Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Preparing for Heaven’s Door: Why Selling Song Catalogs Is Savvy Estate Planning for Bob Dylan, Neil Young and More

BobdylanAlmost 60 years ago, Bob Dylan enraged the folk music world—specifically, the purists—when he took a step into the rock scene with an electric guitar strapped over his shoulder.

Those same purists may have some words about Bob Dylan's decision to sell his "precious" song catalog to a multinational conglomerate for nearly $400 million. 

One might argue that selling one's music catalog is analogous to selling one's soul. However, when taking a closer look at the structure and purpose of such deals, it actually makes sense. 

As we get older, we often consider what we will leave behind and to whom we will leave it behind. Although most of us do not have music catalogs to consider, we do consider valuable things like property, vehicles, stocks, bonds, and other miscellaneous items. 

In the case of a famous musician, they have music royalties and other things to consider, as was the case for Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and others. 

Over the past few years, with music streaming market booming, musicians have a lot to consider regarding the rights to their music as the value of such assets has grown significantly. We saw a huge spike in the selling and purchasing of music catalogs during the pandemic when artists were not allowed to tour. 

Due to the evolving market, it makes sense why Bob Dylan decided to sell his catalog, master recordings, and his personal archive for nearly $650 million.

See Jem Aswad, Preparing for Heaven’s Door: Why Selling Song Catalogs Is Savvy Estate Planning for Bob Dylan, Neil Young and More, Variety, April 21, 2022. 

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

April 26, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Britney Spears leaving LA home post-conservatorship, in ‘process of buying’ new digs: ‘Time for change!‘

SpearsBritney Spears has decided to move from her Thousand Oaks mansion, just three months after the princess of pop was "freed from the confines of a 13-year conservatorship. . ." 

Brittney Spears recently took to Instagram with a beautiful picture of the view from her room. Spears captioned the picture, "[s]o this is the view from my room. . .It's pretty spectacular." And also stating, "I've lived in this house for seven years and I'm in the process of buying a new home. . . It's time for change." 

Spears also teased her followers by stating that she would "maybe" give us a tour of her beautiful home, that she has apparently been pretty modest about in the past. 

Britney Spears purchased the five-bedroom, eight-bathroom home for $7.4 million in 2015. The home sits on 20 acres and includes a separate pool house with a full kitchen, a tennis court, infinity pool, a spa and an orchard, and even a golf course. 

See Julius Young, Britney Spears leaving LA home post-conservatorship, in ‘process of buying’ new digs: ‘Time for change!‘, Fox Business, February 24, 2022. 

 

March 17, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Hank Williams Jr.'s son claims he's trapped in a conservatorship and 'wants out'

HAnkHank Williams Jr.'s youngest son, Sam Williams, has claimed that he is trapped in a conservatorship that he wants out of. Sam Williams posted a video this week, in which he alleged that his dad and half-sister placed him in the conservatorship. 

In a silent video posted on YouTube, Sam could be seen holding a white piece of paper with the words "I WANT OUT." However, the video is no longer viewable, as it has been made private. 

Williams claimed that his father Hank Williams Jr. and half-sister Holly Williams placed him in a conservatorship in August 2020, "55 days after his sister Katie Williams Dunning died in a car accident. 

On February 2, Sam shared the video to his twitter account writing "Please watch..conservatorship." Sam went on to write: 

I've been quiet a long time now. I want out of this, and I don't mind people knowing. They took my grief process, my spirit, my money, my car, my home, and everything possible in order to 'protect me.' Well, I need protection from them. . .I have worked my broken heart to quits since my dear Katie left for Home. I do not deserve this. This is a scary step but I don't see what else to do here. I am ashamed for my family and embarrassed. I am beyond done. I have my spirit back. Get. Me. Out. Please. 

See Melissa Roberto, Hank Williams Jr.'s son claims he's trapped in a conservatorship and 'wants out', Fox News, February 6, 2022. 

