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The Controversy of Arturo Gatti's Death May Never End

Arturo-GattiArturo Gatti, the former world-champion boxer, died violently while on vacation in Brazil, in 2009.  His wife, Amanda Rodrigues Gatti, was arrested for murder, only to be released after the police ruled the death a suicide.  Now, almost four years later, Brazilian authorities have re-opened the investigation and the case may soon return to court.  

It’s the latest chapter in a long line of legal struggles that started after Arturo Gatti’s death.  Gatti’s mother, brother, and the mother of his first child have always believed that Rodrigues was responsible for his death.  Gatti was found strangled by Rodrigues’ purse strap, and she reportedly was in the room with his body for ten hours without realizing he was dead.

Rodrigues has consistently maintained that Gatti committed suicide.  She points out that autopsies have been done in both Brazil and Montreal — where the couple lived — and both determined that Gatti killed himself.

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Jenni Rivera's Estate Heading For Turmoil

Jenni Rivera was a singer-songwriter, actress and Telemundo TV star who died tragically on December 9, 2012 in a plane crash in Mexico.  While well-known to fans of Latino music and Mexican TV, Rivera appeared poised to breakthrough to mainstream America due to a new TV show she was set to star in for ABC.  Jenni Rivera

The 43-year old Rivera lived a turbulent life.  She had her first child at age 15 and then married the father.  They had two more children together, but it was a marriage of abuse and molestation.  After the divorce, Rivera’s first husband was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in jail for child molestation.

Rivera married twice more and had two more children from her second marriage.  Her third marriage, to professional baseball player Esteban Loaiza, also was ending.  The couple filed for divorce on October 1, 2012, citing irreconcilable differences.   There was a report that Rivera and her eldest daughter had been fighting because the daughter had an affair with Loaiza, but it’s a report that the daughter strenuously refuted.

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Monkey Business Surrounding Davy Jones Estate

After The Monkees frontman, Davy Jones, died of a heart attack at age 66 on February 29, 2012, his family took the very unusual step of having his will and related probate court documents sealed -- perhaps to shield family disharmony from public view.   Davy Jones

Wills, unlike living trusts, are public court documents and generally available for the public to read.  Because of this, you can find hundreds of celebrity wills online through simple internet searches (and it sure helped us write our book, Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!).

Davy's family, led by his oldest daughter, Talia Jones -- who has been named as the personal representative to administer the Estate -- asked the Judge to seal the file.  The request, according to this gossip website that obtained a copy of it, argued that the court should deny public access to his "planning documents and financial affairs as public opinion could have a material effect on his copyrights, royalties and ongoing goodwill."  The request was granted, without opposition.

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Samsung Billionaire Accused of Stealing Millions From Late Father's Trust

The chairman of the Samsung Group, Lee Kun-hee, comes in at number 106 on Forbes’ list of the world’s top billionaires, with a reported net worth of $8.3 billion, as of March. But did he acquire some of that fortune illegally from his late father’s trust?  That’s what his brother and sister accuse him of in a recent lawsuit that is growing uglier by the day.   Samsung chairman

In February, Kun-hee’s older brother, Lee Maeng-hee, filed the suit in Seoul, South Korea. Now joined by two other family members, the lawsuit claims that when their father, Samsung Group founder Lee Byung-chull, died in 1987, he left millions of shares in Samsung Life Insurance (the world’s 14th largest insurance company) as well as preferred stock in Samsung Electronics and cash, in trust.  Specifically, he placed the asset into the name of Samsung executives for the benefit of his family.  Lee Kun-hee then wrongfully took the stock and cash and transferred it into his own name, rather than dividing it among the heirs as he was supposed to, according to the allegations.

The U.S. value of the stock is around $877 million.  If Kun-hee loses, it could potentially cause him to lose his controlling interest in the  Samsung Group, which controls dozens of companies, including Samsung Electronics.

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Amy Winehouse Didn't Have A Will After All, But Did Have Millions

Shortly after Amy Winehouse passed away from accidental alcohol poisoning at the age of 27 last July, reports surfaced that she not only had a will, but she had the foresight to update her will after her divorce from ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil.  These early reports have recently been proven wrong.   Amy_Winehouse_in_2007

Probate records were recently filed showing that Winehouse died intestate, meaning without a valid will. The estate value is listed as £4,257,580 (worth about $6.7 million U.S.) in total assets, but taxes and other debts reduce the value to £2,944,554, or $4.66 million, U.S.  Many believed her estate would be worth much more, perhaps as high as $15 to $20 million.

But, let’s not jump to conclusions so quickly.  The assets passing through probate court are those left in her individual name when she died.  So anything held jointly with someone else, or that had a beneficiary designation (like a life insurance policy), would pass outside of probate, directly to the other person.  Also, if Winehouse had a trust — which is unlikely, considering she didn’t have a will — anything held in the trust would also avoid probate.  None of these types of assets would be included in her estate value as listed in the probate documents.

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Etta James, Others Remind Of Need For Estate Planning in 2012

A few weeks into the new year, how many of your New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside?  Exercise more. Eat less.  Spend more quality time with family.   Etta_James

Well it’s not too late to tackle a very important resolution that up to two-thirds of adults in our country ignore — estate planning. That’s right, it’s the topic no one likes to think about, but everyone knows they should take care of … wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and more.

It doesn’t have to be intimidating! In fact, celebrity stories are a great way to break the ice to remind everyone of what they need to do.

So, with the help of some recent stories in the news, here are Trial & Heirs: New Years Estate Planning Resolutions for 2012.  (We just gave an interview discussing some of these stories, which you can watch here).

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Estate of Richard Pratt, Australian Billionaire, Defeats Mistress In Court

Richard Pratt had a colorful life, until he died at age 74 on April 28, 2009.  A former professional Australian rules football player and stage actor, he inherited his father’s small cardboard business in 1969 and grew it into one of the world’s largest privately-owned recycling and packaging companies.   Richard-pratt

Pratt peaked on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires at number 321 in 2005.  Two years later, his fortune was valued by Forbes at $2.5 billion (in U.S. dollars).  His fortune declined from there, and Pratt eventually admitted to a massive price-fixing scheme, paying a record $33 million fine.  Pratt still managed to wind up as Australia’s fourth wealthiest person, leaving behind a $5.5 billion estate (in Australian dollars).

It was well known in Australian society that Pratt enjoyed the company of mistresses, one of whom gave birth to a daughter by Pratt in 1997.  But it’s another mistress who  caused the biggest headache for Pratt’s estate. Madison Ashton (also known as Christine McQueen) was a Penthouse Pet. She sued Pratt’s estate for millions, claiming he reneged on a “business agreement”.

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