Posts Tagged ‘family’

Ike Turner Will Contest Ruling is in

The trial involving whether Rock ‘n Roll pioneer & legend, Ike Turner, left a valid will has ended.  As described in this prior article I wrote, the case pitted his six children (two of whom apparently are now questionable children of his) versus his ex-wife versus his friend and “sometime” attorney.  I’m not exactly sure why someone would be a “sometime” attorney, but that’s how he was described in this North County Times (California) article about the trial. The children argued Ike died without a valid will, leaving all to them under California’s intestate laws.  The ex-wife, Audrey Madison Turner, felt that Ike had left everything to her through a handwritten will written two months before he died of a drug overdose in 2007 (even though the couple was already divorced). The “sometime” attorney believed a prior handwritten will in 2001 left him in control of Ike’s legacy.  What was that legacy?  While it appeared the estate was cash-poor, the victor would receive the rights to own and profit from some 4000 songs.  That’s a lot of notes! A few days ago, the judge issued his decision.  He ruled that both wills may have been valid, but a later note written by Ike Turner had revoked the last will, which in turn had revoked the 2001 will.  This meant the children were the big winners . . . at least so far. The judge also granted all of the combatants a chance to appear in front of him again to try to change his mind.  This is a rare step, especially given his first ruling came through a 16-page decision, issued two weeks after the trial ended.  In other words, this was far from a snap decision, which means the likelihood of him changing his mind would be minimal. So, while we can’t declare a final winner yet, the children surely had a good time celebrating this Halloween weekend.  Of course, regardless of what happens after the next court hearing, there is likely to be an appeal.  The losing side almost always appeals after trials like these.  There are too many emotions at stake (not to mention dollars) to go away quietly. Too bad Ike wasn’t better about documenting his wishes and avoiding a family fight.  For some reason, court fights among heirs to famous musicians are common.  Just ask the families of Michael Jackson, James Brown, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia, and Whitney Houston (wait — she’s not dead yet, but she is involved in a fight over what her late father’s true wishes were). All of these stories, and many more, are covered in the new book Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!, co-written by Andrew & Danielle Mayoras.  We use these stories to help make sure your family won’t end up the same way.  We also teach you what to do (and not do) if you’re already in a fight. It’s available at TrialAndHeirs.com . 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 blog @ trialandheirs.com.

The trial involving whether Rock ‘n Roll pioneer & legend, Ike Turner, left a valid will has ended.  As described in this prior article I wrote, the case pitted his six children (two of whom apparently are now questionable children of his) versus his ex-wife versus his friend and “sometime” attorney.  I’m not exactly sure why someone would be a “sometime” attorney, but that’s how he was described in this North County Times (California) article about the trial.

The children argued Ike died without a valid will, leaving all to them under California’s intestate laws.  The ex-wife, Audrey Madison Turner, felt that Ike had left everything to her through a handwritten will written two months before he died of a drug overdose in 2007 (even though the couple was already divorced).

The “sometime” attorney believed a prior handwritten will in 2001 left him in control of Ike’s legacy.  What was that legacy?  While it appeared the estate was cash-poor, the victor would receive the rights to own and profit from some 4000 songs.  That’s a lot of notes!

A few days ago, the judge issued his decision.  He ruled that both wills may have been valid, but a later note written by Ike Turner had revoked the last will, which in turn had revoked the 2001 will.  This meant the children were the big winners . . . at least so far.

The judge also granted all of the combatants a chance to appear in front of him again to try to change his mind.  This is a rare step, especially given his first ruling came through a 16-page decision, issued two weeks after the trial ended.  In other words, this was far from a snap decision, which means the likelihood of him changing his mind would be minimal.

So, while we can’t declare a final winner yet, the children surely had a good time celebrating this Halloween weekend.  Of course, regardless of what happens after the next court hearing, there is likely to be an appeal.  The losing side almost always appeals after trials like these.  There are too many emotions at stake (not to mention dollars) to go away quietly.

Too bad Ike wasn’t better about documenting his wishes and avoiding a family fight.  For some reason, court fights among heirs to famous musicians are common.  Just ask the families of Michael Jackson, James Brown, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia, and Whitney Houston (wait — she’s not dead yet, but she is involved in a fight over what her late father’s true wishes were).

All of these stories, and many more, are covered in the new book Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!, co-written by Andrew & Danielle Mayoras.  We use these stories to help make sure your family won’t end up the same way.  We also teach you what to do (and not do) if you’re already in a fight.

It’s available at TrialAndHeirs.com.

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 http://www.brmmlaw.com/ in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.

