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 [...]
The name John Seward Johnson probably means very little to you, but you’ve certainly know the company that Johnson’s father, Robert Wood Johnson, co-founded. That’s right – Johnson & Johnson, the maker of baby products we’ve all used for generations.
By the time Johnson died of cancer in 1983 at the age of 87, he left an estate of more than $400 million. Unfortunately for his heirs, he also left behind a complicated estate battle that took years and millions of dollars to sort out, mostly because his six children from two marriages alleged that Johnson was not mentally competent when he left his fortune to his third wife, Barbara Piasecka, a chambermaid, 42 years his junior, whom he married in 1971 with none of his children[...]
“Just one more thing...”
Do you remember that famous catchphrase from Lieutenant Columbo, played brilliantly by actor Peter Falk? He was one of the most important TV and movie stars of his day, and he inspired a generation of detective shows.
Falk lost an eye at the age of three because of a malignant tumor, and because of that disability, he was rejected from the armed services. He nevertheless joined the US Merchant Marines at the end of World War II and served as a cook and mess boy. He later applied for a job with the CIA but was rejected because he had joined a union while serving in the Merchant Marines. It wasn’t until he was 30 years old that he ultimately decided to pursue a career in acting.
Most people do not know [...]
Tony Curtis was a Hollywood icon, an actor who appeared in more than 100 films, a World War II veteran who served honorably in the Navy aboard a submarine, and an actor who was nominated for two Golden Globes, one Emmy and one Oscar. He was a major star who acted alongside Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Jack Lemmon, and Kirk Douglas. He also starred with Marilyn Monroe in their hit 1959 comedy “Some Like It Hot.”
Despite his enormous success, his death was hastened by years of cigarette smoking, alcoholism, and cocaine addiction. When Curtis died in 2010 at the age of 85, he left behind a rich film legacy, 6 wives, 5 children, and 7 grandchildren. In a surprise to them, however, he left behind only one heir who inherited his $40 Mi[...]
Elder financial abuse is a scourge that truly affects everyone – the rich and the poor, famous people and ordinary people, brilliant Nobel Prize winners and retired people who’ve never had any formal education.
The reason I draw your attention to cases of celebrity elder financial abuse is because they prove a point -- no one is immune. As Mickey Rooney once famously said before a Congressional Committee, if it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone – and it does.
When we study celebrity cases of elder financial abuse, we notice the same patterns that occur in cases that come to us at Hackard Law. The magnitude of financial abuse may be greater, but the lessons are the same. Case in point: Riley B. King, better known as [...]
Just down the street from Scott’s Pharmacy and the Sevier Memorial United Methodist Church, and near a big dusty farm in Ferriday, Louisiana, you’ll find a newly-christened street called Jerry Lee Lewis Avenue, named after the town’s favorite son. Although Lewis is best known for a string of rock and roll hits including “Great Balls of Fire”, in 2017, he became famous for something else: he’s a victim of alleged elder financial abuse.
At 82, he doesn’t perform as often, but he still has a loyal following and is a beloved entertainer. So how does someone go from being an international celebrity and rock and roll legend, to becoming a victim of elder financial abuse?
It turns out that even if you’re not rich and famous, [...]
You’ve certainly heard the old trope from Hollywood mystery movies that ‘The butler did it,’ and over the years that saying has become a cliché. But cliché or not, the saying may have actually been prescient, as it preceded by several decades a famous elder financial abuse case where the butler did do it.
Here is a picture of the billionaire heiress, Doris Duke.
Duke died in 1993 at the age of 81, so maybe you don’t remember who she is, but she was the heiress to the James Duke tobacco fortune, $40 million of which was donated in 1924 to what was then called Trinity College. Today we know it as Duke University, one of the top ranked and most prestigious universities in the world.
James Duke may have left Trinity College $[...]