Sofia Vergara Lawsuit Teaches Lesson For Couples Using IVF

It began with an anonymous court filing pitting “John Doe” against “Jane Doe.”  It didn’t take long for Jane and John to be identified publicly as Modern Family‘s Sofia Vergara and creator of the Onion Crunch, Nick Loeb.  Formerly engaged to be married, the ex-couple now is heading to court battling against each other over what could be a drawn-out debate involving the fundamental question:  When does life begin?   Sofia Vergara Chris Loeb

Loeb’s attorney vows that he is committed to the battle, which may become “the first test case for Pro-Parenthood.”  Vergara seeks to defend her honor and wants nothing more to do with her ex.  Her lawyer said Loeb’s claims are “uncredible and hold no merit.”

What's at stake?  Control over two female frozen embryos, held in a Beverly Hills fertility center.  When Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb were engaged, they decided to use in vitro fertilization and a gestational surrogate to have a baby.  Their first efforts failed when two prior embryos did not successfully implant in the woman they chose to carry the baby to term.  Vergara and Loeb tried a second time, again leading to the creation of two viable embryos.  Before the new embryos could be implanted in a different surrogate, the couple called off their engagement.

Continue reading "Sofia Vergara Lawsuit Teaches Lesson For Couples Using IVF" »


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.

Continue reading "Celebrity Legacies: Blurred Lines Surround Marvin Gaye Estate" »


"Was He A Hero?" And Other Questions Surround Chris Kyle's Estate - The American Sniper

As the movie, American Sniper, enjoys box office success, questions and controversies surround the estate of Chris Kyle.  One of his biggest critics is Jesse Ventura, the always-outspoken former professional wrestler and potential presidential candidate. Ventura recently explained in an interview with Howard Stern on SiriusXM that "Chris Kyle is not a hero. A hero must have an honor, and a liar has no honor." Ventura feels that Kyle had a talent for shooting straight, but was merely doing his job and does not deserve hero status.   Chris Kyle

Jesse Ventura has not been the only one to question the hero label placed on Chris Kyle. Bill Maher, Seth Rogan, Michael Moore and others have also made comments questioning the glorification of Chris Kyle in the movie, while Howard Stern, Sarah Palin, Rupert Murdoch and others have defended his hero status. Ventura, however, has been the most vocal about the topic -- perhaps because his view of Chris Kyle is personal.

Continue reading ""Was He A Hero?" And Other Questions Surround Chris Kyle's Estate - The American Sniper" »


Could Feud Over Saints Owner Tom Benson Happen In Your Family?

Yes, Tom Benson has a great deal more money and power than most of us.  How much?  Try $1.9 billion, according to the annual Forbes rankings.  Indeed, there are only 350 richer people in the whole country.  The successful owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, Benson built a wide-ranging empire of car dealerships, banks, various real estate holdings, and a television station.  He still actively participates in running his businesses — most of all his beloved Saints.  Tom-Benson-Saints-300x203

But for all of his wealth, prestige, and status, Tom Benson is in the midst of the same type of probate-related court battle that entangles many elderly individuals in our country.  Some of Benson’s heirs do not believe the 87-year-old is mentally competent to make his own decisions any more.  They are seeking to have him declared legally incompetent and protect him from what they claim is undue influence.

Continue reading "Could Feud Over Saints Owner Tom Benson Happen In Your Family?" »


Should Caregiver of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, Inherit His Fortune?

Widely beloved throughout the world of baseball, especially in Chicago, Ernie Banks -- a/k/a Mr. Cub -- rose from humble beginnings.  He began his career earning seven dollars a day in the Negro Leagues, before crossing the color barrier and becoming the Chicago Cubs’ most popular player ever.  Ernie Banks

After his playing career, Banks has been widely respected as a positive role model in baseball and beyond.  He continued to break new ground, becoming the first African-American Ford Motor Company dealer ever and being actively involved in charity work throughout his life after baseball.  In 2013, President Obama awarded Banks the National Congressional Medal of Honor.

Ernie Banks died on January 23rd at age 83 from a heart condition.  Interestingly, his death certificate listed dementia as a "significant condition contributing" to his death.  Why is this important?

Continue reading "Should Caregiver of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, Inherit His Fortune?" »


Celebrity Legacies: Marlon Brando's Estate Marred by Dozens of Lawsuits

Unquestionably, Marlon Brando was one of the leading actors of the 20th century.  The well-known Godfather was always in firm control ... until it came to his estate that is.  Marlon_Brando_The_Wild_One-225x300

This is installment #12 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.

Marlon Brando never followed convention.  He won his Oscar for Best Actor in 1973 for The Godfather, but Brando rejected the award as a protest to the treatment of Native Americans by the film industry.  Too bad he failed to follow the norms when it came to estate planning.

In part due to questions about his true intentions as expressed in his will and trust, Marlon Brando’s estate was involved in more than two dozens lawsuits by 2009 — five years after his death.  He passed away on July 1, 2004, at 80 years of age, suffering from a host of ailments including dementia and lung failure.

Continue reading "Celebrity Legacies: Marlon Brando's Estate Marred by Dozens of Lawsuits" »


Celebrity Legacies: Elizabeth Taylor's Estate Sets Gold Standard

Elizabeth Taylor is known for many things: her successful acting career, recognition as perhaps the ultimate icon of Hollywood glitz and glamour, standing up as a champion for AIDS research, her popular perfume, and, of course, her string of failed marriages.  Elizabeth_Taylor

Failed nuptials aside, almost everything Liz Taylor touched turned to gold.  But what about her estate? Did she prepare her estate with the same high standards as the rest of her life?

This is installment #11 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.

Despite early reports that Taylor's family may fight over her estate, her estate has been just the opposite:  peaceful.  No probate filing, no copies of her will or trust published on the web, and no court battles.

Continue reading "Celebrity Legacies: Elizabeth Taylor's Estate Sets Gold Standard" »