There was an interesting article recently in AOL News about the Redd Foxx Estate. The successful comedian and star of Sanford and Son (whose real name was John Elroy Sanford) died October 11, 1991. Apparently, the Estate has no assets. Even if it did, there's an outstanding tax bill owed that's a bit hefty -- a whopping $3.6 million as of the day he died.
But the court-appointed executor for the estate is trying to change all that. John Cahill, who is a public administrator in Las Vegas (where the estate is pending) was put in charge in 2007. The prior administrator was Debraca Foxx, Foxx's daughter, who was removed from her position in 2006. Apparently, she failed to comply with a court order to account for what she had done with royalties and other monies the estate brought in under her watch.
In fact, Foxx's widow (and fourth wife), Ka Ho Foxx, accused Debraca of stealing the money instead of paying down the tax debt.
Since Cahill took over, he has aggressively pursued revenue for the estate and has brought in more than $100,000 since 2007, including royalty checks from Hallmark and CBS Studios for using Foxx's image.
But now, Cahill is trying to sell the rights to Foxx's life story to bring in some real cash for the estate. He says he's received offers for various amounts, up to $2 million, for the story rights. He's recently "done lunch" with a Hollywood producer and TV star about the project.
But, there are a few hurdles to clear. The first is that, while the estate does own the right to profit from Foxx's name, image and likeness, it's far from clear that the estate has the same rights for a "life story". That's why you see "unauthorized" biographies and documentaries about famous people all the time.
But Cahill says his attorney feels otherwise and he is legally permitted to sell the story rights of behalf of the estate.
The second problem is that Foxx's widow plans to fight Cahill in court. Apparently she and other Foxx heirs don't want this to happen. And why would they, with all the money due to the IRS anyway?
You can read the AOL article here.
We'll have to see if Cahill's efforts are successful. Managing estates is never easy, especially when the first person in charge wasn't forth coming with what was done with the money. People often don't stop to think about the headaches that can occur in probate court when someone dies.
That's why is always important for everyone to do the proper estate planning, including choosing someone who is trustworthy and dependable to handle the difficult job of trust or estate administration. Even without a big tax bill or complicated issues like publicity rights to worry about, probate court is never a walk in the park.
Posted by: Andrew W. Mayoras & Danielle B. Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founders 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. Andrew & Danielle are husband and wife attorneys, professional speakers and consultants across the country.Follow us on Google+