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September 2009

Edward Kennedy's will revealed

The will of the late Senator Edward Kennedy was filed with a Massachusetts probate court late last week, providing a peek behind the curtain of the famed Kennedy family.  225px-Ted_Kennedy

Kennedy died on August 25, 2009, from brain cancer, at age 77.  He was survived by his wife of 17 years, Victoria, his three children, and two step-children.  Here is a copy of his will, courtesy of FOX TV in Boston:  Download Ted Kennedy's will.   

Kennedy's will reveals that he did the important estate planning that most adults in this country would benefit from ... he created a revocable living trust, The Edward M. Kennedy 2006 Trust.  His will directed that all of his assets pass into this trust. 

The will states that the trust provides for his wife, three children, other relatives, and for payments of his debts and taxes.  It suggests he left nothing for his wife's two children, Kennedy's step-children.


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$19.6 million in Steve McNair's Estate, and 1 wild claim

I've written articles before about the mess that murdered NFL quarterback Steve McNair left behind because he died without a will.  I had predicted a possible fight between his widow and the two minor children from prior relationships, because she didn't list them as heirs on the probate filing.  The official story from the McNair camp is that they have to file claims with the Estate to be recognized as heirs, which they haven't yet done even though they both have attorneys representing their interests.Steve McNair 2

My personal view:  it was inappropriate not to list the two kids, and perhaps his widow, Mechelle McNair, realized it afterward.  Regardless, it now appears that the children won't have to fight to prove they are entitled to inherit, at least for now.

But even with one fight avoided, the Steve McNair Estate is far from easy.  First, there's the matter of what's in the estate.  His widow's attorney recently filed an inventory listing estate assets at around $19.6 million.  Most of this money (about $16.9 million) was invested in stocks and bonds.  McNair also owned at least two corporations, one of which was a cattle business called McNair Farms, Inc.  (Quarterbacking and cattle farming does go hand in hand, doesn't it?)


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Ike Turner Estate Starts a Very Ugly Trial

Ike Turner is considered to be, by many, one of the fathers of rock and roll.  While he's best known for his relationship and work with Tina Turner, his 50+ years in the music business has covered virtually every position and rock genre imaginable.Ike Turner

He died of a cocaine overdose at age 76 on December 12, 2007.  He left behind several ex-wives (the exact number is up to debate, because he reportedly was married somewhere between 5 and 13 times) as well as six children. 

Those children say Ike he died without a will.  His final ex-wife, Audrey Madison Turner, says Ike left a handwritten will leaving all to her - after the marriage ended, no less.  (Who doesn't leave a handwritten will naming their ex-spouse as sole beneficiary?)  The children point to a handwritten note that appeared to revoke that will one month later. 

Then there's his former attorney, James Clayton, who says he has the valid will ... yet another hand-written special, leaving all to the attorney with instructions to contact one of his daughters to work out who gets what.  But can that document be a valid will when it has the name of Ike's daughter misspelled?  That's what this trial, which started September 17th, will sort out.

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MLK family fight heading to trial

A few months ago I blogged about the court battle between the three surviving children of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Well the case has only gotten uglier as it's progressed.Martin_Luther_King_Jr 2a

Yesterday, the attorneys were in court because Dexter King -- the one in control of the King Estate -- filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case against him.  The judge refused, paving the way for a full jury trial on the claim that he breached his fiduciary duty against his two siblings. 

Dexter's brother and sister believe he withheld financial records, engaged in self-dealing and cut them out of important negotiations affecting the estate and corporation they own to manage their famous father's legacy.  Dexter, in turn, counter-sued his sister demanding that she turn over to him a set of love letters between their father and mother as well as MLK's Nobel Peace Prize.  The judge ordered that the documents be given to him to hold until the case is resolved.

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Tolkien Estate settles lawsuit over movie proceeds

The Lord of The Rings creator can finally rest in peace!  Those in charge of J.R.R. Tolkien's estate filed a lawsuit in February 2008 against New Line Cinema claiming that the estate was deprived of hundreds of millions of dollars.  It just been settled, to the delight of hobbits everywhere.Tolkein

Why the lawsuit?  Apparently, the orc-like movie producers only paid $62,500 for the movie rights despite earning an estimated six billion dollars!  The estate's attorney says they were promised 7.5% of that figure and hadn't been paid.  Let's do the math:  7.5% x 6,000,000,000 = $450,000,000.  That's 450 million dollars.  What, the check got lost in the mail?

Tolkien's heirs weren't the only ones screaming about not being paid.  The director, Peter Jackson, also feuded with the All Seeing Evil Eye  . . . I mean, the movie studio over his share of the profits.  New Line Cinema had settled that mess too.   

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DJ AM may have died without a will

Celebrity disk jockey DJ AM, also known as Adam Michael Goldstein, was considered by many to be the best -- or at least most famous -- DJ around.  He dated models and Hollywood stars, performed regularly with famous singers and rappers, and was hired to play music at the biggest celebrity parties.DJ AM

He was found dead in his New York apartment on August 28th, from a drug overdose.  At this point, it's unclear whether he committed suicide or not.  He was 36.

This week, his mother filed to open a probate estate for Goldstein's assets, in Los Angeles.  Interestingly, the probate paperwork filed by her attorney indicates that it is undetermined whether he died "testate" -- with a will -- or "intestate" -- without a will.  Goldstein's mother lists herself as the only heir, because she is the only surviving parent.  Goldstein was unmarried and had no children.

Under California's intestate laws, if no will surfaces, this would mean that Goldstein's sister would not inherit anything; everything would go to his mother.  Is that consistent with what Goldstein would have wanted?  It doesn't matter.  When someone dies without a will -- even if everyone knows what he or she would have wanted -- the law decides who inherits. 

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Eliza Presley suing to prove Elvis is her brother and he's alive

One of my first articles on this blog was about Eliza Presley's lawsuit against the Estate of Vernon Presley (the father of Elvis) to prove she was a legitimate heir of Vernon and half-sister to Elvis.  She sued last year, but withdrew the claim because it was in the wrong court -- probate court, instead of a court that could entertain a paternity case.  Her claim is, legally, to establish paternity -- even though Vernon has been dead since 1979.Elvis-presley

Several months ago, I received an email from Eliza Presley.  She directed me to a website, The Elvis Information Network, which includes a detailed interview with Eliza.  Interestingly, this interview goes into great detail about the various DNA reports that Eliza has obtained from cousins of Elvis from both his maternal and paternal sides.  And, according to her verbal descriptions of the DNA analyses, they match.

But, does that mean she is related to Vernon -- or Elvis?  Not yet.  But there's more.  Eliza says she also has DNA results from testing of a man named Jesse.  Eliza says that Jesse actually is Elvis.  That's right, he's alive!

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