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Ike Turner Will Contest Ruling is in

Family fight over control of Michael Crichton’s trust

Celebrity estate battles just keep coming.  Here's the UPI article about the latest in a long line of court cases involving dueling heirs of the rich and famous .  Best selling author Michael Crichton (writer of ER and Jurassic Park) left behind a messy estate and trust because he failed to update his estate planning documents to provide for his son, not yet born when he died of cancer at age 66.  I wrote about the problems this caused in a prior article .  Then his estate had to contend with the claim of his wife, Sherri Alexander, who filed paperworking seeking seven million dollars from his estate under a prenuptial agreement she signed with her famous husband in April 2005, before their marriage. But the real fight just began.  A few days ago, Crichton's daughter, Taylor Crichton, filed a petition in the Los Angeles Probate Court to remove Sherri as one of the three trustees of Crichton's trust, claiming she's breached her fiduciary duties. Sherri's attorneys issued a press release to publicly criticize Taylor's legal maneuvering.  They pointed out that it is not a breach of fiduciary duty for someone to serve both as trustee and beneficiary at the same time (which does happen regularly).  The press release also addresses how Sherri filed to allow her son to be included as an heir, despite language of Crichton's will disinheriting any children born after his will was written.  It sure seems like how much the 8-month old baby gets will be one of the central issues fought over in this new legal battle. Fighting over control of estates and trusts doesn't just happen to the wealthy.  In fact, they are partcularly common in second-marriage situations (or fifth-marriage situations like Crichton's).  That's why doing the proper estate planning is extra important for those families. It's crucial for people who are worried about their spouses and children fighting to think long and hard about appointing a neutral trustee and estate executor, to help avoid disputes like this one.  That's just what Senator Ted Kennedy did (as recently revealed when his will was publicized ).  To learn more about Senator Kennedy's choice — and why he should be commended for making it — along with other ways to help your family avoid a fight, keep an eye out for Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!, which is coming out in a few weeks. 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 blog @ trialandheirs.com.

Celebrity estate battles just keep coming.  Here's the UPI article about the latest in a long line of court cases involving dueling heirs of the rich and famous.  Best selling author Michael Crichton (writer of ER and Jurassic Park) left behind a messy estate and trust because he failed to update his estate planning documents to provide for his son, not yet born when he died of cancer at age 66.  I wrote about the problems this caused in a prior article

Then his estate had to contend with the claim of his wife, Sherri Alexander, who filed paperworking seeking seven million dollars from his estate under a prenuptial agreement she signed with her famous husband in April 2005, before their marriage.

But the real fight just began.  A few days ago, Crichton's daughter, Taylor Crichton, filed a petition in the Los Angeles Probate Court to remove Sherri as one of the three trustees of Crichton's trust, claiming she's breached her fiduciary duties.

Sherri's attorneys issued a press release to publicly criticize Taylor's legal maneuvering.  They pointed out that it is not a breach of fiduciary duty for someone to serve both as trustee and beneficiary at the same time (which does happen regularly).  The press release also addresses how Sherri filed to allow her son to be included as an heir, despite language of Crichton's will disinheriting any children born after his will was written.  It sure seems like how much the 8-month old baby gets will be one of the central issues fought over in this new legal battle.

Fighting over control of estates and trusts doesn't just happen to the wealthy.  In fact, they are partcularly common in second-marriage situations (or fifth-marriage situations like Crichton's).  That's why doing the proper estate planning is extra important for those families.

It's crucial for people who are worried about their spouses and children fighting to think long and hard about appointing a neutral trustee and estate executor, to help avoid disputes like this one.  That's just what Senator Ted Kennedy did (as recently revealed when his will was publicized). 

To learn more about Senator Kennedy's choice — and why he should be commended for making it — along with other ways to help your family avoid a fight, keep an eye out for Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!, which is coming out in a few weeks.

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 http://www.brmmlaw.com/ in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.

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Family fight over control of Michael Crichton’s trust

