Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Netflix's “I Care A Lot” Isn’t The Movie It Thinks It Is

PikeNetflix's new movie, I Care a Lot, has gained a lot of popularity since its release and even made Netflix's top 10 list.  And Rosamund Pike won a Golden Globe for her wonderful performance in the movie. 

In the film, Pike's character, Marla Grayson, "bribes medical professionals to declare older people legally unfit to look after themselves and then fools gullible judges into appointing her as their legal guardian. Once she becomes their guardian, she places them in nursing homes, often against their will, and immediately sets about liquidating their assets to pay herself." 

The court room scenes are very dramatic and compelling as they show that Marla is allowed to do these things she is doing and receives undying support from the courts and the police. She is even being thanked and assisted with her work. 

One of Marla's "victims" ends up being connected to the Russian mafia, which turns out to be a problem for Marla. Marla eventually has to take on the Russian mafia, which turns out to be very dramatic. This conflict is emotional as you find yourself rooting for criminals. 

Apparently, the idea of the film came from news reports of predatory guardians. 

As it turns out, given all of the abrupt changes and different levels in the movie, the movie may not really be about what the movie thinks it's about. 

See Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Netflix's “I Care A Lot” Isn’t The Movie It Thinks It Is, Buzz Feed News, February 26, 2021. 

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 9, 2021 in Elder Law, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Larry King's widow Shawn King files to be TV icon's estate administrator: report

LarrykingShawn King, estranged widow of Larry King, is not only contesting Larry King's will, but has also filed to be the estate administrator. Larry King's will stated that King wished for his $2 million estate to be divided between his five children. The handwritten will, left Shawn out of it and was not updated after the deaths of King's daughter Chaia and son Andy. However, the will was executed shortly after King had filed for a divorce from Shawn. 

In contesting the will, Shawn claimed that "reconciliation remained possible." Shawn also claimed that she had "the most knowledge of Larry's business, assets, and wishes." 

Shawn originally contested the appointment of King's son Larry King Jr. as administrator, but now she requests to take over the position and has submitted a copy of King's previous will that was executed in 2015 that names Shawn as executor of the estate. Other documents filed claim that Larry King's estate is only worth $350,000 as opposed to $2 million. 

Reps for King Jr. stated, "We do not intend to litigate this matter publically in the press. That said, we are aware of the unsupported allegations and innuendo in the Objections filed to the Petition for Probate. "Needless to say yet said nonetheless, we remain committed to our request to the Los Angeles Superior Court to admit to probate the valid October 17, 2019 will, entirely drafted and written in Larry King’s hand, which is the true and final statement of Larry’s intent to fully benefit his children equally."

See Nate Day, Larry King's widow Shawn King files to be TV icon's estate administrator: report, Fox News, February 20, 2021.

February 25, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Larry King's estranged wife to contest his secret will

LarrykingShawn King, Larry King's estranged wife, will be contesting the late broadcaster's secret will. Shawn King was Larry King's seventh wife and was legally married to him at the time of his death in January. Larry King had filed for divorce in August of 2019, but according to Shawn, she was surprised that he had secretly updated his will. 

Shawn stated, We had a very watertight family estate plan,” and also said, “It still exists."

Recently, news broke that Larry King wrote a handwritten amendment to his will on October 17, 2019 leaving his estate to his five children. According to Shawn, she and Larry had sort of rekindled things and became close again after he filed for divorce. 

Shawn also believes that someone convinced—or heavily influenced—Larry to update his will. Shawn said she is fighting for a mere sliver of the estate, but the main reason she is fighting is because, “[i]t’s the principle.”

See Suzy Byrne, Larry King's estranged wife to contest his secret will, Yahoo Entertainment, February 15, 2021. 

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

February 20, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 15, 2021

Larry King left a 'hand-written will' in 2019 seeking equal split of his $50M fortune to his five children... and leaves out ex-wife Shawn

LarrykingLegendary journalist Larry King died of sepsis on January 23rd at the age of 87. King reportedly left behind a hand-written will "advising for an even split of his fortune to his five children in the event of his death." Larry King was reportedly worth around $50 million at the time of his death. 

The will was reportedly written on October 17, 2019, coming just two months after he filed for divorce. His seventh wife (whom he intended on divorcing), Shawn Southwick, was left out of the note entirely. 

The document stated, "This is my Last Will & Testament. It should replace all previous writings." The will stated that King wanted "100 percent of his funds to be divided equally among my children Andy, Chaia, Larry Jr., Chance, and Cannon." King's son Andy passed away of a heart attack in July 2020 and his daughter Chaia, died in August after being diagnosed with lung cancer. 

