On March 1st, my new book, Alzheimer’s, Widowed Stepmothers & Estate Crimes, will be published and available on Amazon. One of the central themes of my new book is that cognitive decline is a leading cause of estate battles. In many cases, it is the contributing factor to elder financial abuse. When seniors have Alzheimer’s or Lewy Body Dementia, they are at their most vulnerable, and it falls to their families to sort out the shambles of their estates.
Nowhere was this more true than in the case of the late, great actor Marlon Brando. We remember him now mostly for his iconic portrayal of Don Vito Corleone, the unforgettable Godfather in the movie by Francis Ford Coppola. In a career that spanned more than 60 years, he was far m[...]
Unless you’re from Santa Barbara, you may not know the name Huguette Clark. She was the reclusive heiress to a $300 million copper and railroad fortune amassed by her father, W.A. Clark, a former US Senator from Montana who also held the distinction of being the founder of the city of Las Vegas. When Clark died in 2011 at the age of 104, she created by will the Bellosguardo Foundation, whose purpose was to foster the arts by displaying her art collection at her massive $85 million, 23 ½ acre summer home in Santa Barbara.
Clark’s first Will was written when she was 98, and in that document, she left her estate to distant relatives and her private nurse. 42 days later, however, she signed a second Will that disinherited her family mem[...]
James Brown, the singer-songwriter, producer and so-called “Godfather of Soul” in a career that spanned 50 years, died on Christmas Day, 2006, almost exactly 12 years ago.
We wrote about Brown’s case on the Hackard Law Blog more than four years ago, and yet, surprisingly, his estate remains unsettled.
Like a lot of celebrities we’ve profiled, Brown’s personal life was complicated, which led to a messy estate. To this day, despite having amassed a fortune estimated at between $50 and $100 million, most of his beneficiaries have received nothing. The question you may be asking is, how could such a thing happen?
What’s interesting about the Brown case is that it demonstrates how even when someone is very specific about beq[...]
Country music legend Glen Campbell, author of hits like Wichita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy, lived a long and fruitful 81 years. At the time of his passing away from Alzheimer’s disease in August of 2017, he would leave behind some 60 studio albums as well as eight children from four different marriages. With royalties included, his estate has been estimated to reach a scale of $50 million, seemingly more than enough for all beneficiaries.
There was just one problem, though – Campbell disinherited three of his eight children in his 13-page will from 2006. For reasons unknown to the public, the country star specifically excluded daughter Kelli Campbell and sons William and Wesley Campbell from any sort of inheritance. Campbell desig[...]
Earlier this year, I related the story of Stan Lee, the iconic creator of such comic book heroes as the Hulk, Doctor Strange, and the Fantastic Four. As you may already have heard, Lee passed away recently at the age of 95.
Unfortunately for Lee, the last year of his life was probably not the happy ending we might have all hoped for him. As I noted in my earlier video, Lee had a falling out with his 67-year old daughter, JC, which prompted him to change the terms of his trust. That act, in turn, led to a series of events that turned Lee’s final year upside down.
First, a business partner of Lee’s daughter became Stan Lee’s “Senior Adviser” which allowed him to control Lee’s medical and legal matters. That, in turn, started[...]
Walt Disney is one of the most celebrated and successful entrepreneurs of the 20th Century and a man whose vision continues to delight families around the world through his Disney Theme Parks and Movies. Disney himself was a scrappy and colorful animator, film producer, voice actor, and corporate leader who may have become more celebrated and appreciated since his death in 1966 than he was while he was alive.
Despite many setbacks during his career and big gambles on films and theme parks that could easily have gone the wrong way, Disney managed to leave behind a significant fortune, mostly in the form of Walt Disney company stock which some have estimated was worth $100 Million when he died.
Unfortunately for several of Disney’s gr[...]
Before he died of a heart attack while attending a drug treatment facility in August 1995, Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead rock band, was already a legend. Thousands of fans, known as “Deadheads,” followed Garcia and his bandmates to concerts around the world. Included among them were such celebrities as John Belushi, Jimmy Buffett, Al Gore, Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, and even the unlikely iconic newsman Walter Cronkite.
Garcia and his band ushered in an era of social and environmental activism that remains with us today.
Jerry Garcia lived hard and died broke, according to his lawyer, but that didn’t keep him from bequeathing large sums of money he didn’t have. Between Garcia’s bohemian lifestyle, multiple [...]
He was born Alan Willis Jeffrey in Ontario, Canada in 1947, but we remember him by his stage name, Alan Thicke, a popular comedian, actor, comedian and talk show host, and best known for his role as Dr. Jason Seaver on the 80’s sitcom Growing Pains.
Thicke was married three times, and was the father of three sons, two by his first marriage and one by his second. It was his third marriage to Tanya Callau, a model he married in 2005, that ultimately led to a legal battle over the late actor’s estate when he died in 2016 at the age of 69.
Unlike most celebrities who re-marry for a second or third time, Thicke took steps to protect his assets for his children by requiring Tanya to sign a pre-nuptial agreement four days before they mar[...]
When billionaire Douglas Tompkins, the co-founder of two major brands, North Face and Espirit, died in a kayak accident in Chile in December 2015, he left everything in his estate to his second wife, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, as well as to foundations the couple created to preserve land in Chile and Argentina. His two daughters, including Summer Tompkins Walker, and his five grandchildren who live in the Bay Area, were all disinherited. This is yet another case of the widowed stepmother getting almost everything.
As we’ve seen over and over, in instances of blended families, especially when wealthy individuals re-marry and the father and stepmother become estranged from children of earlier marriages, inheritance problems invariably h[...]
He was one of the greatest spy fiction writers of our era, and his movies and characters will certainly live on for decades, but for all his brilliance as a novelist, Tom Clancy was not good at plotting a satisfying end to his own estate.
When he died on October 1, 2013, at the age of 66, Clancy left behind five children from two marriages, the indelible character, Jack Ryan, and an estate worth $86 million. Unfortunately for his heirs, he also left behind a complicated and expensive problem with the estate planning documents he signed a few weeks before he died.
Like many wealthy people, Clancy had access to excellent attorneys and estate planning professionals, and they advised him to divide his assets into three trusts – one for [...]