Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ray Charles' Foundation Sues Seven of Charles' Children

Ray charelsThe Ray Charles Foundation, a foundation created by Ray Charles himself, has sued seven of the deceased singer’s twelve children for allegedly violating a deal with Charles to not claim any rights to his estate. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, involves fifty-one songs written and co-written by Charles, including “I Got a Woman,” “A Fool For You,” “Mary Ann,” and “What’d I Say.”

According to court documents, Charles created a $500,000 trust for each of his twelve children, and in exchange for the trusts, in his children “relinquished and waived any further claims to their father’s estate.” The Foundation has accused the children of sending music publishers copyright termination notices, claiming the children own the songs that the foundation claims it owns. The suit alleges that the “improper” claims made by the children have “created an enormous cloud” over the ownership of the songs that have caused an “extreme likelihood that the value of these copyright assets will be permanently damaged.”  

The foundation has asked for $500,000 in damages from each of the seven children named in the suit and an order preventing the children from claiming any rights to the music in the future. The children have hired Marc Toberoff, the attorney representing the estate of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel in its copyright suit with Warner Bros., to represent them.

See Alan Duke, Ray Charles’ Foundation Sues His Children, CNN, Apr. 1, 2012.

Special thanks to Josh Hurtuk (J.D. Candidate, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law) for bringing this article to my attention. 


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