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September 2011

Trial & Heirs' Segment Premiers on FOX 2 News in Michigan

Michigan lawyers and authors, Danielle and Andy Mayoras, will be appearing twice a month on FOX 2 News in Detroit, Michigan to discuss the latest celebrity will, trust and estate cases and what people can learn to protect their own family fortunes.

The premiere segment of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! included discussions of the Estates of Michael Jackson and Tony Curtis, as well as the shocking turn of events involving 94-year old Zsa Zsa Gabor:

Trial and Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights:



By Danielle and Andy Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, husband-and-wife legacy expert attorneys, and hosts of the national television special, Trial & Heirs:  Protect Your Family Fortune! For the latest celebrity and high-profile cases, with tips to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your clients, click here to subscribe to The Trial & Heirs Update.  You can “like” them on Facebookand follow them on Twitter and Google+.

For legal help in Michigan, visit Andy and Danielle's law firm's websites, The Center for Elder Law and The Center for Probate Litigation   

Tony Curtis' Kids Say He Was the Victim of Undue Influence

The Tony Curtis Estate held an auction this weekend to unload hundreds of memorabilia, articles of clothing and other property belonging to the famed actor who died last September at age 85, after years of poor health. Julien’s Auction House in Beverly Hills, California, conducted the online auction and raised more than one million dollars.  The money went to the benefit of Tony’s widow and fifth wife, Jill Vandenberg Curtis, with a portion going to the couple’s charity.  Tony Curtis

So how much did his five children, including actress Jamie Lee Curtis, stand to receive from this?  Absolutely nothing.

Tony Curtis redid his Will and Trust in May of last year, a few months before he died from cardiac arrest.  When he did so, he cut out all of his children.  His will lists all five by name — including Jamie Lee — and states that he intentionally disinherited them.  No reason was given in his will.

His children were shocked by it and are not happy.  And this weekend’s auction only made it worse.

Daughter Allegra Curtis said in an interview that the family was upset because the widow, Jill, was the only one to benefit from the auction.  She arranged for it without telling his children. Even more upsetting, Allegra said she did not offer them anything of sentimental value to remember their father by.

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Trial & Heirs' Top 5 Reasons To Beware Joint Ownership

Celebrities are not the only ones to make mistakes with their estate planning.  It happens to people all across the country on a regular basis.  The end result — just like with the rich and famous — often is an ugly and expensive family fight in court.  One of the most common estate planning mistakes that people make is joint ownership.   Elderly woman

For the most part, we’re not talking about when a husband and wife have joint bank accounts or the title to their home is held in both of their names.  While not ideal for estate planning, this is quite common and can often be used without problems, except in many second-marriage situations or large estates that may suffer adverse tax consequences.

The area where we see significant problems, however, is when a parent adds a child’s name to an asset, such as a bank account, investment, or real estate.  This is often done to help with bill paying, as a will-substitute to avoid probate court (often called a “poor-man’s will”), or simply to help an elderly loved one who needs assistance managing his or her assets.  This is a big no-no!

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Did Conservatorship Save Britney Spears Life? Does She Still Need It?

As Britney Spears nears her 30th birthday in a few months, she is in the midst of a world tour, has a successful new album, and tells Glamour Magazine that she is happy and “in a really good place right now.”  There’s even talk of her regaining at least partial custody of her children.  Quite a turnaround from the public lows she hit just three years ago!  And who does she thank for it?  Her father, James Spears.   Britney Spears 3

In fact, according to a friend of hers, Britney Spears credits her father for saving her life. How did he do it when she was so close to the edge — bald head and all — just a few short years ago?

James Spears has been Britney’s conservator since 2008.  This means he was appointed by a judge to make all of Britney’s legal decisions, financial and otherwise, since that time.

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Can Simon Cowell Really Have His Body Frozen After He Dies?

Simon Cowell, the former American Idol judge famous for freezing contestants in their tracks with his biting critiques, now says he wants to freeze more than that … his body.  After he dies, of course.   Simon Cowell

In this recent interview with GQ Magazine, Cowell explains why he’d like to have his body cryonically frozen:

“It’s an insurance policy.  If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.  If it does work, I’ll be happy.  If it’s possible, and I think it will be, why not have a second crack?  Does that sound crazy?  I think it’s a good idea.

I have a feeling that if I don’t do it now, I could regret this in 300 years’ time.”

Setting aside the moral, ethical, and practical considerations of freezing someone’s body in case medical research can ever find a way to restore life, what kind of legal complications can this cause for the family?

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