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Estate Planning Blog

Serving Clients Throughout North Central Missouri

estate planning and elder law

Will Melinda Gates Changed Estate Plan after Divorce?

Divorce experts say there are signs that Melinda Gates’ divorce filing shows that she’s going to change her three children’s inheritance after her estranged husband, Bill Gates, has said he’s leaving them only $10 million each.

Page Six’s recent article entitled “Melinda Gates could be angling to change kids’ $10M inheritance in split” says that Melinda has taken the highly unusual step of designating some top trust and estate lawyers as her representatives in her divorce filing, along with the customary matrimonial attorneys. This move signals that Melinda has potential plans for her family which are not the same as Bill’s.

Bill Gates has previously said his children will get a “minuscule” piece of his $130 billion fortune. The Microsoft mogul plans to leave just $10 million to each of his three children.

Melinda said in her divorce filing that a separation agreement was in place, and sources say that if the parameters of the couple’s inheritance are not detailed in the pact, either party could change the amount their children inherit.

Inheritance typically isn’t addressed in such separation agreements.

Melinda’s filing for divorce and potentially changing her children’s inheritance follows a path of female empowerment increasingly expressed by the philanthropist. Gaining control in her share of the fortune and coming out from under Bill’s shadow is a big step for empowerment. Bill and Melinda announced on May 3 that they were getting divorced after 27 years of marriage.

They added: “Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives. We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”

There are reports that Melinda grew concerned about Bill’s association with the late pedophile investor Jeffrey Epstein. Melinda had reportedly warned her husband that she was uncomfortable with Epstein after they met him in 2013. That was the same year Bill allegedly flew on Epstein’s private jet from New Jersey to Palm Beach, Florida.

A spokesperson for Gates has previously said he stands by a 2019 statement that he met Epstein but “didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him.”

Reference: Page Six (May 17, 2021) “Melinda Gates could be angling to change kids’ $10M inheritance in split”

 

Trust Administration

Did Pop Entertainer Pink Change Estate Plan because of COVID-19?

Pink and her four-year-old son, Jameson, tested positive for the virus in March 2020, but her husband, Carey Hart, and daughter, 9-year-old Willow, did not contract the coronavirus.

MSN’s recent article entitled “Pink Reveals She Rewrote Her Will Because She Thought ‘It Was Over’ Amid COVID-19 Battle” reports that the entertainer did change her will.

“It was really, really bad, and I rewrote my will,” she said. “… At the point where I thought it was over for us, I called my best friend and I said, ‘I just need you to tell Willow how much I loved her.’ It was really, really scary and really bad. ”

The experience inspired her single, “All I Know So Far.” Pink described the song as “a letter to my daughter.” The single was released May 7, and a documentary and album of the same name will follow on May 21.

“As a parent, you think about, ‘What am I leaving for my kid? What am I teaching them? Are they going to make it in this world, this crazy world that we live in now? What do I need to tell them if this is the last time that I get to tell them anything?'” she said. “So, that was kind of the song.”

Pink first announced that she and Jameson were fighting the coronavirus in April 2020. That same month, she described “the scariest thing” she has ever been through on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, sharing that her son was the first one to get sick.

“[It] started with a fever for him and it would come and go, and he would have stomach pains and diarrhea and chest pains and then a headache, sore throat,” she said. “It sort of was just all over the place. Every day was just some new symptom. His fever stayed it did not go. It just started going up and up and up and up and then at one point it was at 103.”

As for herself, Pink said, “I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t breathe and I needed to get to a nebulizer for the first time in 30 years. I have this inhaler that I use, this rescue inhaler, and I couldn’t function without it, and that’s when I started to get really scared.”

In a December 2020 Instagram post, Pink, whose real name is Alecia Beth Moore, called 2020 a “poop sandwich of a year.” She also had a staph infection and a broken ankle.

See your estate planning attorney about changing your will based on current events.

Reference: MSN (May 4, 2021) “Pink Reveals She Rewrote Her Will Because She Thought ‘It Was Over’ Amid COVID-19 Battle”

 

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Which Celebrities have Left Spouses Out of Their Wills?

