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Bill Davidson Estate In $2 Billion War With IRS

Bill Davidson, the late owner of the Detroit Pistons, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Guardian Industries — one of the country’s largest private companies — had a reputation for being aggressive.  The Pistons aggressively built two championship teams under his watch and was inducted into the NBA’s Hall of Fame in 2008.  His businesses thrived through his management.  But the IRS now says Bill Davidson was too aggressive in his tax-reducing estate planning techniques.  Bill Davidson with Isiah Thomas

The IRS recently filed a petition in US Tax Court in Washington, D.C., claiming that Bill Davidson Estate owes up to two billion dollars in taxes.  Yes, that’s two Billion — with a capital “B”.  How could any individual rack up such a large tax bill?

Davidson, like many wealthy people who worry about estate taxes, gave away assets through gifts, trusts, and other transfers to his wife and other family members.  The IRS says that he undervalued the worth of these assets.  They feel his reported net worth of around $3 billion was really much higher — perhaps in the neighborhood of the $5.5 billion figure that Forbes reported his new worth to be in 2008.

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Learn From Celebrity Estate Planning Mistakes

As two lawyers who have written about celebrity estates for years and hosted the national television special Trial and Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune! on PBS affiliates, we’ve noticed that stars often make the same big mistakes as people with very modest assets. It’s just the dollar amounts that differ.   Amy_Winehouse_in_2007

Learn from their goofs and avoid repeating them yourself. That way, you’ll protect your loved ones and be sure your inheritance wishes are carried out.

These are the top four estate-planning mistakes made by celebs — errors you’ll want to avoid:

 1. No will. Most of us naturally want to be sure our assets are distributed properly after we pass away, so it’s surprising that almost two-thirds of adults don’t even have simple wills. Whether you have millions of dollars or just a modest estate, estate planning is critical — starting with a will.

Unfortunately for the family of Amy Winehouse, the singer didn’t have a will when she unexpectedly passed away at age 27, leaving behind a $6.7 million estate.

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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: MyFoxDETROIT.com

 

 

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   


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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National Television Show Will Help Protect Family Fortunes

After months and months of preparation, this weekend we taped our television show, Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune!  Our show will premiere in Michigan on August 9th at 8 p.m. EST and air on PBS affiliates around the country in November and December.  PBS will also stream the broadcast online for the premiere, through UStream.tv, so that everyone would have an opportunity to view the show in August.   Danielle-Andy-film-their-national-TV-special-300x225

The taping included our show with a live studio audience (they were wonderful!), DVD extras from the two of us, and an interview with Ray Charles, Jr.

Ray shared some touching stories about his famous father as well as the private pain that his father’s estate has caused his family.  Ray’s full interview, including some never-before-told stories, will be available as one of the DVD extras.

We share some behind-the-scenes pictures from our production on our Trial & Heirs Facebook page.  If you’re not already a member of our Facebook page, make sure to “like” it so that you receive the latest from us!

Andy and Danielle with Ray Charles, Jr. Our television special is based on our book, Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! In the show, we use high-profile celebrity stories, like Sonny Bono, Marlon Brando, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and James Brown, to educate people about wills, trusts and estate planning. The TV special will also help raise money to support the wonderful cause of public television, which needs pledge donations now more than ever with federal funding cuts.

With different pledge amounts, viewers can receive the DVD of the show with DVD extras from us as well as our full interview with Ray; a copy of our book, Trial & Heirs; and our brand new Estate Planning Organizer to help you, your family, and your clients.

We hope that all of you join us for the exciting premiere of Trial & Heirs:  Protect Your Family Fortune! on WTVS Channel 56 and UStream.tv, August 9th at 8pm EST!

By Danielle and Andy Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, husband-and-wife legacy expert attorneys, and hosts of the national TV special, Trial & Heirs:  Protect Your Family Fortune! The charismatic duo has appeared on the Rachael Ray Show, Forbes, ABC’s Live Well Network, and FOX and NBC affiliates.  They’ve lent their expertise and analysis to hundreds of media sources, including The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Kiplinger, and The Washington Post, among many others.  Danielle and Andy delight audiences nationwide with highly entertaining and informative presentations, dishing the dirt on celebrity estate battles while dispensing important legal information to help people avoid family fights among their heirs.

For the latest celebrity and high-profile cases, with tips to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your clients, subscribe to The Trial and Heirs Update at www.TrialandHeirs.com.

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Should Leona Helmsley's Billions Help Dogs As She Wanted?

Leona Helmsley, widely regarded as the “Queen of Mean” before she died at age 87 in 2007, left behind a fortune valued by some to be worth four to eight billion dollars. She earmarked twelve million dollars to take care of her dog, Trouble, until the Judge reduced it to a paltry two million. Leona Helmsley with dog

Helmsley left most of the remainder of her billions to charity, specifically directing that her trustees were to use their discretion for what charitable purposes to benefit. But she also signed a Mission Statement that instructed the trustees to exercise that discretion first for “purposes related to the provision of care for dogs” and, only secondly, for “such other charitable activities as the Trustees shall determine.”

According to published reports, the trustees of Leona Helmsley’s trust have only given away 100,000 dollars to dog-related charities, out of the 450 million dollars they’ve donated so far to charity. That’s only about one-fiftieth of one percent!

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Whitney Houston's Battle vs. Step-Mom Rages On Through Appeal

While Whitney Houston was reportedly just admitted to rehab, she has one other concern that she still has to face — her no-holds-barred court fight with her late father’s widow.  Whitney Houston Trial & Heirs

In Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, Andy and Danielle Mayoras discuss the lawsuit involving Whitney Houston against Barbara Houston over a one million dollar life insurance policy. 

You can read about Whitney’s battle against her “step-mother”, including how Whitney used the public lawsuit to attack Barbara Houston and her relationship with Whitney’s father, in this excerpt from Trial & Heirs that was featured on The Huffington Post.

The case has now moved on to the Court of Appeals after Whitney scored a big victory in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey late in 2010. The Judge ruled in her favor, even though he first discussed multiple letters sent between various of Whitney Houston’s accountants and attorneys; several letters validated Barbara Houston’s claim.

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