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Mickey Rooney's Estate Finds Peace, But Will It Last?

A mere five days after the Hollywood acting legend passed away in his sleep at the age of 93, the family of Mickey Rooney was set to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom to fight over where he should be buried. Just hours before the court hearing, the estate reached a settlement — hopefully putting an end to the troubling feud that surrounded Rooney’s family the last few years.  Mickey_rooney_2000-300x267

On one hand, Rooney’s family fight should not be viewed as surprising. What else would be expected when a Hollywood icon dies with a new will disinheriting all nine of his children (from eight different marriages), his wife, and all of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren? But a closer look shows how this family feud was far from the typical inheritance squabble we often see when famous people die.

Mickey Rooney‘s estate is reported to be worth a mere $18,000 at this point. While his successful acting career spanned more than 80 years, most of Rooney’s starring roles occurred during the movie industry’s “old studio system.” So Rooney’s estate is not in line to receive much in the way of royalties, despite the fact he was the highest-paid actor of the late 1930′s to early 40′s.

 

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Release Of Anthony Marshall, Brooke Astor's Son, From Prison Is An Insult

The New York Department of Corrections decided recently to release Anthony Marshall from prison, only eight weeks into his one-to-three year prison sentence for committing fraud and a host of other crimes in taking advantage of his elderly mother, Brooke Astor.  Given how few crimes of financial exploitation of the elderly are actually prosecuted, it's a sad message to send.  Anthony-Marshall-2013

The New York District Attorney's office spent six months in trial and many millions to prosecute Anthony Marshall and his accomplice, attorney Francis X. Morrissey Jr., in 2009.  Facing enormous odds trying to prove an 85-year old multi-millionaire illegally exploited his mother, they secured a conviction for 14 counts out of 16, for financial exploitation, fraud, and a host of related crimes.

Immediately, Marshall began raising legal challenges and appeals pleading poor health and his advanced age as a reason to avoid the consequences of his crime.  Judge after judge rejected each one, finally landing the criminal in jail on June 21st.

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Anna Nicole Smith's Case Makes A Comeback

It’s now, officially, the Estate Fight That Refuses To Die!  The quest for money started by Anna Nicole Smith — the former Playboy Playmate, stripper, TV reality star, and the true love of 89-year old Texas oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall — is not over.  Despite almost 18 years of litigation, two trips to the United States Supreme Court, and untold millions of dollars spent on legal fees, the Anna Nicole Smith case lives on.   Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole Smith (a/k/a Vickie Lynn Marshall) sued after her elderly husband died, following their 14-month marriage.  She was not happy being left out of his massive ($1.6 billion) estate.  She blamed one of his sons, Pierce Marshall, who inherited everything.

The probate case started in Louisiana and then moved to Texas.  Smith sued there, but was forced to file bankruptcy in California.  When she did, Pierce sued her, filing a claim in bankruptcy court.  He claimed Smith defamed him by telling the media he committed fraud in managing his father’s estate. Smith counter-sued, alleging he really did commit fraud.  She also requested millions of dollars based on what, she claimed, J. Howard would have given her if Pierce had not wrongly interfered and stopped it.

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Kim Kardashian Settles Divorce Case With Kris Humphries

Not many people -- even celebrities -- can claim a record as impressive as Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.  The marriage:  72 days.  The divorce:  536 days.  But, it's finally over.   Kim_kardashian_kris_humphries_wedding 2

And according to reports, it was Kris Humphries who caved at the last minute to settle the case, just weeks ahead of the May 6 trial date.  Per TMZ, Humphries had been demanding either an annulment based on fraud or a $7 million pay-out.

So why the change of heart for Humphries?  For one, it's seldom easy to prove a case of fraud in court.  It's easy to claim fraud, but in divorce, civil, and probate cases alike, actually finding the goods to prove fraud is not easy.  Humphries' lawyers tried, conducting many depositions and digging through extensive records.  Reportedly, they did not find enough proof that Kim Kardashian tricked Humphries into the marriage or staged it only for publicity.

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Michael Jackson's Siblings Promise New Fight Over His Estate

Michael Jackson's estate faced a tumultuous beginning three years ago after he unexpectedly died.  First his mother, Katherine, and then his father, Joe, filed challenges against the executors of his Estate, John Branca and John McClain.   Katherine backed off her attack and Joe's case was thrown out of court.   300px-Michael_Jackson_Cannescropped3

Since then, the Estate has been relatively peaceful, at least on the surface.  Branca and McClain have led the Estate from a debt-ridden start to enormous profits.  They began around $500 million in the red when the King of Pop died.  Three years later, the Estate reported $475 million in profits.

Of course, Branca and McClain have enjoyed a huge financial windfall from this as well.  They have a special arrangement, blessed by the probate judge who oversees the estate, allowing them to earn 10% from most deals they cut for the Estate.  Branca and McClain are now facing a new attack over their handling of the Estate.

Several of Michael's brothers and sisters -- including Janet, Randy, Tito and Jermaine -- signed a letter that they sent to Branca and McClain accusing the pair of fraud, forgery, exploitation and abuse.  The letter was published on a celebrity gossip website recently.

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Samsung Billionaire Accused of Stealing Millions From Late Father's Trust

The chairman of the Samsung Group, Lee Kun-hee, comes in at number 106 on Forbes’ list of the world’s top billionaires, with a reported net worth of $8.3 billion, as of March. But did he acquire some of that fortune illegally from his late father’s trust?  That’s what his brother and sister accuse him of in a recent lawsuit that is growing uglier by the day.   Samsung chairman

In February, Kun-hee’s older brother, Lee Maeng-hee, filed the suit in Seoul, South Korea. Now joined by two other family members, the lawsuit claims that when their father, Samsung Group founder Lee Byung-chull, died in 1987, he left millions of shares in Samsung Life Insurance (the world’s 14th largest insurance company) as well as preferred stock in Samsung Electronics and cash, in trust.  Specifically, he placed the asset into the name of Samsung executives for the benefit of his family.  Lee Kun-hee then wrongfully took the stock and cash and transferred it into his own name, rather than dividing it among the heirs as he was supposed to, according to the allegations.

The U.S. value of the stock is around $877 million.  If Kun-hee loses, it could potentially cause him to lose his controlling interest in the  Samsung Group, which controls dozens of companies, including Samsung Electronics.

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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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