Category Archives: Celebrity Estate Disputes

Alan Thicke Estate Dispute Highlights Pre-litigation Threats

Actor Alan Thicke – best known for his role on the TV show Growing Pains – passed away at the end of 2016, leaving behind a dispute between two of his sons and his third wife. Recently, Thicke’s two sons (Robin Thicke and Brennan Thicke) filed a petition in California state court, seeking a ruling that a premarital agreement between their father and his third wife (Tanya Callau Thicke) be declared valid. Tanya Thicke moved to dismiss the petition, claiming that she did not intend to contest the validity of the premarital agreement. The sons argued that Tanya Thicke had previously indicated …

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Top Four Estate Disputes from 2016

With the end of 2016 upon us, now is a fitting time to look back at some of the top estate disputes from this past year. 2016 was a typical year in that, unsurprisingly, people continued to die and families continued to fight over estates. The following are some of the major estate disputes that graced the headlines this past year. Note that this is just a sample of some of the major ones; there were several rather prominent ones this past year that I’m unable to write about, whether because I or my colleagues at LeClairRyan represented parties in …

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Who Would Inherit Darth Vader’s Estate?

Who would be the beneficiary of the estate of Darth Vader? The answer is more than just an exercise in Star Wars fiction; in fact, the answer can teach us important lessons about estate disputes in our real world. In case you did not read my earlier blog post, in which I asked the same question about Han Solo’s estate, you can find that post here. Note: for those who are not familiar with Star Wars, yet who want to follow along with the discussion below, it’s important to known that Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader are the same person (Anakin …

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3 Strange Things About Prince’s Estate

There are several unusual factors at play in the drama that is unfolding surrounding Prince’s estate. This blog post discusses them and offers some tips so that you can hopefully avoid a similar situation. First, the most unusual factor is that no will or trust has been found. What’s so unusual about this, you ask? Don’t numerous celebrities pass away without an estate plan in place? Sure, some do. But what makes this so unusual is that Prince is not some unsophisticated doofus; rather, Prince is quite familiar with legal disputes and has apparently had extensive dealings with attorneys over the …

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The Fictional Fight Over Han Solo’s Estate

Who would be the beneficiary of the estate of Han Solo?  Star Wars is obviously a fictional universe, and there is no indication in Episode 7 (or any other canon material that I’m aware of) that speaks to whether Han Solo had a will or not. Nevertheless, it’s both fun and educational to analyze the answer, because if the same laws in effect in Virginia were in effect in the Star Wars universe, Han Solo’s death would likely have set off a wave of litigation among numerous characters in a galaxy far, far away. First, let’s consider what assets Han …

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B.B. King’s Estate: Murder Allegations and the Slayer Rule

Two of B.B. King’s children have recently alleged that King’s business manager and personal assistant poisoned him prior to his death on May 14, 2015. The allegations surrounding the blues legend’s death implicate the slayer rule: a rule in the vast majority of states that provides that if a person is convicted of murdering a testator (the person who executed a will), the murderer cannot inherit any portion of the testator’s estate, but rather is deemed to have predeceased the testator for purposes of the distribution of the testator’s estate.

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The Ernie Banks Will Dispute Highlights Potential Concerns About Caregivers

The famous baseball player Ernie Banks was known for his positivity and his love of baseball (captured in his iconic phrase “Let’s play two,” referring to his desire to play a doubleheader every day). It’s ironic, then, that his estate has been the subject of a bitter dispute between his family and his caretaker. CNN.com Reports: “Banks family attorney Mark Bogen said Banks’ agent, Regina Rice, had the octogenarian sign a new will three months before his death. Our family thought that Ms. Rice was helping our father and watching over him while he was in Chicago,” son Joey Banks …

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Robin Williams Trust Dispute Highlights Importance of Precise Drafting

It’s unlikely that the late comedian Robin Williams would be laughing at the current dispute involving his family members. A dispute over the interpretation of certain language in his trust – pitting his widow Susan against his three children – is currently in litigation in Superior Court in Marin County, California. CNN.com Reports: Specifically, there’s one paragraph about certain items of Williams’ property that his beneficiaries have made into a tricky semantics debate. The paragraph assigns to Williams’ children all of his “clothing, jewelry, personal photos taken prior to his marriage to (Susan) … memorabilia and awards in the entertainment …

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Waiting for Atticus Finch

Harper Lee Allegations Show the Importance of Proper Actions by an Agent Under a Power of Attorney The media and publishing world has been abuzz the past few weeks with news that Harper Lee – the author of the famed novel To Kill A Mockingbird – plans to publish her first novel in over 55 years. Described as a sequel, the new novel Go Set a Watchman is set to be released this coming summer. Recently, several media outlets have published reports from acquaintances of the 88-year old Ms. Lee implying that publication of the new novel is contrary to Ms. …

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