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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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The Controversy of Arturo Gatti's Death May Never End

Arturo-GattiArturo Gatti, the former world-champion boxer, died violently while on vacation in Brazil, in 2009.  His wife, Amanda Rodrigues Gatti, was arrested for murder, only to be released after the police ruled the death a suicide.  Now, almost four years later, Brazilian authorities have re-opened the investigation and the case may soon return to court.  

It’s the latest chapter in a long line of legal struggles that started after Arturo Gatti’s death.  Gatti’s mother, brother, and the mother of his first child have always believed that Rodrigues was responsible for his death.  Gatti was found strangled by Rodrigues’ purse strap, and she reportedly was in the room with his body for ten hours without realizing he was dead.

Rodrigues has consistently maintained that Gatti committed suicide.  She points out that autopsies have been done in both Brazil and Montreal — where the couple lived — and both determined that Gatti killed himself.

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Court Scolds SC Attorney General For Hijacking James Brown Estate

The battle over the estate of the Godfather of Soul started not long after James Brown died of heart failure and pneumonia on Christmas Day, 2006, at the age of 73.  Now, more than six years later, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that may finally lay the epic feud to rest.  

James Brown, February 1973, Musikhalle, Hamburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Brown left behind a detailed will and trust, dated August 1, 2000.  He wanted his personal and household effects divided between six adult children, the sum of two million dollars set aside in trust to pay for the education of his grandchildren, with the rest passing into a charitable trust.  Specifically, he directed that the majority of his assets would be used to pay education expenses and assistance to benefit poor children and young adults who attended schools in either South Carolina or Georgia.

Brown was both physically and mentally strong when he signed his estate planning documents.  His legal documents included clear instructions that he did not want anyone else to benefit, including past or future spouses, or others who may or may not be his children.  He directed his trustees to vigorously fight anyone who contested his wishes, and he considered any type of legal challenge to the validity of the documents as an affront to his wishes.

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Whitney Houston's Family Doesn't Trust Bobbi Kristina's Ability To Handle Money

Whitney Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, and sister-in-law, Marion Houston, filed a request in court to change the terms of Whitney Houston’s will.  They want to delay when Bobbi Kristina receives her inheritance in order to protect her.   Whitney_Houston_performing_on_GMA_2009_51

The will created a “testamentary trust” for Bobbi Kristina.  What is a testamentary trust?  It’s when a will calls for money to be held in trust for one or more beneficiaries, usually so they can receive money spaced out over time instead of all at once.  It’s far from perfect, as we discuss in this article, because a testamentary trust does not avoid probate, which can be expensive, messy and very public.

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Did Artist Thomas Kinkade Change His Will While Drunk?

It’s estimated that one in twenty American homes have a Thomas Kinkade painting hanging on the walls.  The self-named “Painter of Light” turned his gift of rendering landscapes and other words of art into a tremendous commercial endeavor.  In fact, his numerous corporate holdings reportedly topped $100 million in annual sales some years, primarily due to mass reproduction of his works.   Thomas Kinkade

But the Painter of Light was not without his demons, primarily alcoholism and a failed marriage.  He died suddenly at age 54 caused by “acute intoxication” from  alcohol and Valium, on April 6, 2012.  His wife, Nanette, had filed for divorce two years before, and the couple was legally separated.  Kinkade died while living with his girlfriend of 18 months, Amy Pinto-Walsh.

The girlfriend and estranged wife began fighting almost immediately after Kinkade passed.  Pinto-Walsh was kept from the funeral and slapped with a lawsuit for breach of a confidentiality agreement.  The family wanted her to remain quiet and not share any personal details with the media.

Pinto-Walsh did not rest on her laurels.  She went to probate court to enforce two handwritten wills (called “holographic” wills) that she says Kinkade wrote for her benefit in late 2011.

These two handwritten wills are interesting, to say the least.  The first one, dated November 11, 2011, bequeaths to Pinto-Walsh the sum of $10 million dollars “from my corporate policy” and his house and property next door “for her security.”

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