B.B. King’s will to be contested by family members

New York residents who were fans of the late blues musician B.B. King may be interested to learn that there is a dispute over his will. Hours before a Las Vegas memorial service was held for King on May 23, an attorney who is representing some of King’s family members issued a public statement. The attorney said that his clients plan to challenge King’s will and the actions of his named executor.

B.B. King’s executor is a woman who also served as King’s business manager before his death. According to a group of King’s family members, the woman was not qualified to serve as the executor of King’s will. The family also alleges that King’s executor misappropriated million of dollars, lied and exercised undue influence over King’s will. It is unclear if King’s estate included any trust assets .

The family’s attorney is representing five of King’s adult daughters and other heirs. So far, King’s executor has not responded to the allegations from King’s family. Before King’s memorial, she did say that she hoped the service would be calm, peaceful and respectful.

Naming the right person to serve as the executor of a will is an important part of estate planning. The executor will be responsible for disbursing the testator’s assets properly and handling many other tasks of estate administration. A person who has been named the executor has a legal responsibility to adhere to the exact instructions in a person’s will. An executor who has questions about the duties that are required may want to seek the advice of an estate administration attorney.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, ” B.B. King family group accuses estate executor of ‘undue influence’ at death of blues great ,” Ken Ritter, Associated Press, May 23, 2015

Long after his death, James Brown’s estate still in dispute

There are countless examples of how a poorly worded or ambiguous will can lead to battles among heirs — even for years after a person’s death. If some parties think that the trust assets are not being appropriately handled, then the case could be tied up in case for years. In some cases, however, some of those assets might already be more or less gone.

Singer James Brown’s name has constantly been in the headlines since his death in December 2006 because of his estate. Brown’s will, which he signed about six years before his death, specified that most of his estate go to an irrevocable trust for the benefit of educating poor children in Georgia and South Carolina. Three men, none of them related to Brown, were named as trustees.

One of those trustees was recently ordered to give a mansion that he bought in Honduras to the trust fund. The man resigned as a trustee in 2007 and bought the mansion for nearly $900,000 in cash. In total, more than $7 million of the $12 million he earned from the trust was disputed.

He has already run into legal trouble over his trusteeship. In 2009, he was jailed for three months for not paying a court-ordered $400,000 back to the trust fund; in 2011, he was sentenced to home confinement for taking more money from the trust than he was permitted.

The singer’s daughter said that the restitution will help the trust, which might have collapsed otherwise. Regardless, this seems unlikely to put the drama to rest completely.

Source:  The Augusta Chronicle, ” Former James Brown trustee ordered to turn over mansion to musician’s trust fund ,” Meg Mirshak, May 19, 2014

Sporting-goods in-laws fighting over spending from trust

Many families collapse into disarray after the death of a loved one. While much of this is due to family members trying to come to grips on the loss of a husband, brother or father, for example, after some time it often comes down to financial matters. It can be a source of conflict, for example, if a trustee is having a personal conflict with a trust beneficiary .

This is the situation playing out for a family with a famous name in our city: Modell. Modell’s is a sporting-goods institution in the city, and now the company CEO is battling with his sister-in-law over the trust set up by his late brother.

Michael Modell died in 2001 of cancer, and he set up a trust to provide for his wife Abby and their three children. He made his brother Mitchell, now the CEO of Modell’s, the trustee of his estate — an act Mitchell says was an attempt to curb Abby’s spending.

Abby, however, is suing Mitchell, saying that he is using company money to pay for unnecessary luxuries for himself, such as a $100,000 steak dinner. Mitchell, however, says that Abby has racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges on company credit cards — even though she hasn’t ever been a company employee.

While this dispute is over large amounts of money, even estates involving much smaller assets can be the subject of family squabbles. It may be important to have an experienced attorney on board, maybe to act as a trustee himself or herself, to help ward off some of these issues.

Source:  New York Post, ” Modell’s president hits back at sister-in-law over spending ,” Julia Marsh, May 3, 2014