Family Fortunes Feed

Casey Kasem Fortune Fight: Is A Family Member Responsible For The Radio Icon's Death?

Why are Casey Kasem’s wife and daughter accusing each other of killing the iconic American Top 40 Countdown host?  Could either of them really have been responsible for his death?

And what did Casey Kasem’s doctors have to say about the controversy? Casey_Kasem

This is the second installment in our Fortune Fights series, based on the celebrity documentary television show, Fortune Fights, for which we serve as hosts, legal commentators and executive producers.  New episodes air on the REELZ network Thursday nights at 9 pm et/pt.  The second episode, Casey Kasem” Fortune Fight, airs February 7th.

Casey Kasem passed away in 2014 at age 82, with a host of medical problems including advanced Lewy Body dementia.  His death came amidst a tragic story of a family feud that grew worse as Casey Kasem aged and now continues years after he died.

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Johnny Depp Is Still Feuding With Amber Heard. Who Is Telling The Truth?

While Johnny Depp is no stranger to the courtroom – having been involved in several different lawsuits in recent years – none have been as impactful or bitter as his ongoing feud with ex-wife Amber Heard.  Did Johnny Depp abuse Amber Heard, both physically and psychologically?  Or were the allegations faked by Heard, as Depp and his legal team still contend?

And can Depp recover from the blows to his career and his fortune from this and other lawsuits? Images

This is the first installment in our Fortune Fights series, based on the celebrity documentary television show, Fortune Fights, for which we serve as hosts, legal commentators and executive producers.  New episodes air on the REELZ network Thursday nights at 9 pm eastern, starting January 31st, with the premiere episode Johnny Depp: Fortune Fight.

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Aretha Franklin Had No Will or Trust, But The Family Rallied Together To Protect Her Legacy

After years of battling pancreatic cancer, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, died surrounded by family and friends on August 16, 2018.  Despite the shocking reality that she died without a will or a trust, her family has banded together to quickly protect her estate.  But there are unavoidable problems on the horizon because Aretha did not do the proper estate planning. 1024px-Aretha_Franklin_on_January_20 _2009

As the Detroit Free Press reported yesterday, Aretha Franklin died without a will or a trust.  Her longtime entertainment attorney in Los Angeles, Don Wilson, told the Free Press that he “was after her for a number of years to do a trust.”  Our review of the recent probate court filing confirms that Aretha died “intestate”, or without a will.

On August 21, 2018, one of Aretha’s four sons, Kecalf Franklin, along with a Detroit-area attorney who worked with Aretha for more than 40 years, filed the paperwork with the Oakland County Probate Court.  While Aretha was a lifelong resident of Detroit, her death certificate lists Bloomfield Hills, a northern suburb, as her domicile.  So her probate will be handled through Oakland County, not Wayne County, where Detroit is located.

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Richard Pryor & Marlon Brando Rumor Rekindles Bitter Feud Over Pryor's Estate

Would comedian Richard Pryor be laughing or rolling over in his grave?  When Quincy Jones sat down for a recent interview with Vulture, he casually inferred that Marlon Brando slept with both Marvin Gaye and Richard Pryor.    Richard Pryor

The comment quickly snowballed when Pryor's widow, Jennifer Lee-Pryor, took to social media to confirm the Richard Pryor tryst with Marlon Brando:

She commented that Pryor would have no shame about Quincy's comments and was open in his early comedy routines about his homosexual encounters.  Jennifer felt that Pryor would have enjoyed Quincy Jones' revelation.

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How Can Johnny Depp & Lisa Marie Presley Both Be Broke? New Court Fights Explore Who Is To Blame

It's a growing Hollywood trend ... tens of millions of dollars gone?  Sue the guy who handled your finances!  But, legally, who should shoulder the blame -- and more critically, pay the price -- when a celebrity once worth hundreds of millions sees most of it disappear?  And what lessons are there for those of us whose net worth hasn't quite hit eight or nine figures?  Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp is the poster child for this dilemma after his reported net-worth of $200 million dwindled to a small fraction of what it once was.  But Depp is far from alone.  This summer, Alyssa Milano filed a $10 million lawsuit against her former business manager claiming financial ruin.  And Lisa Marie Presley recently announced, through her attorney, that she is in the same boat, preparing to sue her former business manager for $100 million in losses.

