Life Insurance Feed

Top 10 Celebrity Stories To Spark Holiday Estate Planning Conversations

Sure the holidays are a fun time for families to sit around talking about what happened on the latest episode of The Walking Dead or how granddaughter Mary is doing in dance class.  But they are also a great time to have the important -- yet often difficult -- conversations about estate planning.  What happens when Mom dies?  Does anyone know where Dad kept his will?  Did they ever transfer the investment accounts into their revocable living trust like they were supposed to?   Walking dead

Many families don't ask these tough questions ... especially when dynamics are strained, like in many second-marriage families or when siblings don't get along well.  It certainly isn't easy to blurt out after passing the gravy, "Hey Dad, does your will put me or your wife in charge of your estate?"

But these conversations are important.  When the proper estate planning isn't done, it's the family members left behind who pay the price, often with bitter, ugly, and costly probate court battles.  They happen to families all across the country on a daily basis, from those of modest wealth to the very rich.

Continue reading "Top 10 Celebrity Stories To Spark Holiday Estate Planning Conversations" »

Mick Jagger Can't Get No Satisfaction; Ugly Lawsuit Settles

It's rough being Mick Jagger sometimes.  Even as the front man for the famed Rolling Stones, he Can't Always Get What he Wants.  But when he tries, at least sometimes, he  just might find ... that he gets what he needs.  These days, what Sir Mick (as he is known officially in England) truly needs is some peace and quiet ... and a little privacy.  Is it too much to ask to Get Off of his Cloud?  Mick Jagger

Sir Mick took a beating in the media last week when a lawsuit that he had hoped to keep quiet became very public.  That is what often happens with lawsuits involving those in the public eye, especially in this digital age. In many courts across the country -- federal courts especially, but more and more probate and other states courts too -- anyone who knows how to track down the electronic court records and is willing to pay a small cost can read all the juicy details about court battles from the comforts of their own home.

Continue reading "Mick Jagger Can't Get No Satisfaction; Ugly Lawsuit Settles" »

Whitney Houston Denies She's Broke; Wins Lawsuit Vs. Step-Mom

Celebrity gossip websites ran a story last week claiming that Whitney Houston is “broke as a joke.”  They even quoted an unnamed (of course) source claiming that Whitney would be homeless if not for the generosity of friends. She called someone to ask for $100, the story goes.  If true, that would be quite a fall from financial grace for the singer who signed a $100 million record deal in 2001.  Whitney_Houston_Didnt_We_Almost

Whitney’s camp quickly denied the rumors and says they are “false and ridiculous“.  Her rep points out that she just made a movie called Sparkle, with Jordin Sparks, and she didn’t work for free.

If Whitney is in need of money, she has another source she can pursue.  Don’t be surprised to see Whitney Houston foreclose on her step-mother’s home soon.

Continue reading "Whitney Houston Denies She's Broke; Wins Lawsuit Vs. Step-Mom" »

Michael Jackson Estate Faces $17.5 Million Insurance Fight

Legal controversy has surrounded the Estate of Michael Jackson ever since he died almost two years ago. Trial & Heirs did a year in review article last year; it’s almost time for year two. You can now add a new lawsuit — over $17.5 million worth of insurance — to the list. Michael Jackson 3

Concert promoter AEG Live took out the large insurance policy over Michael Jackson in case he died and was unable to perform the “This Is It” concert tour. Of course, that’s exactly what happened, showing that AEG was smart to take that precaution. Reportedly, AEG spent some $20 to $25 million on the tour before the King of Pop’s death, and this insurance was supposed to protect that investment. Both AEG and a Michael Jackson limited liability company that is controlled by the Estate were named as beneficiaries eligible to collect that money under the policy.

Continue reading "Michael Jackson Estate Faces $17.5 Million Insurance Fight" »

Forbes: Celebrity Death and Divorce Train Wrecks recently featured an article we wrote about our celebrity-based Trial & Heirs' Top Five Estate Planning Tips for Divorcees.  Here's a shortened version.  Go to for the full article: Forbes_home_logo

1. Update your will and/or trust. Life events like divorces are a critical time to update all estate planning documents with an experienced attorney.

Take the case of Gary Coleman.  Since his death, a variety of documents have surfaced purporting to be his will.  We know that Gary Coleman was divorced in 2008 from his wife, Shannon Price.  It was on an episode of Divorce Court after all!  The problem is that Price claims that she's entitled to inherit all of Coleman's assets based on a 2007 handwritten will and as his "common-law wife."  Now it looks like the estate will be tied up in a long and nasty fight.  If Gary Coleman had an estate planning attorney draft a clear will after his divorce, the impending legal battle may have been avoided.

Continue reading "Forbes: Celebrity Death and Divorce Train Wrecks" »

Dennis Hopper's wife to continue fight into probate court

The recent legal battles between the ailing Dennis Hopper and his wife in divorce court have been well-documented.  Here are the Probate Lawyer Blog's articles covering the case, including the Top Ten most hurtful allegations lobbed back and forth (a serious must-read!). Dennis_Hopper

Now that Hopper has passed on due to his prostate cancer, on May 29th, at age 74, is reporting that his widow is already gearing up to challenge his estate in probate court.  Victoria Duffy-Hopper claimed that Hopper's divorce filing was motivated by an effort to cut her out of his estate plan.

Reportedly, the couple's prenuptial agreement calls for her to get 25% of his estate and $250,000 in life insurance proceeds, as long as they were both married and living together.  Because the divorce was not finalized when he died, they were still married (even though they were separated).  But, were they living together?

Duffy-Hopper (according to TMZ) is prepared to challenge the prenup in probate court and will argue they were "living together" because she lived in a house on his property (separate from his house though).

Continue reading "Dennis Hopper's wife to continue fight into probate court" »

Did insurance fraud led to murder of an elderly woman?

The Stephen Hilbert family is well known in Indiana.  Hilbert founded insurance giant Conseco, which he ran until he was forced out because he owed the company hundreds of millions of dollars.  When the company sued Hilbert to collect the giant debt, he tried to hide behind a series of trusts to shelter his fortune.  Our book, Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!, includes the Hilbert story to highlight what trusts are not intended to be used for.

But now Stephen Hilbert and his family are in the news for a different reason.  Hilbert's mother-in-law, Germaine "Suzy" Tomlinson, died under very questionable circumstances on September 28, 2008 at age 74. 

Her death was ruled an accident.  Hilbert and his wife aren't so sure.  Tomlinson was found fully dressed, face down in her bathtub, where she had drowned after a late night of drinking at a night club.   [See picture which reportedly was taken the night before she died] Tomlinson

There was broken glass, a shelf knocked over and a broken faucet knob in the bathroom.  The coroner found no bruising but questions how the water was turned on.  Hilbert says it doesn't add up.

Here's where it gets really interesting ... there was a 15 million dollar life insurance policy on Tomlinson's life.  That's a big policy!  And who was the beneficiary named to receive this fortune?  It wasn't any of her family members.

Continue reading "Did insurance fraud led to murder of an elderly woman?" »