"Shawn revealed that Larry was 'ready to go' as he fought off an infection in the hospital after beating the coronavirus." Shawn also stated that King's last words to her were, "I love you, take care of the boys." 

'You know, he never wanted to go but his sweet little body was just, it had just been hit so many times with so many things and once we heard the word Covid, all of our hearts just sank. But he beat it, you know, he beat it, but it did take its toll and then the unrelated infection finally is what took him, but boy, he was not gonna go down easily.'

Luckily, King was able to share a moment with Shawn and his sons on a video call shortly before he passed. 

See Tracy Wright, Larry King left a 'hand-written will' in 2019 seeking equal split of his $50M fortune to his five children... and leaves out ex-wife Shawn, Daily Mail (U.K.), February 11, 2021. 

Special thanks to Deborah Matthews (Virginia Estate Planning Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

February 15, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Television, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Britney Spears Conservatorship Case Heads Back to Court

SpearsAs Britney Spears continues to fight to get her life back, fans and other onlookers are creating hype around the New York Times documentary "Framing Britney Spears." The documentary covers the #FreeBritney movement spurred by the conflict over Britney Spears' conservatorship. The conservatorship arrangement has left her father in charge to manage her career, personal life and finance since 2008. 

The documentary includes footage of Spears when she was just a young and gifted performer, who was often used and taken advantage of for political gain. Spears was often terrorized by paparazzi and evil celebrity culture. 

Since the documentary has been released, celebrities are beginning to join the movement, which was mostly made up of activists and superfans at its origin. 

Spears tweeted earlier this week,

“I’ll always love being on stage …. but I am taking the time to learn and be a normal person ….. I love simply enjoying the basics of every day life!!!!”

“Remember, no matter what we think we know about a person’s life,” she wrote, “it is nothing compared to the actual person living behind the lens.”

It is clear that Britney wants her father out as her conservator. According to her lawyer, Spears is afraid of her father Jamie and wanted her temporary personal conservator, Jodi Montgomery, to be made permanent. 

See Julia Jacobs, Britney Spears Conservatorship Case Heads Back to Court, N.Y. Times, February 9, 2021. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

February 11, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Music, New Cases, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Handling of Britney Spears

SpearsThe unusual court-approved conservatorship of Britney Spears which spurred the "Free Britney" movement continues to be the topic of conversation and has even brought a new documentary from the New York Times. The movement and the documentary are made up of fans of Britney Spears. 

Liz Day, a writer for the Times Insider, stated, "It appears to raise a contradiction: How can someone be seemingly able to function at a high level as a superstar performing sold-out shows in Las Vegas, while also being so unable to take care of herself and at risk that this layer of intense protection is needed?" Liz Day is also a senior editor for the new documentary and film which is titled, "Framing Britney Spears." 

Many fans and followers are asking themselves the same question, and many are irritated at the way Britney Spears has been treated during the last 13 years of the legal arrangement and the continued legal process. 

The film is not without controversy, as the film includes clips, interviews, and commercials of Britney Spears in the past, including those that occurred in her early rise to fame. 

It is not secret that Britney Spears was loved by many, but she was also hated and tortured by many. Much of this hatred was supported and encouraged by the mainstream media. 

According to Johanna Schiller, the archival producer, “Britney is so incredibly well documented and so much is out there that there was an overload of material,” Ms. Schiller said. “What was challenging was finding the choice moments in that ocean of stuff and trying to pinpoint material that hadn’t been out there so much before.”

According to Britney's lawyer, “Britney herself is vehemently opposed to this effort by her father to keep her legal struggle hidden away in the closet as a family secret,” her lawyer wrote. “In this case, it is not an exaggeration to say that the whole world is watching.”

“The New York Times Presents” airs on FX on Friday at 10 p.m. and can be streamed on Hulu." 

See Lix Day, The Handling of Britney Spears, February 5, 2021. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

 

February 9, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Music, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 28, 2021

'Seinfeld' actor Jerry Stiller's $5M estate divvied among family, aides, charities

StillerComedy Legend Jerry Stiller died in May at the age of 92. He was known for his role in TV sitcom Seinfeld. According to his will, he designated money for his longtime personal assistant and his housekeeper, just to name a couple. 

Stiller's estate was worth roughly $5 million dollars in which will be spread among his family, former employees, several New York organizations and more. 

Stiller left $150,000 to his long-time assistant that was "in recognition of her exceptional services toward enhancing the professional careers of myself and my wife for many years." 

Most of Stiller's property was left tho his wife who died in 2015. Stiller's children (Ben and Amy Stiller) are the beneficiaries. 

Also included in the will are, Stiller's grandchildren, his sister, and niece and nephew. Stiller also left $25,000 to Syracuse University, his alma matter which he wanted to be focused on subsidizing productions in the theatre department. 

