The Huffington Post recently ran this article featuring an excerpt from Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!
Whitney Houston is no stranger to family fights in court. In 2002, the entertainment company owned by her father, John Houston, sued her. John Houston said publicly that his company was owed $100 million and he expected his daughter to repay it. He died in February of 2003, and the case was dismissed not long thereafter. Reportedly, Whitney Houston did not attend her father’s funeral service or burial.
John’s wife, Barbara, filed her own lawsuit against Whitney in December of 2008. Whitney was the sole beneficiary of a $1 million life insurance policy of her late father.
In my prior article about the Steve McNair Estate, I explained how the former NFL star apparently died without a will. I also warned of a possible probate court dispute because his widow did not list his two children from a prior relationship as heirs in the probate court filing.
This raised a huge red flag because, under Tennessee's intestate law, they are entitled to approximately one-third of his assets that pass through probate court. There was no good reason to omit them from the probate documents unless McNair's widow was considering challenging their right to inherit as legitimate children of the murdered quarterback.
McNair's agent recently addressed these concerns in an interview with the Associated Press carried on ESPN.com. James "Bus" Cook said that Mechelle McNair (the widow) is not trying to exclude the two older children, but didn't list them because she didn't have proof they were actually his kids.
Cook reported that the proof had later been provided, meaning that she would recognize them as legitimate heirs and they would inherit. He cited "well-documented legal history in Mississippi" as the source of the proof. In legal proceedings there, McNair was apparently ordered to provide child support. Cook notes McNair paid support over and above what was ordered.
In a prior blog post, I discussed the lawsuit by Whitney Houston's step-mother against her. Barbara Houston sued Whitney trying to recover life insurance proceeds left to Whitney by her father. Barbara claimed the insurance was supposed to pay off a mortgage on her house that Whitney held. Barbara argued Whitney failed to turn over the money or release the mortgage.
Court records at the time showed that the parties were negotiating to try to settle. Apparently those efforts filed. In fact, Whitney not only defended the claims filed by Barbara, but she counter-sued as well.
Whitney claims that she lent her father lots of money, and even paid him as an employee. Whitney says the insurance was paid to her to repay other sums of money, not the mortgage. In fact, Whitney's counter-suit demands repayment of the mortgage, with interest, for a sum of more than 1.6 million dollars.
But what is most interesting about this case isn't the suit or counter-suit; rather it's the way Whitney chose to air her grievances against her "step-mother" in a public lawsuit. Her counterclaim includes the following statements:
Some of the more interesting probate family feuds involve life insurance. Think that rich celebrities don't get involved in court fights like this? Think again!
Whitney Houston's father died in February 2003. He had a one million dollar life insurance policy for which she was the beneficiary. Almost six years after he died, Whitney's stepmother, Barbara Houston, sued Whitney claiming that the life insurance money was actually for her benefit.
Her attorney alleges that Whitney had agreed with her father that the money would be used to pay off a mortgage that Whitney held over John and Barbara Houston’s home. Apparently, Whitney lent her father $723,000 in 1990 and this loan was secured by a mortgage against his house, payable to Whitney. Barbara’s lawsuit claims that the life insurance was purchased to pay off this mortgage, and the remaining balance was to be turned over to Barbara.