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March 2010

Farrah Fawcett trust in the midst of ugly lawsuit

Richard Francis is the trustee of The Fawcett Living Trust, Farrah Fawcett's trust which details how she wanted her money to pass.  You can read the Probate Lawyer Blog's prior article discussing this interesting trust hereFarrah-fawcett-young

On behalf of the trust, Francis sued Hollywood producer Craig Nevius accusing him of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Fawcett's company and botching production of a television documentary showing her struggles with cancer.

Nevius is not taking the lawsuit lying down.  In fact, he says the entire case is a thinly-disguised attempt by Francis to use money from Fawcett's trust to protect his own interests.  Nevius had already sued Francis, as well as Ryan O'Neal (Fawcett's longtime companion) and her friend Alana Stewart when Nevius felt they wrongly excluded him from producing the documentary, which aired on NBC in May of 2009.  In other words, Nevius says that this lawsuit by Francis is retaliation to get back at him for his lawsuit.

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Will contest rages over estate of illustrator Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor was a beloved children's book illustrator and author who was considered by many to be a 19-century Martha Stewart.  She lived as if it was the 1800s, on a New England farm.  She even raised her four children for years without electricity or running water.  She illustrated such classics as The Wind in the Willows, The Night Before Christmas, and The Secret Garden.Tasha Tudor

Tudor died at the age of 92 on June 18, 2008, eccentric to the end.  According to the New York Times, she claimed to be the reincarnation of a sea captain's wife who lived in the early 19th Century and she strove to replicate that life.  Tudor said that, after she passed, she intended to return to the 1830s. 

Her estate has been estimated to be worth more that two million dollars.  She left almost all of it to only one of her four children.

The will was reportedly signed in 2001 and left everything to her son Seth, and his son Winslow, except for small bequests to the other three children and some of the grandchildren.  Tudor's will says that she didn't leave more to her other children because they were estranged.

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Anna Nicole Smith Estate loses out on $88 Million

Can the Granddaddy of all probate disputes finally be nearing an end?  Those in charge of the Anna Nicole Smith Estate certainly hope not.  Smith, also known as Vickie Lynn Marshall, battled for a share of her late husband's multi-billion dollar estate for almost 12 years before she died.  Here's the Probate Lawyer Blog's discussion of the case to bring you up to speed.  Anna-Nicole-Smith-Estate-Trial-and-Heirs

To cut to the chase, Smith was broken hearted when she didn't inherit anything from the estate or trust of J. Howard Marshall II, her late husband (who was more than 60 years older than she was).  Smith filed legal claims seeking a piece of his fortune in two different states; she lost in Texas but won in California.  Her victory was snatched away by the federal court of appeals, but she found new hope when that ruling was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 2006.  Yes, that's right, the highest court in our land ruled in favor of the ex-Playboy Playmate.

But, now, the three federal appellate court judges who reviewed the case ruled against her -- again. 

In fact, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a landmark decision this past Friday, declaring that the federal judge who awarded her $88 million never should have done so.

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Michael Jackson Estate's record deal raises questions

The Probate Lawyer Blog featured this article about the Michael Jackson Estate several weeks ago, posing the question of whether it is ethical for estate executors to seek a 10% fee for certain business deals they reach for such a high-profile estate.  It's especially problematic when you factor in that one of the executors was Michael Jackson's attorney.Michael Jackson Trial and Heirs

Well, this attorney, John Branca, and his co-executor, John McClain (a music executive), just hit the mother-load.  It was widely reported yesterday that they brokered a deal worth up to $250 million dollars (that's right -- one quarter of a billion dollars!).  What was the deal for?  Sony announced a seven-year distribution agreement for unreleased music recorded by the late King of Pop (as well as related video footage). 

Yes that means that Branca and McClain earned $12.5 million each for one deal.

Why do we question this?  For several reasons, actually.  First, it's the job of executors to bring in as much money as possible for an estate that has earning potential like this estate has.  They shouldn't need a 10% incentive to do the job they're required by law to do.

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The Elvis Presley Conspiracy (Part III): Eliza's journey

I know, this all sounds crazy.  Elvis can't really be alive, can he?  So he's been in hiding for more than 30 years, without the world finding out?  How can that be?Elvis pink envelope 2

And while we're at it, who really did shoot JFK ... and what happened in Roswell, New Mexico?

Yes, it all sure sounds like conjecture and speculation.  There have been conspiracy theories floating around for years, but where is the hard evidence?

Well, Eliza Presley says she has it.  But she didn't gather it to prove that Elvis was alive.  Instead, she only wanted to find her father.  So how did she get this evidence?

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The Redd Foxx Estate mess

There was an interesting article recently in AOL News about the Redd Foxx Estate.  The successful comedian and star of Sanford and Son (whose real name was John Elroy Sanford) died October 11, 1991.  Apparently, the Estate has no assets.  Even if it did, there's an outstanding tax bill owed that's a bit hefty -- a whopping $3.6 million as of the day he died.Redd_Foxx

But the court-appointed executor for the estate is trying to change all that.  John Cahill, who is a public administrator in Las Vegas (where the estate is pending) was put in charge in 2007.  The prior administrator was Debraca Foxx, Foxx's daughter, who was removed from her position in 2006.  Apparently, she failed to comply with a court order to account for what she had done with royalties and other monies the estate brought in under her watch. 

In fact, Foxx's widow (and fourth wife), Ka Ho Foxx, accused Debraca of stealing the money instead of paying down the tax debt.

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LA Times article about estate planning

The business section of Sunday's Los Angeles Times featured an article called "Time to prepare your will".  Discussing the importance of estate planning, the article included quotes from both of us.  Here's a few selections from the article:

If you're rich, the best estate planning advice would be to die quickly. If you're not, the best advice is to either review or rewrite your estate planning documents to make sure your heirs aren't left high and dry if you die. Cemetery

FOR THE RECORD: The Personal Finance column about estate planning in Sunday's Business section misidentified the book "Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!" by Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Mayoras as "Trial & Errors: Famous Fortune Fights."

That's because estate taxes that could allow Uncle Sam to nab up to 45% of your bequeathed assets are currently -- and very temporarily -- kaput.

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