 naming her as the executor. The couple, who had two children, got divorced months after the will was singed. Scot Weiland later went on to marry photographer Jamie Watchel in 2013. The musician’s estate is currently worth about $2 million. It is not yet clear if Jamie Watchel will contest the will that Mary Forsberg has filed with the Los Angeles court. Scott Weiland passed away in December from an overdose of cocaine, MDMA, and alcohol at the age of 48.

See Anneta Konstantinides and Chris Spargo, Ex-wife of Scott Weiland claims she is the executor of his will despite Stone Temple Pilots singer remarrying two years ago, The Daily Mail, January 5, 2016.

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

January 6, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Elvis Presley Estate In Legal Battle With Sony Over Royalties

Elvis presleyThe estate of rock legend Elvis Presley is currently involved in a legal dispute with a subsidiary of Sony Music in Germany over foreign royalties. “This month, the 4-year-old legal battle spilled into a New York federal court as Elvis Presley Enterprises contends with Sony's corporate structure and intercompany licensing agreements and looks to obtain more documentation on how Presley's musical works have been exploited.” Elvis Presley had entered into a buyout agreement with RCA in 1974 which terminated all previous agreements between him and the record company. This column discusses some of the background details of this dispute and the current status of where things are heading.

See Eriq Gardner, Elvis Presley Estate Fighting Sony Over Royalties, The Hollywood Reporter, December 9, 2015.

December 10, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Michael Jackson’s Estate Involved In Fan Tribute Film Lawsuit

Michael jacksonThe father of deceased film producer Raju Patel is currently suing Michael Jackson’s estate alleging that he is being blocked from making a film about the late pop music legend. “According to the Hollywood Reporter, Sharad Chandra Patel claims that Jackson’s executors are denying him access to music rights and video footage of the star, despite a contract signed by Jackson.” The contract in question was allegedly drawn up in 2002 and stated that Raju and Jackson would split the profits from a proposed tribute film. There was also a 2005 contract stating that the two friends would make a film called Messages to Michael. A lawyer for the Michael Jackson estate has stated that the lawsuit is “yet another meritless lawsuit filed against the Jackson Estate”.

See Benjamin Lee, Michael Jackson estate sued for blocking fan tribute film, The Guardian, December 4, 2015.

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

December 4, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 9, 2015

John Lennon’s Guitar Sold At Auction For $2.4 Million

Lennon guitarA guitar that was beloved by legendary musician John Lennon has sold for $2.4 million at a recent auction.  John Lennon originally purchased the 1962 J-160E Gibson Acoustic guitar in Liverpool in September 1962 for 161 pounds.  He really loved that guitar and wrote songs on it with Paul McCartney that included “she loves you” and “all my loving.”  The guitar went missing in December 1963 during a Finsbury Park Christmas Show in London, and it was lost for over 50 years only recently resurfacing.  The U.S. auction house Julien’s Auctions claims that the $2.4 million sale shatters world records.  Another item that was sold at the auction was a 24-carat Gold Leaf Piano that was owned by Elvis Presley which sold for $600,000.

See Julien’s Auctions shatters world records; Lennon guitar sells for $2.4 million, Art Daily, November 9, 2015.

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

November 9, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)