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Estate Planning Blog

Serving Clients Throughout North Central Missouri

Marilyn Monroe’s Estate Makes Money 50 Years after Her Death

Screen siren Marilyn Monroe starred in 23 films in her career. She created the first female-owned production studio. Marilyn Monroe Productions first film produced was The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier.

Cheat Sheet’s recent article entitled “Marilyn Monroe’s Estate Is Still Making Millions but Not Because of Her Movies” says that as she became more famous, she saw bigger paydays.

Monroe died at the age of 36 in 1962, at the peak of her fame. However, Marilyn’s star would only continue to rise. More than 58 years after her fatal overdose, she’s still one of the most famous women in history. Her face and name are instantly recognizable, and public perception around her acting abilities have only improved in the years since her death.

According to Forbes, Monroe’s estate earned $8 million this year, making her the 13th highest-paid dead celebrity, and also the only woman on the list. Marilyn Monroe’s likeness makes her millions. Even today, Monroe is still the world’s biggest sex symbol.

Forbes reported that Monroe’s likeness is used by nearly 100 brands around the world, including high-end fashion houses like Dolce & Gabbana. Her famous face is still her biggest money-maker, but her films still bring in cash to her estate. Some Like It Hot made her estate $4.5 million in 1999 alone.

Monroe never had children and she was not married at the time of her death, so she left most of her money to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg. Marilyn also left money for her mother, half-sister, and close friends. Strasberg’s second wife, Anna, inherited the estate when Lee died in 1982. It was Anna who signed the deal with CMG Worldwide to license official Marilyn Monroe products, which contributed greatly to her estate.

While Monroe wanted her personal items to be left with friends, items like the dress she wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy and her beloved white baby grand piano were sold by the estate. The dress was sold for $4.8 million in 2016, and singer Mariah Carey bought the piano for more than $600,000.

Reference: Cheat Sheet (Dec. 21, 2020) “Marilyn Monroe’s Estate Is Still Making Millions but Not Because of Her Movies”

 

What’s Going on with the Estate of Kenny Rogers?

TMZ reported that the estate of the late Kenny Rogers alleged that Kelly Junkermann convinced the country and pop singer to allow him to film his last tour.

Kenny supposedly agreed but did so under the strict condition that the footage be only for personal use.

Rogers’ estate now says that Junkermann disregarded that agreement and attempted to commercially release a DVD called “Kenny Rogers — The Gambler’s Last Deal.”

Wealth Advisor’s recent article entitled “Kenny Rogers estates sues longtime friend over unauthorized tour DVD” reports that the lawsuit states that Junkermann consistently asked for approval to use the content he’d collected but was always denied.

Regardless of this rejection, he moved forward and inked a deal to distribute the footage.

The lawsuit states that the tour footage is filled with “priceless and irreplaceable audio, video, photographic and audiovisual content that were compiled over the course of Kenny Rogers’ decades-long career.”

One of the reasons the estate wants Junkermann’s DVD blocked, is that it has its own DVD of the final tour and doesn’t want fans to be confused. The estate also says that Junkermann’s DVD isn’t up to Kenny’s high standards.

TMZ reported that the estate blocked the release of Junkermann’s DVD earlier in 2020, but it cost nearly $300,000 in legal fees to be accomplished.

The Rogers estate is formally suing for damages and for an injunction blocking the DVD from Junkermann from ever coming out.

The country music icon, who passed away in March at age 81, announced his Gambler’s Last Deal Tour in 2015 and completed it two years later. Officially, the star’s last show was in October 2017 at a star-studded farewell concert in Nashville. However, he played a few shows after that, until he canceled all remaining performances after April 2018.

Junkermann’s DVD was actually set for presale in late 2019, but links to online vendors and video trailers are no longer working.

Junkermann also had a forward written for the package.

Reference: Wealth Advisor (Dec. 1, 2020) “Kenny Rogers estates sues longtime friend over unauthorized tour DVD”

How Will a New NFL Policy Impact the Late Broncos Owner’s Estate Planning?

Although North Central Missouri is Chief’s Country, I thought you may be interested in an interesting estate planning situation that has developed with the Broncos NFL team.  No matter the late Pat Bowlen’s intentions of passing down ownership of the Broncos to one of his children via the Bowlen Trust, the NFL looks to be asserting its authority with a new policy on minimum ownership and team control.

