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December 2010

Walt Disney heirs embroiled in ugly family feud

Walt Disney World is a great vacation spot and a wonderful way to spend the holidays.  We just returned from there with our three children.  So it's ironic that we recently learned about a messy court fight involving two of Disney's grandchildren and their share of the massive Disney fortune.  Disney

Disney passed in 1966 at the age of 65.  He left behind two daughters and 10 grandchildren.  One of his two daughters, Sharon Mae Disney, had married and then divorced a real estate developer named Bill Lund.  Lund was the man who located and helped select Orlando, Florida as the site for Disney World.  Sharon and Bill had twins, born in 1970, named Michelle and Brad.

Sharon created trusts to pass on her share of the Disney fortune to her three children (her other child was from a prior marriage).  Under the trusts, the twins were entitled to substantial distributions. 

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10 Celebrity Estate Planning Mistakes

The Business Insider recently published an article featuring Trial & Heirs' Top 10 Celebrity Estate Planning Mistakes.  Here they are: Michael-jackson-thriller

1. Jimi Hendrix's Critical Error:  Doing Nothing

If you do not plan your own estate while alive, you could end up like Jimi Hendrix and have someone that you barely knew controlling your legacy.  Hendrix's legacy was fought over in court more than 30 years after he died.

2. Justice Warren Burger's Critical Error:  Doing It Yourself

Former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger created his own will with 176 words but he left out key provisions and his family paid the price.

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New legal battle coming for Michael Jackson Estate

The Los Angeles Times had an interesting article this past weekend about the Michael Jackson Estate and a new legal hurdle it faces.  The King of Pop certainly didn't do much to make it easy for his estate executors or his heirs.  This development could add new fuel to the fire between his family and the music executive and lawyer in charge of his estate and trust. Michael Jackson Trial and Heirs

As we've written extensively about before, Michael's mother, Katherine Jackson was in a nasty fight with the executors over control of the estate last year.  That is, they were feuding until Katherine dropped the legal challenge and stepped aside.  In fact, according to the LA Times article, she now feels executors John Branca and John McClain are doing "a very good job".

The problem is she believes that the cash allowance of $7,000 to $8,000 per month, which the pair gives her from the estate, is not enough.  While the estate also pays other expenses for her as well as Michael's kids (adding up to millions of dollars, according to the estate's lawyer), Katherine wants more.

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Video: Five Celebrity Tips to Reduce Family Estate Fights

We recently appeared on NBC Chicago, Channel 5 News, to share Five Trial & Heirs Celebrity Tips to help families reduce the chances of an estate fight.

Learn from the mistakes of Sonny Bono and Whitney Houston's father, as well as what Frank Sinatra and Ted Kennedy did right:


Kim Vatis is the anchor -- she and the staff at Chicago's Weekend Today show were wonderful.  

Posted by: Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Mayoras, co-authors of Trial and Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founders of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law. Andrew and Danielle are husband and wife attorneys, professional speakers and consultants across the country.  Follow us on Facebook and Google+.


Murdered Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen has missing will

Ronni Chasen was a top Hollywood publicist until she was brutally shot and murdered on November 16, 2010, in Beverly Hills, California.  She left behind no children and no spouse, but a detailed will and assets valued at more than six million dollars.Chasen_ronni_publicist

You can download and read Ronni Chasen's 51-page will here, courtesy of Eonline.  

The police reportedly have solid leads related to the slaying of the 64-year old, after they approached an ex-con named Harold Smith.  Smith shot himself as police approached to apprehend him.

While the drama surrounding her death certainly overshadows Chasen's estate, there could be some conflict arising there as well.  Chasen's will leaves most of her wealth to one of her nieces, while the other niece was left only $10. 

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