The Depp lawsuit appears to be the most heated at the moment.  Recently, Depp's former financial managers and advisors added a new lawyer to an already-ugly legal battle by filing to foreclose against two of Depp's houses, including his primary residence.  The lawsuit alleges that when Depp was in deep financial trouble, his financial management company, TMG, came to his rescue with a five million dollar loan.  TMG says it loaned the money on a short-term basis, to pay off another bank loan that was about to come due in late 2012.  Depp agreed to sell off some his assets, including his beloved yacht (which he purchased for $10 million and spent another $8 million renovating) and repay TMG shortly thereafter, according to the lawsuit.

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Hugh Hefner Was A Role Model ... When It Came to Estate Planning

When most people think of Hugh Hefner, they picture the famous Playboy bunny logo, young and buxom blonde women by his side, and his ever-present robe and captain's hat.  But people should also think of his smart business and planning sense.  After all, Hefner started a unique business with $8,000 in 1953 and grew it into a massive global enterprise.   Hugh-hefner-playboy

How Hefner used the resulting wealth to plan for his golden years and beyond was as unique and innovative as the way he lived his life.  It certainly isn't a road-map for everyone, but it worked out well for him.

It started at least as far back as 2010, when Hefner and his second wife, Kimberley Conrad, finalized their divorce after a 12- year separation.  At this time, records from his divorce pegged his net worth at about $43 million plus the value of his Playboy Enterprises stock and real estate.  Those records also revealed his yearly income to be nearly $3.5 million, with his expenses topping out at just over $1.3 million annually.

The big open question, of course, was:  What was the Playboy stock worth?  In 2011, Hugh Hefner partnered with a private equity group to purchase the Playboy stock and take the company private, for a total package worth $207 million.  When the dust cleared, Hefner ended up with a 37% ownership interest in the new company along with an employment contract that paid him one million dollars per year, gave him editorial control over the Playboy brand, and the right to remain in the famed Playboy mansion practically rent free for the rest of his life.

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Hawaiian Princess Kawananakoa In Court Battle Over $200 Million Trust Fund

Princess Abigail Kawananakoa, known to her friends as Kekau, is true Hawaiian royalty. Now, a bitter court battle rages over the questions of whether she is mentally capable of managing her vast fortune and whether she is the victim of physical abuse and financial exploitation.   Kawananakoa

Princess Kawananakoa, age 92, is a direct descendant to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii.  When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, it ended the reign of Queen Lili’uokalani, Kawananakoa's great-grand aunt. As the closest living relative, Kawananakoa is considered to be the heir apparent who would have assumed the throne if the monarchy had been restored.

Kawananakoa was also the beneficiary of a large fortune, thanks to her great-grandfather, James Campbell. Campbell, a 19th-century sugar cane industrialist who made his fortune in Hawaii, died in 1900 with an estate worth $3 million at the time. The Campbell Estate has grown since then, topping out over $2 billion in 2007 when the Estate was converted into corporate holdings. Kawananakoa inherited $250 million, mostly in the form of stock in the James Campbell Corporation. Today, her trust is estimated to be worth $200 million.

This trust fund is at the heart of the dispute, which pits her once-trusted attorney against her long-time domestic partner.  The attorney, James Wright, petitioned the probate court to remove Kawananakoa from controlling her trust. His petition was initially granted by the probate court judge, but now is challenged in court. Wright alleged that Kawananakoa suffered an acute stroke leaving her unable to manage her health, self-care, or financial matters. Wright based his filing on the determination of two physicians.

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