Sports Illustrated’s recent article entitled “New NFL Ownership Policy Could Have Major Impact on Broncos” says that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell now has the authority and power of levying fines up to $10 million per year to teams that aren’t in compliance with the policy and up to $2 million per year for individual owners.

The new NFL policy says that one person must hold at least the minimum amount of equity in the team and also have the final say in all team matters.

The Broncos and Tennessee Titans are the only two teams not currently in compliance with this policy, meaning that they both could be fined by the league up to $10 million within the next year. The Broncos are under control of the Pat Bowlen Trust, a three-person entity that was empowered with naming one of Bowlen’s seven children as his successor after his death in 2019. Within the trust, a list of expectations was provided by the Broncos’ late owner which were aimed at readying the eventual successor for life as an owner in the NFL.

However, as it now appears, there’s an ongoing lawsuit between the trust and a legal team for Beth Bowlen Wallace, as to who will be taking control of the team in the near future.

It looked like the trust selected Pat’s daughter Brittany Bowlen as the eventual owner. She has completed nearly every instruction set out by the late Mr. Bowlen when he created the trust in 2009. However, his oldest daughter, Bowlen Wallace, and her uncle Bill Bowlen, contend that Pat was already showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, which took his life in 2019—long before he signed his estate planning documents. The two say that he wasn’t in a competent state of mind to make such decisions. Bowlen Wallace and Bill also believe that Beth herself has already done everything asked of her late father in the trust and that she should be designated as the owner of the football team.

This mess is in litigation and could go on for years. A court hearing scheduled for September was postponed until 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the lawsuit and the NFL’s deadline to name one person with “final say,” the team may be forced to sell—which was a possibility after Pat’s death. The other Bowlen children must approve on who the majority shareholder would be.

“It is an option, and we’ve told the beneficiaries that,” Broncos CEO Joe Ellis said of selling the team back in December of 2019. “Because if Brittany were to succeed and take over for her father, everybody else is going to have to sign off on that, most likely. That may not be a requirement, but it’s going to be necessary, I think, moving forward from a trustee viewpoint.

“That’s why a sale remains a possibility, I think, given the circumstances we’re in.”

Reference: Sports Illustrated (Nov. 23, 2020) “New NFL Ownership Policy Could Have Major Impact on Broncos”

What Does Actor Chadwick Boseman’s Estate Look Like?

Boseman passed away in late August after a four-year battle with colon cancer. He died without a will, and his estate is estimated at $938,500, according to papers filed in Los Angeles County probate court.

Boseman is best known for the movie “Black Panther,” as well as “42,” “Get on Up” and “Marshall.” He appeared earlier this year in Spike Lee’s “Da Five Bloods.”

USA Today’s recent article entitled “Chadwick Boseman’s wife seeks to administer estate of ‘Black Panther’ star, who died with no will” reports that in the court papers, Boseman’s wife, Simone Ledward (referred to in the documents by her legal name, Taylor Simone Ledward), asked to be appointed administrator with limited authority over the actor’s estate.

When there is no will to designate an executor, state law or a judge will make that determination. Most states say that the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner, if any, is the first choice. An adult child is then usually next on the list, followed by other family members.

If there’s no will, state law will direct what happens to property. If the deceased person was married, the surviving spouse typically gets the largest share.

Distant relatives inherit, only if there is no surviving spouse and if there are no children. If no relatives can be found, the state gets the assets.

In addition to Ledward, the actor is survived by his parents, Leroy and Carolyn Boseman, who are also named in the papers. Boseman’s family, including Ledward, were by his side when he died at his Los Angeles home.

According to People, Boseman and Ledward became engaged in 2019 and their last public appearance together was at the NBA All-Star Game in February in Chicago.

Boseman paid tribute to his wife during an acceptance speech at the 2019 NAACP Image Awards. “Simone, you’re with me every day. I have to acknowledge you right now. Love you.” Ledward blew him a kiss and mouthed back the words, “I love you.”

Reference: USA Today (Oct. 16, 2020) “Chadwick Boseman’s wife seeks to administer estate of ‘Black Panther’ star, who died with no will”

 

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