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Celebrity Legacies: No Easy Ride For Dennis Hopper's Estate

When is a divorce more than just a divorce?  When famed actor Dennis Hopper battled through an ugly divorce against his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper, the battle was more about Dennis Hopper's estate than anything else.  So perhaps no one should be surprised that the war turned uglier once Dennis died.  Easy-rider-dennis-hopper

This is installment #15 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.

The Easy Rider star had anything but an easy ride during the last few months of his life.  He passed away from cancer at age 73, smack-dab in the middle of his divorce war with Victoria, who was actually six years younger than Dennis Hopper's oldest daughter.

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Celebrity Legacies: Blurred Lines Surround Marvin Gaye Estate

There's nothing like a hit song to keep heirs dancing down the road to the bank -- even when that song wasn't written, composed, or sung by the celebrity singer who died.  Marvin Gaye and Robin Thicke

The heirs of Marvin Gaye hit it big with a judgment against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for copyright infringement based on their chart-topping song Blurred Lines ... but will the  victory stand up on appeal?  And what exactly does this mean for the Marvin Gaye Estate?

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.

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Top 5 Legal Challenges Facing Michael Jackson's Estate Executors

Many people never stop to think of how hard a job it is to administer the estate or trust of someone who passes away.  Often, it's a thankless job, filled with headaches.  That's certainly been the case for the Michael Jackson Estate executors:  entertainment attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain.  Well, at least the headache part.  Michael_Jackson_Cannescropped5

Here are the top 5 legal challenges and complications that the estate executors have had to worry about in the last few months alone:

1.  The AEG Wrongful Death Trial:  It's a Thriller!

Now nearing the five-month mark since opening statements, the heirs of Michael Jackson vs. AEG trial has been filled with twists and turns,
from Lionel Richie's ex talking to the King of Pop's ghost to Jackson's childhood friendship with a mouse (as revealed by the Rolling Stone).

Where is the case now?  Heading to the jury.  While many in the media were quick to report how the Judge recently dismissed two AEG executives from the case, a more telling ruling came down at the same time.  As reported by CNN:

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Dennis Hopper estate battle moving into high gear

It's ironic that the estate of the actor made famous through the movie Easy Rider is proving to be anything but an easy ride.  On one side sits Dennis Hopper's fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper.  On the other sit his trustees and children, spearheaded by daughter Marin Hopper.  Marin is the oldest daughter and is five years older than her "step-mother".  Think there's some bad blood there?  Dennis-Hopper

You bet there is.  Before Hopper died, he filed for divorce.  His wife claimed this move was driven by his children in an effort to cut her out of his estate plan.  According to the couple's prenuptial agreement, if they were divorced or no longer living together, then she would not inherit 25% of his estate and life insurance worth $250,000.

At first, it was reported that Duffy-Hopper would argue that they were still living together because the judge in their divorce case permitted her to remain on the same property with him, but in separate houses.  That was clearly an uphill battle.  It would have been a real stretch to call that "living together."

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It's baaaack ... The Anna Nicole Smith Case

It has to rank as one of the craziest, lengthiest and most-watched probate litigation court cases of all time.  It officially started as Vicki Lynn Marshall (a/k/a Anna Nicole Smith) vs. E. Pierce Marshall (son and sole beneficiary of the late oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall).  Anna-Nicole-Smith-Estate-Trial-and-Heirs

Originally, the Smith team won an $88 million against her "step-son", Pierce, but that victory was taken away by the Court of Appeals, which ended the fight.  That is, it was over until the United States Supreme Court ruled in Smith's favor and reinstated the case.

Then Pierce died, followed by Anna Nicole Smith.  But, just because they both passed away doesn't mean the fighting stopped!  Their two estates have continued to battle over the billions left behind by Smith's 90-year-old husband, 15 years after he died.

Then, this past March, the Court of Appeals again threw out the case (on a different legal ground).  Once again Smith's estate, with the infamous Howard K. Stern at the helm, asked the Supreme Court to step in and review the Court of Appeals' decision.

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The crazy claims of the Michael Jackson Estate

Given MJ's eccentricities in life, and the craziness that has surrounded his estate since he died, it is no surprise that Michael Jackson's estate executors are busy denying wild claims left and right.  Michael Jackson Trial and Heirs

TMZ has a list of the wackiest ones:

  • Jose Freddie Vallejos asked for $3.3 million to reimburse Los Angeles for the costs of the King of Pop's memorial service.
  • A homeschooler, Claire McMillan, is seeking $2 million.
  • Michael, according to Nona Paris Lola Ankhesenamun Jackson (try saying that three times fast), was actually married to her, so Nona of course wants custody of the three kids.
  • Richard Lapointe claimed he's owed $5 million for a memorabilia auction that was wrongly canceled.
  • And, best of all, a woman is convinced that Jackson wiretapped her telephone and had organized criminals watch her.  She wants a mere $50 million.

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