Legendary Figures Feed

As Prince Harry Inherits From Diana's Estate, Troubling Questions Remain

Prince Harry celebrated his 30th birthday earlier this week. His mother, the iconic Princess Diana, passed away over 17 years ago, following the tragic crash as Diana and Dodi Fayed sped away from paparazzi in France.  What was so special about Harry’s 30th birthday (other than the fact that he’s still single, to the delight of eligible women throughout England)?  That’s the day Harry became entitled to receive the remaining half of Princess Diana’s assets.   Prince Harry

After Diana passed on August 31, 1997, her mother, Frances Ruth Shand Kydd, and her sister, Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia McCorquodale, became executors of her Estate, based on Diana’s last will and testament dated June 1, 1993 (amended through a codicil in 1996).  The probate filings at the time showed that Diana left behind assets valued at around £21 million (or worth about 31.5 million in USD at the time), netting £17 million after inheritance taxes.  Originally, the will called for these assets to be held in trust for Diana’s sons, Princes William and Harry, until they turned 25.

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Will Nelson Mandela's Heirs Tarnish His Legacy Through Greed And Fighting?

Nelson Mandela left behind an unparalleled legacy of peace, dignity, and selflessness.  If early reports are accurate, some of  his children and grandchildren don't exactly subscribe to the same value system.   When you think of the man who spent 27 years in jail to bring down apartheid, do you think of clothing lines, reality TV shows, or a wine label?  Probably not.  But those are a few of the ways that Mandela's heirs have used his name to profit.  Nelson_Mandela-2008

So perhaps it was no surprise that his children and grandchildren began fighting, even before the South African champion of equal rights passed.  Mandela's eldest grandson, Mandla Mandela, was accused of shady maneuvering, hoping to make his gravesite into a profitable tourist attraction.  This summer, the New York Times reported that Mandla was sued by other Mandela family members because he felt, as the eldest grandchild, he should decide where Nelson Mandela should be laid to rest.

The problem?  Mandla's dream of a tourist site built around the body of his grandfather wasn't what Nelson Mandela wanted.  In 1996, Mandela created a hand-written will saying he wanted to be buried in his ancestral home, the remote village of Qunu.   Three of his children had died before him and were already buried there ... that is, they were until Mandla decided to uproot them and move them to another village, Mvezo, so he could create a Mandela family burial site. Other family members successfully sued Mandla, forcing the bodies to be returned to Qunu, so that Mandela's wishes could be fulfilled.


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Duke Heirs Caught In Billion-Dollar Fortune Battle

How many people would jump at the chance to trade places with 15-year-old twins who stand to inherit one billion dollars in six years?  Don’t raise your hands too fast.  

Doris Duke

Georgia Inman and Walker Patterson Inman III would seemingly have a charmed life, being the only living heirs to the Duke family fortune.  That’s right — Duke, as in Doris Duke, Duke University, and Duke EnergyCorporation.Yet Georgia and Walker were recently suspended from a private school in Utah for about $25,000 in unpaid tuition and late fees.  Perhaps one billion dollars doesn’t buy as much as it used to.

The sad reality is that Georgia and Walker have spent most of their lives caught in the middle of various legal battles. Their mother is Daisha Inman, who now has custody of them.  She’s been battling in court against JPMorgan Chase for the last several months over the twins’ trust funds.

The twins’ late father, Walker P. Inman, Jr., was Doris Duke’s nephew.  During his divorce proceedings with Daisha, he reported to a court that Georgia and Walker would inherit around one billion dollars when they turn 21.

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Are You Better Prepared Than Abraham Lincoln Was?

Less than four weeks since its release, the movie Lincoln already has earned nearly $84 million at the box office.  Chronicling Abraham Lincoln’s historic efforts to abolish slavery, the movie has garnered widespread critical and audience appeal.   300px-Abraham_Lincoln

At Trial & Heirs, however, we can’t help but think of another aspect of Abraham Lincoln’s life … he is one of the most notable examples of someone dying without a will.  This got us thinking, and digging. What did happen to Lincoln’s estate after he died?

According to a series of bulletins issued from the Abraham Lincoln Association, his family was understandably overcome with grief.  By noon on the day he died, April 15, 1865, Lincoln’s oldest son, Robert, sent a telegram to Justice David Davis of the United States Supreme Court.  Davis was a close friend of Lincoln and Robert considered Davis to be a “second father,” according to a letter Robert wrote years later.  The telegram said, “Please come at once to Washington to take charge of my father’s affairs.  Answer.”

