Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, May 31, 2019

Don’t Do Me Like That: Tom Petty’s Widow, Daughter In Court Over Control Of His Estate

PettyTom Petty died in 2017 just one week after finishing off a concert tour. Since then, the tensions between his widow and his two daughters from a previous marriage have continued to build steam. His trust named his widow, Dana York Petty, as the sole trust but other instructions within the document has caused some confusion.

Earlier this month, Adria and Annakim filed a civil suit on behalf of Petty Unlimited LLC in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that Dana was attempting to divert business opportunities from Petty Unlimited but creating a separate entity called Tom Petty Legacy LLC. The older daughter has also petitioned for control over her father's music catalog and legacy. Dana argues that as the trust's sole trustee, she has the broad discretion to create a limited liability company to handle Petty's music-related assets. The trust leaves the details of running the company to Dana, but that his daughters be included "equally" in its management. Hence the confusion and tensions.

Tom Petty's death was unexpected, but he was far more prepared for the end of his life than other celebrities of late. The current dispute between Petty's widow and his two daughters essentially comes down to intent and interpretation of Petty's wishes, and what he intended the word "equal" to mean. Did he mean each party is equal and has 1/3 control, or the widow has half and the daughter have half together, thus being two equal sides of the coin? A hearing is scheduled in June, so we may learn soon enough.

See Cozen O'Connor, Don’t Do Me Like That: Tom Petty’s Widow, Daughter In Court Over Control Of His Estate, Lexology, May 22, 2019.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


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