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Celebrity Legacies: The Battle Over Marilyn Monroe's Iconic Legacy

Marilyn Monroe left a legacy that seems to grow brighter each year.  Monroe's image and likeness were so valuable that a multi-million dollar lawsuit over her publicity rights raged on, more than fifty years after she died, until it was finally resolved by a federal court of appeals.  Marilyn_Monroe_in_Gentlemen_Prefer_Blondes

The second wife of Marilyn Monroe's acting coach was in the center of it.  Why did she -- whom Monroe barely even knew -- have control of the image and legacy of one of Hollywood's most beloved stars ever?

This is installment #10 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.

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Cory Monteith's Estate Shows How Even Young Adults Need Wills

News of Glee star Cory Monteith's death by cocaine and alcohol overdose on July 13, 2013 stunned his fans across the world.  The heartthrob actor was only 31.  He had struggled with drug addiction since he was a teenager.  Cory_Monteith

Cory's mother attributed his struggles with drugs at an early age due to the lack of a relationship with his father.   In an interview with Good Morning America she said that Cory tried extra hard because he had been "invalidated" by his father.

Cory's father, Joe Monteith, denied this and blamed Cory's mother instead.  He said his job in the Canadian military forced him to be away from home for months at a time, but he tried to maintain a relationship with Cory.  In fact, he says his ex-wife prevented communication and returned Christmas gifts he sent to his son.

It's hard to determine whose side of the story is correct, but there is no dispute that Cory and his father didn’t have a close relationship.  At one point, they went eleven years without seeing each other, until Cory contacted his father about two years before he died, according to Joe's interview in People magazine.  It is interesting that it was Cory who re-established contact, not his father.

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Joan Rivers' Estate Planning Was No Laughing Matter

Joan Rivers was widely respected for her sense of humor, work ethic, and willingness to say almost anything for a laugh.  When it came to planning her estate, however, the late comedienne and host of Fashion Police treated the matter very seriously.  Joan-rivers 2

Joan Rivers' last will and testament was signed on November 16, 2011.  A thorough and well-drafted legal document, her will named a living trust as her beneficiary.

Specifically, Joan Rivers, whose full legal name was Joan R. Rosenberg, signed the Rosenberg Family Trust on the same day as the will.  The will directed that all of her estate assets were to be distributed to that trust.

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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.

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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.

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Celebrity Legacies: Kurt Cobain Burns Too Bright, His Death Sparks 20 Years Of Fighting

It has been more than twenty years since Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, died from a shotgun blast to his head, at age 27. His talent, passion, and creativity launched a new movement for not only rock music, but American culture itself.  Kurt-Cobain

This is installment #7 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.

Cobain was a game-changer who burned too bright -- brighter than he could handle. His suicide note summarized it well: "I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away."

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Using Celebrity Stories Is A Great Way To Bring Up Estate Planning

MarketWatch.com recently featured an interesting article about the benefits that families gain by having the estate planning conversation early.  Not only does it improve family relationships, it helps sets the stage and prepares family members for facing the difficult issues caused by a loved one who ages or passes away.    Trial and Heirs cover 2nd-edition

The article noted how a UBS Wealth Management study recently found that only 43% of affluent Americans felt that having this conversation with their heirs was a pressing issue.  That’s surprising because experts predict that between now and the year 2050, the largest wealth transfer in U.S. history will occur:  a whopping 30 trillion dollars.

The problem is that having this conversation is seldom easy.  Who wants to sit around talking about legal and financial planning for when someone dies or becomes incapacitated?  Most family members are too busy with the stress of their daily work and personal routines to worry about talking to loved ones about death and dying.

While the MarketWatch article includes a couple suggestions, there is one more that we are huge proponents of:  using celebrity stories.  Instead of awkwardly beginning the conversation by asking your loved ones to consider what will happen when you pass away, why not bring up Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Princess Diana, or even Elvis?  These are all celebrities we have recently written about here at Trial & Heirs.

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