Wills Feed

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.

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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?

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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.

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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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