However, it’s not a given that a spouse will become a decedent’s heir or guardian of their estate, says Wealth Advisor in its recent article entitled “These Celebs Cut Their Spouses Out Of Their Will.” This can make headlines because it’s so rare and appears to be cold-hearted.

Some think the first famous person to do this was William Shakespeare. The Bard gave his wife the “second-best bed” and other furniture. He bequeathed his substantial fortune to their daughter. Read about other famous spouses who were disinherited.

Ric Ocasek. In 1989, Ocasek of the Cars married supermodel Paulina Porizkova. In a May 2018 Instagram post, Porizkova announced that she and Ocasek had “peacefully separated” a year earlier. Porizkova also tried to make it clear that she felt no animosity toward Ocasek, and that their relationship had evolved over the decades. According to USA Today, the two had begun the formal process of legally divorcing, before Ocasek died in September 2019. At the time, they still lived together. When Ocasek’s will was read, it included an addendum which said, “I have made no provision for my wife Paulina Porizkova (‘Paulina’) as we are in the process of divorcing.” He added, “Even if I should die before our divorce is final… Paulina is not entitled to any elective share… because she had abandoned me.”

Larry King. The famous broadcaster who survived multiple heart attacks, quintuple bypass surgery, lung cancer, angina and COVID-19, died in January at 87. King was married seven times, the last being Shawn Southwick. They wed in 1997 at UCLA Medical Center right before he underwent heart surgery. Like so many of his other marriages, that one ended in divorce. Just after beginning divorce proceedings, King amended his will — albeit with a handwritten note expressly denying Southwick any claims to the estate he’d leave behind. In the document, King requested that his money “be divided equally among my children Andy, Chaia, Larry Jr, Chance & Cannon.” However, the divorce was never finalized, so King and Southwick were still technically married, and he purposely left her nothing. It is looking like a lawsuit between Southwick and his estate.

Mickey Rooney. Rooney was married eight times between the 1940s and 1970s, among them screen stars Ava Garner and Martha Vickers, and Jan Chamberlin, his final wife. Rooney and Chamberlin wed in 1978 but separated in 2012. They did not divorce, and they were still legally married when Mickey died at age 93 in 2014. The Los Angeles Times says that Mickey “disinherited everyone except one stepson, according to a will filed along with court papers that showed assets of just $18,000.”

Reference: Wealth Advisor (April 5, 2021) “These Celebs Cut Their Spouses Out Of Their Will”

 

estate planning

Did Larry King have an Estate Plan?

Larry King’s health was not good the past few years before he died in the hospital last week. He was 87, with a history of heart trouble, a stroke and then he got sick with the coronavirus. He was also paying spousal support as part of a lengthy divorce negotiation.

This was his seventh wife who outlasted all the others. Since the divorce wasn’t final, she’ll inherit much of his estimated $50 million estate, says Wealth Advisor’s recent article entitled “Two Bankruptcies, Seven Wives: Larry King’s Estate Planning Miracle.”

The King of Talk wasn’t an early success. He was bankrupt before he was 30 and filed again at 45, when most successful people start eying early retirement. However, Larry had large gambling debts, grand larceny charges for defrauding a business partner and many professional setbacks.

By the time he really became a household name on CNN, he’d already had five divorces to four women as well as one youthful annulment.

Under normal circumstances, this would mean depleted bank accounts, since the households multiplied, and income continues to be split among the exes. However, King continued to work, and while each bankruptcy reset his official net worth to zero, every contract negotiation kept the income flowing.

Since he died before finalizing the divorce, his current wife Shawn is believed to receive everything not otherwise assigned in his will.

If the divorce were a done deal, she would have gotten a lump sum payment and $300,000 in annual support. Shawn had argued that she needed $1 million a year, but now it looks like she inherits everything.

Shawn lists $7 million in assets in her own name, including a house in Utah. That’s usually a good start to a divorce settlement division of property, but she wanted more because Larry was still working.

In fact, only last year, he signed a trial podcast deal worth at least $5 million.

Reference: Wealth Advisor (Jan. 25, 2021) “Two Bankruptcies, Seven Wives: Larry King’s Estate Planning Miracle”

estate planning

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”

 

Trust Administration

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”

estate planning

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”

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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”