Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

Judge Rules No Media Allowed in Prince's Upcoming Probate Hearing

Prince19The judge overseeing Prince’s estate case will not allow media company attorneys to intervene in the upcoming hearing. He denied the media’s request for the Monday probate hearing to determine inheritance rights but left open the possibility for later access. With suspenseful paternity questions waiting to be addressed, several documents were filed under seal. The balance between the public’s right to access and confidentiality presents several legal questions for the rest of the battle over Prince’s $300 million estate.

See Prince Estate Judge: No Cameras at Monday Hearing, USA Today, June 25, 2016.

June 27, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Inmate Will Not Share in Prince's $300 Million Estate

Prince33The judge overseeing Prince’s estate is not allowing cameras in an upcoming hearing to determine possible heir claims. According to the law, the media and public may also be banned from the hearing if the court pursues specific paternity matters. We now know, however, that Carlin Williams, an inmate serving eight years for unlawful transportation of a firearm, is not a potential heir after a DNA test came back with a 0% chance of relation. The prisoner will not share in any of Prince’s $300 million estate as paternity questions continue to arise. 

See Prince Is Not the Father of Man Serving Time in Prison According to DNA Results that Bar the Convicted Felon from Inheriting Any Part of $300 Million Estate, Daily Mail, June 22, 2016.

June 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Michael Jackson's Estate Attempts to Shut Down Media Buzz on Recently Released Police Reports

Michael jacksonMichael Jackson’s estate attempted to shut down the media buzz surrounding a 2003 police report that was released detailing the singer’s pornography collection. The estate worries that this hype is undermining the upcoming anniversary of Jackson’s death. Photos of the investigation into child sexual assault were also released but quickly taken down. The police records, however, reveal Jackson’s alleged pornography collection; however, these records seem to be mixed with misguided information from the Internet.

See Michael Jackson’s Estate Fights Back at Report Detailing Singer’s Creepy Porn Stash, Fox News, June 22, 2016.

June 23, 2016 in Current Events, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Academy Looks to Stop the Sale of Whitney Houston's Emmy Award

Whitney houston emmyEmmy executives are trying to block the sale of Whitney Houston’s 1986 Emmy award, claiming that all winners sign an agreement that requires heirs to release the award back to the Academy in memory of the recipient. Whitney’s estate is trying to sell the award through Heritage Auctions, who has demanded proof of Whitney’s signature on that agreement. Heritage expects to sell the award for upwards of $10,000.

See Whitney Houston Emmy Battle Heading for Court, TMZ, June 22, 2016.

June 22, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Will a Significant Tax Bill Take Half of Prince's Estate?

Prince4The trustee for Prince’s estate has revealed that a sizeable tax bill could wind up taking half of his estimated $250 million estate, which could potentially force an early sale of his unreleased music. In order to meet a fee deadline for the tax bill, many of Prince’s non-cash assets will have to be sold. Representations for all parties are working to avoid an inevitable fire sale if the deadline is not met.

See Lindsay Kimble, Taxes Could Wipe Out Half of Prince’s $250 Million Estate and Force Early Sale of His Unreleased Songs, Trustee Says, People, June 8, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hartnett (The Hartnett Law Firm) for bringing this Article to my attention.

June 16, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Phil Taylor Leaves Nothing to Secret Wife

Phil taylorMotorhead drummer Phil Taylor left nothing in his will to his secret wife. He mentioned her in the will but maintained that they had no contact, starting a short time after their marriage. Shortly before his death, Taylor tried to track her down to finalize a divorce but was unable to find her. He was, however, granted the divorce two weeks before he died, and the will left a bulk of his estate to his sisters.

See Motorhead Drummer Phil Taylor Snubs His ‘Lost’ Wife in His £1 Million Will, Daily Mail, June 11, 2016.

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

June 13, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Learn from Prince: How Estate Planning Will Benefit You

Prince3Prince had a reputation of being hands on with his legal affairs, but why did he not execute a will? Learning from Prince’s misfortune will allow people to understand the benefits planning for your estate provides.

When you die without a will, your assets will pass through intestate succession, which can become complicated and expensive. Further, if you die intestate, your assets become public, which can be burdensome for celebrities, like Prince. Dying intestate does not allow you to allocate your assets in the best way you feel fit, making it important to plan ahead for your estate. Without a well-executed estate plan, you may just end up like Prince with numerous people fighting over your estate.

See Winnie Sun, 5 Things Prince’s Family, and You, Should Know About Estate Planning, Forbes, May 18, 2016.

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

June 11, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What Can Prince's Death Teach Us?

Prince2Perhaps more shocking than Prince’s death, is the absence of a will to dispose of his estate. It is always assumed that will formalities serve one main function—advancing testator wishes and intent. Four secondary functions are also served by wills—evidentiary, ritual, protective, and channeling. Another secondary function, however, allows the testator to advance their wishes—witness requirement or the “preservative” function. These witnesses will most likely assure that fewer wills just disappear when time to dispose of the estate.

See Frederick Vars, What Prince’s Death Can Teach Us About Wills and Estates, AL.com, June 8, 2016.

June 9, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Poem on Prince's Sister Protecting His Estate

PrinceFredrick E. Vars, Univ. of Alabama Sch. of Law, recently wrote a poem entitled, Prince’s Siblings: Thieves in the Temple?, (2016). Provided below is the poem:


There once was a popstar named Prince.

He died and we’ve looked ever since

For a will to instruct us how

To divide this massive cash cow.


People looked high, people looked low.

Was there a will? Answer still no.

His sister rushed into the breach

And sought immediate relief.


She asked not for power or money,

But for a familiar trustee

To protect the diamonds and pearls

Until the true facts are unfurled.


So tabloids let’s NOT go crazy

As journalism, that’s lazy.

Go search for lost kids if you must

Or better a will under dust.

June 9, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 6, 2016

B.B. King's Children Battle Over His Estate

BB-KingEven after two marriages resulting in no children, B.B. King claimed fifteen children by fifteen women, eleven of which are still alive and fighting with King’s appointed trustee over his estate. The children point to a 2007 will and trust that grants them ample allowances. His longtime business manager trustee claims she is following a 2014 trust, naming the children but not providing for them specifically. A lawsuit with such differences has potential to carry on for years to come.

The Article details several lawsuits and family fights over King’s estate as it proceeds to be distributed. Perhaps, it was King’s broad concept of family that has his heirs battling with such tenacity over his estate.

See Scott Johnson, B.B. King’s Estate War: 15 Kids, 15 Moms and a “Totally Haywire” Fight, Hollywood Reporter, May 26, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hartnett (Hartnett Law Firm) for bringing this Article to my attention.  

June 6, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)