Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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)

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Appeals court sends ‘Leaving Neverland’ fight to arbitration

HboA federal appeals court in California ruled that a lawsuit filed bye Michael Jackson's estate can go forward in private arbitration. Michael Jackson's estate filed the lawsuit over the HBO documentary about two of MJ's sex abuse accusers. 

The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decisions of two lower  courts, ruling in favor of Michael Jackson's estate. 

Without further appeals, the case will go to a private arbitrator, which is required by the 1992 contract that the estate's lawsuit sought to enforce. 

In the event of private arbitration, the proceedings will be kept out of public view. MJ's attorneys said that they would like for the proceedings to be as open as possible.

The agreement between Jackson and HBO, prohibited the latter from disparaging Jackson in any way, which the estate felt was done by airing the molestation allegations of Wade Robson and James Safechuck in "Leaving Neverland."

“In the court’s own words, HBO ‘agreed that it would not make any disparaging remarks concerning Jackson,’” estate attorneys Howard Weitzman and Jonathan Steinsapir said in a statement. “It’s time for HBO to answer for its violation of its obligations to Michael Jackson.”

HBO argued that the provisions was no longer valid since both sides had performed their parts of the agreement. Jackson's family has alleged that the documentary's allegations are false and came from two men "who previously told authorities they were not molested." 

See Andrew Dalton, Appeals court sends ‘Leaving Neverland’ fight to arbitration, Associated Press, December 14, 2020. 

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

December 15, 2020 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases, New Legislation, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 9, 2020

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' follow-up plans now the subject of a legal dispute with Paramount and Truman Capote estate

Breakfast-at-tiffanys1The initial plans to provide a follow up of Breakfast at Tiffany's have come under scrutiny as the studio will not green light a new project. Apparently, the right to create a sequel, prequel, or tv series has brought on a tense legal battle. 

"According to a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, the issue comes down to ownership of Truman Capote’s 1958 novella that the movie was based on. Before he died, Capote reportedly set up a charitable trust that named Alan Schwartz as the trustee."

When Capote died in 1984, his estate entered into an agreement with Paramount Pictures that allowed the studio "to motion a new project based on the book." However, the agreement placed a time limit on the studio's right to develop a project. The expiration of the time limit would restore the right back to Schwartz. 

The plaintiff in the case claims that the studio no longer has a right over the property other than the profit of the original movie, asserting that the studio missed its window to develop any project related to Breakfast at Tiffany's. Paramount responded by claiming that it still has the rights to the movie because it was under "no obligation to produce a film and spent $300,000 for the right to have that option." 

"Apparently the charity and Paramount have been in negotiations as the former is fielding numerous, potentially lucrative bids to produce something. However, the studio has raised its objections and allegedly will settle for nothing short of a motion picture. As a result of that and the legal dispute, all negotiations are reportedly stalled." 

See Tyler McCarthy, 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' follow-up plans now the subject of a legal dispute with Paramount and Truman Capote estate, Fox Business, November 5, 2020. 

November 9, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, New Cases, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 1, 2020

President Trump pays tribute to Sean Connery as actor's widow reveals he had dementia: 'It was no life for him'

James Bond actor Sean Connery died at age 90 on October 31. His widow, Micheline Roquebrune revealed that Connery suffered from dementia. 

Roquebrune stated, It was no life for him. . . He was not able to express himself latterly." Roquebrune also stated that Connery died peacefully in his sleep and that's the way he wanted to go. 

Sean Connery's son Jason stated, 

Connery"We are all working at understanding this huge event as it only happened so recently, even though my dad has been unwell for some time,” the younger Connery shared upon news of his father’s death in his sleep while at home in Nassau. "A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad and a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor."

President Donal Trump also paid his respects referring to Connery as a "great actor and an even greater man." Donald Trump also gave Connery credit for helping the President get "the green light" for a development project in Scotland. Although, this claim was refuted as Mirror reported that Connery did support the golf course project, his endorsement was not what got it approved. 

Sean Connery was a great actor and from what it sounds like, a role model man as well. 

See Eric Donnelly, President Trump pays tribute to Sean Connery as actor's widow reveals he had dementia: 'It was no life for him', Yahoo.com, November 1, 2020. 

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

November 1, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Estate of late Holocaust survivor sues 'Borat' creators

"The estate of a recently deceased Holocaust survivor filed a lawsuit to keep her interview out of Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming “Borat” movie, saying she thought the film was a serious documentary."

Creator of "Borat" approached Judith Dim Evans, who passed away this summer, to talk about the Holocaust. It turns out, Evans agreed to the interview under the impression that "Borat" was a serious documentary and not a comedy. This lead to her estate filing a lawsuit this week in Fulton Superior Court. 

Ms. Evans was reportedly "horrified and upset" to find that the movie was intended to "mock the Holocaust and Jewish culture." 

The estate claims that Ms. Evans would not have agreed to the interview if she had known of the true purpose behind it and nature of the film for which it would be used. 

The estate is seeking for the scene including Evans' interview be removed from the film, as well as damaged less than $75,000. 

See Elizabeth Rosner, Estate of late Holocaust survivor sues 'Borat' creators, Apple News, October 14, 2020. 

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

October 29, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 23, 2020

Steve Bing worth $300K at time of his death despite $600M inheritance: reports

BingSteve Bing, a film producer and financier, inherited a great fortune from his grandfather, Leo S. Bing, but reportedly was only worth $300,000 at the time of his death. 

When Bing was 18 years old, he was given $600 million, but debt swallowed up a lot of those assets. 

In June, Bing died from suicide at the age of 55. Bing's daughter Kira, was put in charge of Bing's estate. 

Elizabeth Hurley, with whom Bing shared a son, stated, “He was a good man. He gave to so many good causes. . . “He was a philanthropist at heart and when we were together, which was a very long time ago, more than 18 years ago, I loved him very much. So I really hope people will retain fond memories of him.”

Bing was an unselfish man who gave a lot of his fortune to philanthropies. 

See Jessica Napoli, Steve Bing worth $300K at time of his death despite $600M inheritance: reports, Fox News, October 21, 2020. 

October 23, 2020 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Black Panther Star Chadwick Boseman Died Without A Will

BpAs you may be aware, Chadwick Boseman, the captivating actor that played the roles of Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, Black Panther, and many more, passed away on August 28, 2020. This death was one of the many heart wrenching deaths we have seen in this tough year. Boseman passed away from colon cancer which he had been dealing with for a few years, unbeknownst to the world, and even his colleagues and producers. 

Chadwick Boseman died intestate, which has been a cause for concern. Boseman's widow has filed for probate in Los Angeles, California. It has been reported that the estimated worth of Boseman's estate is $938,500. As of now, California law will govern the distribution of the estate. 

Under California Law, Boseman's widow, as his surviving spouse, is entitled to inherit the estate. "When a California resident dies with a surviving spouse and no descendants, California law provides that the surviving spouse inherits all community property and separate property."

Boseman's surviving spouse also has priority to serve as administrator of the estate. Priority for this appointment is set out in the California Probate Code. 

See Black Panther Star Chadwick Boseman Died Without A Will, Probate Stars, October 16, 2020.

 

 

October 19, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Television | Permalink | Comments (1)