February 8, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Prince estate value set at $156.4M years after his death

PrinceAfter a six-year long legal fight over the value of Prince's estate, the parties have agreed on its final value at $156.4 million. Originally, the administrator of Prince's estate, Comerica Bank & Trust appraised it for $82.3 million, while the IRS put the value at $163.2 million. 

Prince died at the age of 57 of a fentanyl overdose in April 2016. The artist died intestate, without a will. Prince's heirs consisted of six siblings, two of which have died since Prince's passing, and two others are in their 80s. 

Prince's estate will be administered evenly between Primary Wave, a New York music company, and the three oldest of the music icon's six heirs or their families. If the parties agree, estate administration could begin as early as February. 

See Ken Martin, Prince estate value set at $156.4M years after his death, Fox Business, January 15, 2021.

 

January 16, 2022 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 6, 2021

Bunny Wailer’s 13 Children Asked To Do DNA Paternity Test ‘To Benefit From Father’s Will’

BunnyThe sister of late Bunny Wailer, Donna Livingston-Carridice, is asking the Regga legend's 14 children to get themselves DNA tested to establish paternity and "access the benefits set out in their father's will." 

According to Livingston-Carridice, Wailer's children have been "harassing the family of the eldest co-executor of Wailer's estate, Carlton Livingston." 

Livingston-Carridice stated, 

“The kids have launched a full-fledged attack on Carl’s wife and we, the elder members of the Livingston family, cannot allow this to continue. That is why we’re making an appeal to all of Jah B’s kids to do a DNA test so that they can establish paternity and gain the benefits of their father’s estate. There is no need to harass Carl or his wife. . ." 

According to a copy of the Will acquired by DancehallMag, each of the 13 children are listed by name as beneficiaries and also includes a provision for any other child to come forward to establish "paternal descent by DNA evidence." 

Livingston-Carridice has alleged that Wailer's estate will provide for the children, but that Bunny wanted the DNA to be done first. Livingston-Carridice has directed all children who wish to take the DNA test to DNA Carigen Lab in New Kingston. The test will cost $43,000. 

See Claude Mills, Bunny Wailer’s 13 Children Asked To Do DNA Paternity Test ‘To Benefit From Father’s Will’, DancehallMag, December 2, 2021. 

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.  

December 6, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Cher Sues Sonny Bono's Widow, Mary, for Withholding Royalties

CherCher has filed suit against Sonny Bono's widow, Mary Bono, alleging that Sonny's widow has "been withholding royalties from Sonny and Cher's 1960s hits. . .such as 'I Got You Babe' and 'The Beat Goes On." 

According to the legal documents filed in Federal Court, Cher claims that she and Sonny agreed to an equal split of their music royalties when they divorced in 1975. Cher claims that she and Sonny executed a deal when the couple settled the divorce in 1978. 

Cher alleges that Mary has been trying to "undo her ownership of those rights and royalties in recent years." 

Cher and Sonny married in 1964 and were very successful as a couple in the early '70s before they divorced. Cher went on to have a successful solo career, while Sonny became a California politician. Sonny was married to Mary when he died in a skiing accident in 1998. 

According to reports, Cher and Mary got along well after Sonny's death, but their friendship has clearly ended as Cher is now suing for at least $1 million in damages and is asking a judge to declare the 1978 divorce settlement enforceable. 

See Cher Sues Sonny Bono's Widow, Mary, for Withholding Royalties, TMZ, October 14, 2021. 

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

October 16, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Sean Lennon has taken control of John Lennon’s estate

LennonFor around 30 years, John Lennon's estate had been managed by Lennon's widow Yoko Ono. However, Ono has "retired from public life in recent years," with her last formal appearance being in 2017. 

Due to Ono's "retirement," Sean Ono Lennon has taken control of John Lennon's estate. Sean Lennon mentioned to an audience at the National Music Publisher's Association Awards that Ono had an "illness" but did not disclose any further information. 

