Thursday, October 12, 2017
The Wrong Estate Executor Can Make Family Drama Worse, As Jerry Garcia’s Heirs Discovered
Jerry Garcia, legendary member of the Grateful Dead, passed away in 1995 at the age of 53. His personal life may be politely described as hectic, as it oversaw the entrance three wives, four daughters, and a stepdaughter. This wide range of personal interests held by Garcia’s beneficiaries was initially problematic for his estate’s administration and further exacerbated by the assignment of Debra Koons, his third wife, as executrix of the estate. While Koons could have been even-handed in her administration, banning Garcia’s first two wives from his funeral was a clear indication that difficult times were ahead.
While Garcia’s will was never challenged, beneficiaries objected to a number of decision made by Koons and the attorney appointed as co-executor; years of legal struggles ensued. While family executors can work well for small, simple estates, it may be better to seek out corporate executors for larger and more complicated estates. These generally unbiased third-party executors tend to be financially savvy and are better able to handle the administration of convoluted estates.
See Russell J. Fishkind, The Wrong Estate Executor Can Make Family Drama Worse, As Jerry Garcia’s Heirs Discovered, Saul, Ewing, Arnstein, & Lehr, October 5, 2017.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.) for bringing this article to my attention.