Martin Luther King, Jr. Feed

Another Lawsuit Brewing Because Martin Luther King, Jr., Died Without A Will

There is no doubt about the greatness of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, his estate planning wasn’t so great.  In fact, King made a mistake that too many people make everyday in our country … he procrastinated with his legal planning and died without a will.   Martin-Luther-King-1964

In large part because of this, his legacy has been marred by fighting among his children over the handling of his estate, including claims of secrecy, mismanagement and misappropriating assets.  Years ago, MLK’s heirs formed a corporation to manage King’s estate, but then they fought over control over the corporation. You can read Trial & Heirs’ coverage of the lawsuit between the King children here.  Luckily, the heirs were able to reach a settlement and ended that round of fighting.

But, that doesn’t mean the court battles have ended.  The corporation which operates the estate turned its attention to a television anchor in Southern Mississippi, named Howard Nelson Ballou.  The Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc., sued Ballou and claimed he has possession of historic documents relating to King.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Estate fight is resolved

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s three children have been fighting with each other in court over control of his estate and financial legacy.  Here are my prior articles about the Martin Luther King, Jr. estate fight.  Two of the three children had sued Dexter King, their brother, who had the legal authority to make decisions regarding the King Estate.  The Estate was run through a corporation, which Dexter oversaw, until the 2008 lawsuit filed against him in Georgia.MLK

Recently, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural D. Glanville had ordered the trio to hold a shareholders meeting and try to resolve their differences.  He also ruled the case would go to trial if no settlement was reached.  Obviously, no one involved wanted the legacy of Martin Luther King fought over in a very public courtroom.

So the three children settled, reported today by the Associated Press.  They agreed to allow a neutral person to act as "temporary custodian" to manage the King legacy and corporation, and give the three children time to repair their fractured relationship.

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New Book To Help Avoid Celebrity Estate Planning Blunders

“Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!” Explores High-Profile Cases & Offers Expert Advice



The highly publicized estate battles of several deceased celebrities have cast a bright spotlight on the importance of having the proper estate planning. Although mega-rich celebrities seem to be affected overwhelmingly by these brutal family squabbles, the new book


"Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!" is designed to help every family, regardless of income level, avoid the financial pitfalls that drained bank accounts and created huge family rifts for the dozens of superstars profiled in the book. 

“Trial & Heirs” uses real stories to help readers steer clear of the same celebrity “estate errors” as they plan for their own “heirs.” The stories cover well known legal fights over famous fortunes: including the recent battles over Michael Jackson’s estate, along with other celebrities like Ted Kennedy; Anna Nicole Smith; Brooke Astor; Heath Ledger, Ray Charles; Princess Di; Jimi Hendrix; Frank Sinatra; Martin Luther King Jr.; and Rosa Parks… as well as many others that most people aren’t even aware of.  The book gives readers a front row seat in the courtroom while the authors replay the “tabloid drama”, point out what went wrong in these riveting cases, and teach readers how to avoid similar errors.

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MLK family fight heading to trial

A few months ago I blogged about the court battle between the three surviving children of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Well the case has only gotten uglier as it's progressed.Martin_Luther_King_Jr 2a

Yesterday, the attorneys were in court because Dexter King -- the one in control of the King Estate -- filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case against him.  The judge refused, paving the way for a full jury trial on the claim that he breached his fiduciary duty against his two siblings. 

Dexter's brother and sister believe he withheld financial records, engaged in self-dealing and cut them out of important negotiations affecting the estate and corporation they own to manage their famous father's legacy.  Dexter, in turn, counter-sued his sister demanding that she turn over to him a set of love letters between their father and mother as well as MLK's Nobel Peace Prize.  The judge ordered that the documents be given to him to hold until the case is resolved.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Estate in turmoil

There's no denying the greatness of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Seldom has someone's legacy been preserved so pristinely -- and so privately.  His family has aggressively pursued anyone who used his name or likeness without permission.  There have been no authorized books telling the real story of his life.  No movies have been made with the full tale of his struggles and triumphs, revealing the details that only his family have. 

Martin_Luther_King_JrAll that may be about to change.  Or is it?

Dexter King, one of three living children, is the executor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Estate.  Last year, he negotiated a $1.4 million book deal with Penguin Group.  This year, he authorized a deal with Steven Spielburg's DreamWorks Studio for a full feature length film.  Both seek to finally reveal to the public the true story chronicling King's life and legacy. 

But Dexter King's two siblings, Martin Luther King III and Bernice King, may put a stop to it all.  They sued Dexter last year, alleging that he breached his fiduciary duty and refused to communicate with them and share financial records they are entitled to receive.  They even claim he misappropriated estate assets.  That case has been pending since July and is still unresolved. 

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