Sean was appointed as the director at eight companies linking to Yoko Ono and the Beatles. Companies include multimedia company Apple Corp, "which was founded by John Lennon alongside bandmates Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr in 1968." 

Sean Ono Lennon will also oversee Lincoln, a company that manages the publishing rights of some of John Lennon's music. 

Taking control of Lennon's estate will not be a simple task. Lennon's estate was estimated to be worth around $800 million at his time of death, and it is safe to assume that it has grown since then. 

In 2019, Forbes reported that Lennon's estate had earned more than $14 million. At the time, Lennon was the world's 7th top-earning dead celebrity. 

Sean is motivated by his dad's music and looks to make sure the music is not forgotten. 

See Riley Fitzgerald, Sean Lennon has taken control of John Lennon’s estate, Cosmic Magazine, last visited Oct. 12, 2021. 

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

October 12, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Selena's former husband Chris Perez ends years-long legal battle with Quintanillas over documentary

SelenaSelena's former husband Chris Perez posted a tweet on Tuesday claiming that his legal battle—which has lasted a half-decade—with the Quintanilla family has come to a mutual end. The legal battle was over a proposed Selena documentary. 

According to the former husband of the late Tejano idol, he and the Quintanilla family have "amicably resolved" their ongoing legal dispute over the proposed documentary on Selena's life and music. 

Chris Perez's tweet read:

Good news! I have amicably resolved my legal dispute with the Quintanilla family. Now that these issues are behind us, going forward, my hope, and the hope of the Quintanilla family, is for us to work together to continue to honor and celebrate the legacy of Selena. 

Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., shared a similar message of reconciliation on Facebook shortly after Perez's post. 

See Ariana Garcia, Selena's former husband Chris Perez ends years-long legal battle with Quintanillas over documentary, Chron, September 15, 2021. 

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.  

September 16, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 10, 2021

Britney Spears’s father files to end her 13-year conservatorship

Free BritneyBritney Spears's father, Jamie Spears, filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court to end the conservatorship controlling his daughter's life and finances. 

The petition was filed on Tuesday, nearly a month after Jamie Spears agreed to vacate his role as the pop star's conservator. Jamie Spears has served as conservator of the pop star's estate for 13 years. 

Britney Spears's conservatorship was established in 2008 "as she publicly struggled with her mental health in the face of intense, unrelenting scrutiny from the news media and paparazzi."

The petition will not go into effect unless Judge Brenda Penny approves. The next hearing was set for September 29, in which Penny was set to hear a petition from Britney Spears's counsel, Mathew Rosengart, in which he would have advocated to remove Jamie Spears as conservator. 

Rosengart stated that the petition "represents a massive legal victory for Britney Spears, as well as vindication. 

See Sonia Rao, Britney Spears’s father files to end her 13-year conservatorship, The Washington Post, September 8, 2021. 

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

September 10, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Britney Spears’s Father to Exit Conservatorship

Estate planningAccording to court documents, James Spears plans to transfer control of Britney Spears' finances to a new conservator.

The court documents, which were filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday, come after a long battle between the pop star and her father who has governed the pop star's "personal life and roughly $60 million estate for the last 13 years."

James Spears' decision to step comes weeks after Britney Spears' asked a judge to remove her father as the conservator after characterizing the estate as "abusive."

Britney Spears was also recently allowed to hire a new lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, who has pushed "aggressively" to remove or suspend James Spears as conservator of the estate. Although Mr. Rosengart conceded that "there are no actual grounds for suspending or removing [Mr. Spears], he does not believe a public battle with his daughter over his continuing services as her conservator would be in her best interest." 

Mr. Spears said that he would work with the court and Mr. Rosengart to "prepare for an orderly transition to a new conservator." Mr. Rosengart stated that Mr. Spears decision to step down is "vindication for Britney." 

See Neil Shah, Britney Spears’s Father to Exit Conservatorship, The Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2021. 

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 12, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)