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Tolkien Estate settles lawsuit over movie proceeds

The Lord of The Rings creator can finally rest in peace!  Those in charge of J.R.R. Tolkien's estate filed a lawsuit in February 2008 against New Line Cinema claiming that the estate was deprived of hundreds of millions of dollars.  It just been settled, to the delight of hobbits everywhere.Tolkein

Why the lawsuit?  Apparently, the orc-like movie producers only paid $62,500 for the movie rights despite earning an estimated six billion dollars!  The estate's attorney says they were promised 7.5% of that figure and hadn't been paid.  Let's do the math:  7.5% x 6,000,000,000 = $450,000,000.  That's 450 million dollars.  What, the check got lost in the mail?

Tolkien's heirs weren't the only ones screaming about not being paid.  The director, Peter Jackson, also feuded with the All Seeing Evil Eye  . . . I mean, the movie studio over his share of the profits.  New Line Cinema had settled that mess too.   

Reportedly, the settlement of the Tolkien estate claim is around $100 million.  So who will benefit from all this treasure?  The primary beneficiary of Tolkien's estate is The Tolkien Trust, an elvish . . . er, uh, . . British charity.  So the peace-loving people of Middle Earth will all benefit.   Here's the Associated Press article about the settlement

Disputes involving estates and trusts don't always involve family feuds.  That's why attorneys who practice in this area need to be multi-talented and able to handle many different types of legal issues, including breach of contract claims, disputes with creditors and lawsuits to recover money owed. 

Of course, if your estate or trust is owed 450 million dollars, you can hire a whole fleet of attorneys if you'd like.  For more modest trusts and estates, you may as well work with an experienced probate litigation attorney who can also handle lawsuits over money owed as well.

Unless you happen to know a friendly wizard who can use his magic to conjure up the gold.  Anyone know Gandalf's cell phone number?

Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at awmayoras @

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