Lives of celebrities have always drawn a lot of attention, and their deaths as well. Moreover, many celebrities have died leaving large sums of money behind when their name and legacy can still generate income, so the probate process after the death of a celebrity can be particularly fascinating. Here are some of the most famous probate cases in history that might show you the importance of having a good probate lawyer on your side.
This American businessman of Greek origin is the inventor of soft ice cream. He was a very successful businessman man . Mr Carvel started selling ice cream from his truck in 1929. While in New York, and five years later, he got a flat tire and was forced to park his truck next to a pottery store. He realized while parked and after getting electricity needed to keep his ice cream cold from the pottery store, he could sell his ice cream to people who were driving by.
After enormous rise in sales, due to the fact that he was at a fixed location, he decided to change to this way of doing business. Only two years later he was able to buy the pottery store and convert it to an ice cream stand and became the first person to market soft ice cream. The business was doing so well that he founded the Carvel Brand Corporation the same year and developed his own secret ice cream formula, as well as new refrigerators that he started selling. Still, this was not the biggest business move he had ever made. Creating one of the first franchises in the USA was. The company rocketed to success and Carvel himself featured in most of his company’s commercials since it was believed that his distinctive voice and charm played a big role in the success. At the time of his death in New York in 1990, the company had had 850 franchises throughout the USA and was worth over $80 million. His death also marked the start of one of the biggest legal battles in the history of New York probate law. The entire fight started because Carvel and his wife left a will stating that their money should be put in trust that would then donate to charities and provide income for the members of their family. The problem was the fact that these trusts were put under control of two employees of Carvel’s company that had been working there for a long time and that Carvel apparently had trusted greatly. The disagreements leading to the case in question began very quickly and they even led to Carvel’s niece Pamela Carvel’s filing court papers asking for exhumation of Carvel’s body in 2009 in order to investigate if he had been poisoned, while some other family members think that he was suffocated by the employees he suspected of embezzlement. Whatever the truth may be, the case has been active for almost a quarter of a century and it continues to this day.
Anna Nicole Smith
Much is already known about this model and reality television star and her marriage to billionaire J. Howard Marshall at his ripe age of 89. J. Howard Marshall was a successful attorney and an entrepreneur and his smart business moves amassed him the wealth that rose to $1.6 billion at the time of his death. Anna Nicole Smith was 62 years younger than Marshall and many people felt that she had married him only for his enormous wealth, which she vigorously denied. Whether this is true or not we shall never know but Marshall died only 14 months after these two got married, leaving most of his wealth to his son E. Pierce Marshall and disinheriting Anna Nicole Smith and his other son J. Howard Marshall III. The later two joined forces and Anna Nicole Smith filed a will contest in a probate court, claiming that her former husband promised her half of his estate when he died. Attempts to invalidate the will led the case to Supreme Court 12 years after Marshall had died which remanded the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Since then both original participants in this probate battle passed away, E. Pierce Marshall in 2006 and Anna Nicole Smith in 2007, but, even though some issues have been resolved, this legal battle continues to this day reaching the Supreme Court again. This case shows us just how important understanding probate laws and regulations and clearly determining your last will can be.
This music star left very valuable estate after his death in 2007, but the focal point of this probate case was the royalties to his almost 4,000 songs. This is where we can see how important a clearly stated and recorded last will is. The first problem appeared over the question if he had left a will. After that numerous handwritten wills appeared each of them giving rights to a different person. His six children claimed that he did not leave a will. One of his ex wives claimed that he did leave a handwritten one leaving everything to her. Then the children presented a handwritten note which revoked that will, both of these records being created after the marriage had ended. Ike Turner’s former attorney presented another will, handwritten again, which named him the executor of the estate. This probate mess, which arose from the fact that Turner’s last will was not recorded properly, ended with the judge hesitantly finding in favor of Turner’s children, completely disregarding all of the handwritten wills that circulated.
If the case of Ike Turner had the problem of numerous wills, the case of this rock guitar master had the completely opposite problem of not having a single one. Dying suddenly at the young age of 27, Jimi Hendrix left no will which caused several lawsuits over royalties between the Hendrix family, recording studios and record companies. For 20 years after his death an attorney was in charge of managing the Hendrix estate, but Hendrix’s father Al Hendrix sued for control of the estate in 1990. The case lasted five years ending with Al Hendrix’s victory. Al did his best to keep the memory of his late son alive and everything seemed in order, but Al Hendrix’s death in 2002 brought another legal battle, since he left almost his entire $80 million estate to his adopted daughter Janie Hendrix, leaving Jimi’s brother Leon Hendrix with nothing. A tentative verdict was reached on the notion that Al trusted Janie the most, having in mind Leon’s former drug addiction problems.
Written by Richard Cary Spivack – Probate Lawyer
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