Brooke Astor’s son found guilty

The jury verdict is in for one of the most intriguing will contest cases ever.  The son of the late New York philanthropist and millionaire, Brooke Astor, had been charged with 16 counts related to fraud, larceny, forgery, and more, stemming from changes to her will and related (alleged) wrongdoing.  Here are my prior blog articles on the case . Well maybe you can remove the word “alleged”.  The jury convicted Anthony Marshall and his co-defendant, lawyer Francis X. Morrissey, Jr.  Marshall, age 85, faces up to 25 years in jail based on the guilty verdict for 14 of the 16 counts, including fraud in connection with her will, larceny, conspiracy and a host of related charges. While some of the convictions do not surprise me — especially the retroactive lump-sum pay raise he gave himself of $1 million (for managing Astor's finances) — I must express my surprise at the will-related convictions.  People with Alzheimer's have good and bad days, and proving Astor was incompetent at the moment of signing, based on the high proof required in a criminal case (beyond a reasonable doubt), was very hard to do.  But the prosecution was aggressive.  The trial lasted more than 19 weeks and involved 72 witness who testified (in varying degrees) about Astor's mental decline.  Only two of these were defense witnesses. Marshall's attorneys have already promised an appeal.  For example, they will clearly challenge the jury verdict based on one juror's note given to the judge during their 12 days of deliberation.  The note said the female juror felt her personal safety was threatened by another juror and asked to be excused.  The judge denied the request.  Defense attorneys argue this prevented the jury from rendering a fair and objective verdict.  With a trial this long, they will likely find dozens of other grounds on which to base their appeal. In addition to the appeal, the case will also move to Surrogate's Court (New York's probate court) to determine whether the will and amendments should be invalidated based on lack of mental competency and fraud.  This seems to be a certainty after the criminal verdict.  How much of Astor's $180 million estate will pass to Marshall remains to be seen.  Here is the New York Times article about the verdict .  Families can learn two valuable lessons from this case.  First, it shows how important the proper estate planning is, because any family can be embroiled in a lengthy and expensive court fight after a loved one passes.  Good estate planning is the best way to prevent this. Second, even the very wealthy can be victims of financial exploitation and abuse.  When you have an elderly loved one with a diagnoses of dementia or Alzheimer's, or even notice increased memory loss or confusion, it is time to help make sure their financial affairs are in order and monitor their bank statements and legal documents.  Apparently, even someone as wealthy as Anthony Marshall can be guilty of this crime (he was already a multi-millionaire).  Imagine what could happen to your elderly parent or grandparent with so many people desperate for money.  Do not turn a blind eye.  Be proactive.  Be safe.  Do not let what happened to Brooke Astor happen to your family members.  It's not always easy to prevent, but the sooner you spot a problem, the easier it is to prevent or rectify. Not sure how to talk to your loved ones about this?  I, with my co-author Danielle Mayoras, wrote a book to help address this very point, including a complete analysis of the Brooke Astor case and dozens of other true celebrity stories.  We help people learn from celebrity errors so they can protect their heirs.  You can learn about Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! here .    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 blog @ trialandheirs.com.

The jury verdict is in for one of the most intriguing will contest cases ever.  The son of the late New York philanthropist and millionaire, Brooke Astor, had been charged with 16 counts related to fraud, larceny, forgery, and more, stemming from changes to her will and related (alleged) wrongdoing.  Here are my prior blog articles on the case.

Well maybe you can remove the word “alleged”.  The jury convicted Anthony Marshall and his co-defendant, lawyer Francis X. Morrissey, Jr.  Marshall, age 85, faces up to 25 years in jail based on the guilty verdict for 14 of the 16 counts, including fraud in connection with her will, larceny, conspiracy and a host of related charges.

While some of the convictions do not surprise me — especially the retroactive lump-sum pay raise he gave himself of $1 million (for managing Astor's finances) — I must express my surprise at the will-related convictions.  People with Alzheimer's have good and bad days, and proving Astor was incompetent at the moment of signing, based on the high proof required in a criminal case (beyond a reasonable doubt), was very hard to do. 

But the prosecution was aggressive.  The trial lasted more than 19 weeks and involved 72 witness who testified (in varying degrees) about Astor's mental decline.  Only two of these were defense witnesses.

Marshall's attorneys have already promised an appeal.  For example, they will clearly challenge the jury verdict based on one juror's note given to the judge during their 12 days of deliberation.  The note said the female juror felt her personal safety was threatened by another juror and asked to be excused.  The judge denied the request.  Defense attorneys argue this prevented the jury from rendering a fair and objective verdict.  With a trial this long, they will likely find dozens of other grounds on which to base their appeal.

In addition to the appeal, the case will also move to Surrogate's Court (New York's probate court) to determine whether the will and amendments should be invalidated based on lack of mental competency and fraud.  This seems to be a certainty after the criminal verdict.  How much of Astor's $180 million estate will pass to Marshall remains to be seen. 

Here is the New York Times article about the verdict

Families can learn two valuable lessons from this case.  First, it shows how important the proper estate planning is, because any family can be embroiled in a lengthy and expensive court fight after a loved one passes.  Good estate planning is the best way to prevent this.

Second, even the very wealthy can be victims of financial exploitation and abuse.  When you have an elderly loved one with a diagnoses of dementia or Alzheimer's, or even notice increased memory loss or confusion, it is time to help make sure their financial affairs are in order and monitor their bank statements and legal documents.  Apparently, even someone as wealthy as Anthony Marshall can be guilty of this crime (he was already a multi-millionaire).  Imagine what could happen to your elderly parent or grandparent with so many people desperate for money. 

Do not turn a blind eye.  Be proactive.  Be safe.  Do not let what happened to Brooke Astor happen to your family members.  It's not always easy to prevent, but the sooner you spot a problem, the easier it is to prevent or rectify.

Not sure how to talk to your loved ones about this?  I, with my co-author Danielle Mayoras, wrote a book to help address this very point, including a complete analysis of the Brooke Astor case and dozens of other true celebrity stories.  We help people learn from celebrity errors so they can protect their heirs.  You can learn about Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! here.   

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 http://www.brmmlaw.com/ in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.

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Brooke Astor’s son found guilty

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