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Epic Copyright Battle Between Superman Heirs and Warner Bros

What would it be like if you had to fight Superman?  You may be thinking, "Superman is the hero, so why would he fight me?"  Work with us for a minute.  After all, when the concept of "Superman" was first developed, he was a villain and not a hero.  Superman_Man_of_Steel_125

Imagine for a moment going mano-a-mano against the Man of Steel.  Just regular, mortal you against a brightly-garbed warrior who has super-strength, can fly, is faster than a speeding bullet, and has only one weakness.  It doesn't sound like much fun.  It would seem rather hopeless ... unless you had some Kryptonite in your back pocket.

The heirs of the two co-creators of the legendary comic book hero must feel just as hopeless at times in their fight over what they feel is "truth, justice and the American way."  They have been battling the powerful media conglomerates, Warner Bros. and DC Comics, for many years in a series of (seemingly) never-ending lawsuits.  The heirs claim entitlement to full ownership of the Superman copyrights.

Warner Bros. and DC Comics say the heirs never owned the rights and the two corporations have nothing wrong.  Their position is that even if the heirs did have valid claims at one time, the heirs agreed to let Warner and DC keep the copyrights in exchange for increased royalty payments and other compensation.

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Rosa Parks' Legacy Stained By Court Feud, Accusations Of Corruption

Fighting over estates is never pretty.  These court battles are emotional, draining, and sometimes downright nasty for everyone involved.  When they happen to the estate of a beloved American icon, it’s even more tragic.  300px-Rosaparks8

Rosa Parks’ Estate has been embroiled in fighting since not long after she died on October 24, 2005 at the age of 92 in Detroit, Michigan.  You can read about the long history of the court battle, which we summarized in this Trial & Heirs article.  In short, the Michigan Supreme Court restored the rights of the primary beneficiaries to Rosa Parks’ estate plan, years after the probate court judge ordered that their rights had been forfeited.  Finally, it seemed that the fighting had reached its end.

Instead, the battle actually turned uglier than before.  The attorney representing those beneficiaries who rights were recently restored — Rosa Parks’ friend Elaine Steele and the charitable institute that Rosa Parks had created, which Steele operates — went on the attack again.  He took the highly-unusual step of suing the probate judge who oversees the Rosa Parks Estate, Hon. Freddie Burton, and the two lawyers whom the Judge had appointed to administer the Estate, John Chase, Jr. and Melvin Jefferson. 

In doing so, Steele’s attorney accused them of cronyism, corruption, over-charging the Estate and more.  The attorney issued a press release about it and the allegations received widespread press coverage nationally, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, ABC News, and many others.  Steele’s attorney went on a Detroit-area radio show and openly discussed how he felt that Judge Burton, Chase and Jefferson were corrupt and engaged in a conspiracy.  He even said he believed the Judge was taking bribes.  The attorney promised to have Judge Burton removed from the case and accused him of refusing to “give up his corrupt ways.”

Judge Burton dismissed the allegations Steele’s attorney raised and refused to step down from the case.  His decision not to disqualify himself was upheld by the chief judge of the Wayne County Probate Court.  Steele appealed the decision, and the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal.  Steele will likely appeal again.

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Eliza Presley's Lawsuit Is Back In Court

We've written extensively about the efforts by Eliza Presley to prove that she is half-sister to Elvis Presley and daughter to Vernon Presley, based on DNA and other evidence.  Much of this same evidence also supports Eliza's claim that Elvis Presley is actually alive.  You can get caught up to speed starting here, if you haven't followed this case before.  Elvis_Presley_promoting_Jailhouse_Rock

It's been more than a year since we last wrote that Eliza's case was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.  This meant that the court in which she filed her lawsuit was not able to hear the case; rather, the case had to go to a different court. Because of this and other legal hurdles, Eliza has never had her "day in court" to present her evidence to a judge or jury.

As we wrote then, Eliza was at the end of her road -- emotionally and financially -- and was not able to continue with the case.  Trying to re-write the history books, which is what Eliza was literally trying to do, is no easy task.  This is especially true when there are those who will go to extraordinary means to try to stop her.

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