Stiller also left $10,000 to the charity The Actors Fund of America for nursing homes and retirement homes. 

See Elizabeth Rosner, Priscilla DeGregory, & Tamar Lapin, 'Seinfeld' actor Jerry Stiller's $5M estate divvied among family, aides, charities, Fox News, January 28. 2021. 

January 28, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Nicolas Cage blew $150 million on a dinosaur skull, pygmy heads and 2 European castles

CageAt one point, Nicolas Cage was worth around $150 million, but the wealth ran out quickly after he began purchasing expensive items. The string of outlandish purchases lead to foreclosure on several properties. 

Cage once owned 15 homes across the world, including one in the Bahamas. Other purchases included a nine-foot-tall burial tomb, an octopus, shrunken pygmy heads, a $150,000 Superman comic and 70-million-year-old dinosaur skull. 

What really hurt Cage financially was his "overstuffed real estate portfolio." Cage indulged himself in reading and studying philosophy, which moved him to seek out the places he had been learning about, eventually leading him to buy properties that matched the new found ideals. 

Cage refers to this period as the "holy grail quest" that "put [him] on a search around different areas, mostly in England, but also some places in the States." During this period, Cage purchased two European Castles that were $10 million and $2.3 million and a $15.7 million countryside estate in Rhode Island. 

On his search for the "holy grail" Cage came to this conclusion: "What is the grail but Earth itself." 

See Emmie Martin, Nicolas Cage blew $150 million on a dinosaur skull, pygmy heads and 2 European castles, CNBC News, November 24, 2020. 

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

December 31, 2020 in Estate Planning - Generally, Television, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Walt Disney's grandson heir demands 'biased' California judge is fired for denying his $200 million inheritance and falsely claiming he has Down syndrome

DisneyWalt Disney's grandson has alleged that a California judge wrongly denied him his $200 million inheritance by falsely claiming he has Down syndrome. Walt Disney's grandson has been involved in a long and intense legal battle in attempts to prove that he is mentally capable. 

"Bradford Lund, 50, asked the state's judicial watchdog to remove LA County Superior Court Judge David Cowan, for an alleged ethics violation during a probate hearing of the cartoon king's will, claiming: 'He's unsuited to be a judge'" 

Bradford and his stepmother claim that Judge Cowan showed bias by siding with "hostile trustees." Last year, Judge Cowan allegedly stated in open court, "'Do I want to give 200 million dollars effectively to someone who may suffer from Down syndrome? The answer is no.'" 

Walt Disney started his cartoon studio in 1923 and it eventually became an empire that is estimated to be worth $130 billion today. 

Disney died in 1966, just a few years before his grandchildren were born. Disney left around $1.2 billion to his daughters and their heirs. 

The family feud began after Bradford and his twin sister's mother Sharon died in 1993. Sharon left her portion of Disney to the twins when they turn 35 so long as three appointed trustees deem them mentally capable. 

Bradford's attorney has claimed that Judge Cowan is unsuited to be a judge has he has previously shown 'bias' and 'personal animus.'

See Walt Disney's grandson heir demands 'biased' California judge is fired for denying his $200 million inheritance and falsely claiming he has Down syndrome, Daily Mail (U.K.), December 18, 2020. 

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

December 27, 2020 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 21, 2020

George Clooney once gave 14 friends $1 million each in cash

ClooneyBefore George Clooney settled down and became a family man, he gifted 14 of his closest friends $1 million each—in cash. In an interview with GQ, Clooney shared the details of this generous gift. Before the interview, the story was more of a rumor and at the most an unconfirmed story. 

Clooney stated that he was working on the movie "Gravity" at the time and was being given percentages of the movies in place of a salary. The movie ended up being a big hit, making Clooney a few million dollars. At the time, Clooney wasn't married and had no family, so he gave the money away to his closest friends. 

Clooney stated, "And I thought, you know, without them I don't have any of this," he said of his friends. "And we're all really close, and I just thought, basically, if I get hit by a bus, they're all in the will. So why the f**k am I waiting to get hit by a bus?"

Clooney said that he drove an old van to a warehouse in Los Angeles where they have "giant pallets of cash", filled up bags with $14 million and then invited his friends over. 

Clooney added, "And I just held up a map and I just pointed to all the places I got to go in the world and all the things I've gotten to see because of them," he told GQ. "And I said, 'How do you repay people like that?' And I said, 'Oh, well: How about a million bucks?'"

It certainly pays to be a good friend to George Clooney. 

See, Scottie Andrew, George Clooney once gave 14 friends $1 million each in cash, CNN Entertainment, November 18, 2020. 

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

December 21, 2020 in Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Television, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)