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Celebrity Legacies: Aaron Spelling Left Behind Massive Fortune & A Broken Family

What would it be like to grow up in a 123-room mansion in a swanky Los Angeles suburb, rubbing elbows with celebrities, and buying anything you want?  Sounds pretty great -- unless it was all taken away from you as an adult.  As Tori Spelling wrote in her autobiography, it's not easy going from having a silver spoon in your mouth to a plastic one.   How-rich-is-Aaron-Spelling

This is installment #13 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.

Aaron Spelling was one of the most successful television producers ever, masterminding such hits such as Charlie's AnglesBeverly Hills 90210Dynasty, and The Love Boat.  When Spelling died after a severe stroke in 2006, at 83 years old, he left behind a fortune worth an estimated $500 million at the time.  He owned the largest house in all of Los Angeles County.  The home, known as the Spelling Manor, was where Aaron and his second wife, Candy, moved in the late 1980's with their children, teenage daughter Tori and son Randy.

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Could Feud Over Saints Owner Tom Benson Happen In Your Family?

Yes, Tom Benson has a great deal more money and power than most of us.  How much?  Try $1.9 billion, according to the annual Forbes rankings.  Indeed, there are only 350 richer people in the whole country.  The successful owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, Benson built a wide-ranging empire of car dealerships, banks, various real estate holdings, and a television station.  He still actively participates in running his businesses — most of all his beloved Saints.  Tom-Benson-Saints-300x203

But for all of his wealth, prestige, and status, Tom Benson is in the midst of the same type of probate-related court battle that entangles many elderly individuals in our country.  Some of Benson’s heirs do not believe the 87-year-old is mentally competent to make his own decisions any more.  They are seeking to have him declared legally incompetent and protect him from what they claim is undue influence.

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Casey Kasem Teaches Lessons In End of Life Planning and Elder Abuse

It appears that the life of famed Top 40 Countdown host Casey Kasem is nearly at an end.  Last Wednesday, a Los Angeles Judge ruled that Casey Kasem’s daughter, Kerri Kasem, could suspend the artificial delivery of food and water to Casey due to his grave suffering.   Casey Kasem 2

Specifically, according to the Los Angeles Times, Kerri Kasem’s attorney filed documents with the court reporting the doctors’ conclusion that “continuation of artificial nutrition and hydration is not in the patient’s best interests because it will at best prolong the dying process for him and will certainly add suffering to an already terribly uncomfortable dying process.”

On Tuesday, the same Judge granted the request of Casey’s wife, Jean Kasem, who asked that Kerri be ordered to resume infusions of food, water and medicine for the ailing Casey.  He has been hospitalized in critical condition with sepsis (serious infections that have reached the blood stream), other infections, bed sores, and late-stage dementia from Lewy Body disease, among other complications.

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Casey Kasem Is Missing: Could This Happen To Your Family?

Casey Kasem — the legendary voice of American Top 40 Countdown and numerous cartoon characters — has been kidnapped by his own wife while he suffers from advanced dementia, according to Kasem’s daughter, Kerri Kasem.   Casey’s wife, Jean Kasem, is accused of secreting away the 82-year old former DJ, in a move that could jeopardize his health, safety, and well-being.  Kerri told a California judge and various media outlets that her step-mother had fled the state with her husband of 30 years, in an attempt to avoid a Judge’s ruling about who would be Casey’s new conservator.  Casey Kasem

The ruling was made on Monday, after a long family feud over the care and control of Casey Kasem.  During the Monday court hearing, Kerri and her attorney obtained a temporary conservatorship over her father so that she can begin making decisions for him, such as where he lives, who he sees, and managing his medical care.  Unfortunately, she won’t be able to actually make any of these decisions — or even see her father — while he is missing.

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Legally Blonde Reese Witherspoon Goes To Court To Protect Father From Bigamy

One of Reese Witherspoon’s more famous roles was as the perky young attorney in Legally Blonde.  Late last week, she accompanied her parents to court in a much more somber setting.  Reese-Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon’s father, Dr. John Draper Witherspoon, was recently married.  At least, that’s what a newspaper in Nashville, Tennessee announced.  You can read the big announcement and see the happy couple’s wedding photo here.

While John doesn’t exactly look happy in the picture, the announcement reveals that they will reside together in Nashville, following the intimate ceremony that featured cowboy boots and yellow roses, based on their Texas heritage.  The festivities took place on January 14th, and the couple plans a celebration with friends and family for the summer.

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Brooke Astor Estate Settlement: Marshall Gets His Just Desserts

News broke recently about a global settlement involving the estate of Brooke Astor.    The renowned New York society queen and philanthropist, who died at age 105, left behind an estate of nearly $200 million dollars.   Brooke Astor 2

Astor’s assets — along with the $50 million charitable trust of her late husband — have been tied up since she passed in 2007.  The fighting was so extensive that it dragged in a “who’s who” of top New York City institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library, Rockefeller University, and even the United Nations, among many others.

Under Astor’s 2002 will, her only son, Anthony Marshall, stood to inherit tens of millions of dollars, with most of it slated to pass to charity after he died.  But Marshall wanted much more.  He and a lawyer,  Francis X. Morrissey, Jr., convinced the elderly Astor — when she was suffering from dementia — to sign a series of codicils to Astor’s 2002 will.  These codicils would have allowed Marshall to leave much of Astor’s fortune to whomever he wanted (specifically, his younger wife, whom Astor reportedly detested) instead of to charity.

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L'Oreal Heiress, Liliane Bettencourt, Subject to Guardianship

The second richest woman in the world, Liliane Bettencourt, has been declared mentally unfit to manage her affairs by a Judge in France a few days ago.  The decision grants control of her financial affairs to her only child, daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, and grandsons Jean-Victor and Nicolas.  Bettencourt-Meyers has been fighting for years to protect her 88-year old mother, who has been victim to financial exploitation to the tune of more than one billion dollars, according to an earlier lawsuit.  Liliane Bettencourt

Bettencourt suffers from “mixed dementia” and “moderately severe” Alzheimer’s disease, according to a medical report relied on by the Judge in making her decision.  Her mental decline sparked a family court fight.  It began three years ago when Bettencourt-Meyers started a lawsuit to protect her mother from photographer Francois-Marie Banier, who she claimed had charmed the elder Bettencourt out of assets worth almost one billion euros (about 1.4 billion dollars).  She also named Banier as sole heir in a new will and as beneficiary to vast life insurance policies.

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