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Danielle & Andy
Michigan
We are co-authors of Trial & Heirs, speakers and attorneys
Recent Activity
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It's a growing Hollywood trend ... tens of millions of dollars gone? Sue the guy who handled your finances! But, legally, who should shoulder the blame -- and more critically, pay the price -- when a celebrity once worth hundreds of millions sees most of it disappear? And what lessons are there for those of us whose net worth hasn't quite hit eight or nine figures? Johnny Depp is the poster child for this dilemma after his reported net-worth of $200 million dwindled to a small fraction of what it once was. But Depp is far from alone. This summer,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2017 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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Hugh Hefner was controversial, but not when it came to his estate planning. Despite difficult family and financial circumstances, he planned well to protect his family and his fortune. Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2017 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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Princess Abigail Kawananakoa, known to her friends as Kekau, is true Hawaiian royalty. Now, a bitter court battle rages over the questions of whether she is mentally capable of managing her vast fortune and whether she is the victim of physical abuse and financial exploitation. Princess Kawananakoa, age 92, is a direct descendant to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii. When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, it ended the reign of Queen Lili’uokalani, Kawananakoa's great-grand aunt. As the closest living relative, Kawananakoa is considered to be the heir apparent who would have assumed the throne if the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2017 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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When British pop star George Michael, 53, whose full name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, died on Christmas Day, 2016, he was discovered by his lover, Fadi Fawaz. Tensions have been building between Fawaz and Michael's surviving family members, which include his two sisters and his father, ever since that day. According to reports from England, Michael's family members want nothing to do with Fawaz, to the point that he is not even welcome at the funeral. After months of delays before Michael's body was released, during which time it was determined he died of natural causes related to a heart... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2017 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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The moment the lawsuit started, it was ugly. Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb have moved well past ugly into uncharted territory in their courtroom battle that addresses views about life itself. As we wrote after the case began, Vergara and Loeb's disagreement teaches an important lessons for anyone considering IVF or other mean of assisted reproductive technology. But there's a greater lesson now. When the courtroom is the backdrop for a relationship of love turned to hate, things can rapidly spiral out of control. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard provided a good example recently. But even they -- despite dramatic... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2016 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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So much trouble caused by such a simple concept. When you create a will, you decide who receives your assets after you die. If you don’t, the laws of the state you live in determine it. What happens when those laws aren’t too clear? Chaos. And the Prince estate is experiencing it in full force. Maybe it’s fitting for the estate of the man who sang, “Let’s Go Crazy.” Prince’s estate — reported to be worth as much as $300 million dollars before taxes — is tied up in the early stages of a long battle over who really are... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2016 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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The death of Gene Wilder saddened Willa Wonka fans across the globe — not to mention fans of Blazin’ Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and many others. When his family issued a statement saying that Alzheimer’s disease claimed his life, it served as a valuable lesson. Alzheimer’s disease is a killer. As Wilder’s family aptly described it, it’s an “illness-pirate.” Gene Wilder is far from the first famous actor to fall victim to Alzheimer’s. Jimmy Stewart, Peter Falk, Charlton Heston, and Rita Hayworth are just a few others. And of course the disease has attacked celebrities from many different industries, including Hollywood... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2016 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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While the final Tom Clancy estate battle may not have been as exciting as the climactic scenes in The Hunt for Red October or Patriot Games, the struggle between author Tom Clancy’s widow and four adult children over his $86 million estate is now over. The seven justices on the Maryland Court of Appeals (the highest court in Maryland) were asked to rule about what a key clause in the codicil to Clancy’s will actually meant. While it was close — four votes to three — the ruling marked a decisive victory for Clancy’s widow. Considering that Tom Clancy is... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2016 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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Muhammad Ali was never one to shy away from battles. From heavyweight champions in the boxing ring, to the United States Government, and to the ravaging effects of Parkinson's disease, Ali continued to fight. Now there are growing fears that the fight will follow him into the grave, with mounting reports of trouble on the horizon for his estate and his legacy. The circumstances are ripe for an estate battle. Muhammad Ali fathered nine recognized children (including his adopted son from his most recent marriage) over the course of four different marriages. Estate disputes between the surviving spouse and children... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2016 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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Prince died without a will. So did Tupac Shakur, Bob Marley, and many other legendary musicians. Snoop Dogg doesn't even want a will. The question is: Why? It seems like such a basic concept; everyone needs a will. Otherwise the laws of the state you live in determine who receives your assets and controls your legacy after you die. Without a will, you have no say in what happens, and the chances of a family fight increase dramatically. Even though a will is relatively simple to create, studies consistently show that between 60% and two-thirds of adult Americans don't have... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2016 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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Despite the probate process having just begun for Prince's Estate, one thing is clear -- it will be a long and rocky road for everyone involved. While no one can dispute the artistic and creative greatness of the artist whose real name was Prince Rogers Nelson, the famed singer's business smarts were often overlooked. Prince closely maintained and guarded ownership and control over the rights to his music, including the publishing rights, master recordings, performance royalties, and more. He famously stored hundreds of unreleased songs in his “vault”, to be released only when he wanted them to be made public.... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2016 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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Only a very few pop artists enjoyed lasting careers as diverse, colorful, and successful as David Bowie. He remained fascinating and on the cutting-edge, up until the very end, in ways that extended far beyond making music. Bowie, whose real name was David Robert Jones (and who didn't want to be confused with Davy Jones), passed away from liver cancer a mere two days after the release of his latest album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday. Knowing that his cancer was terminable, many people believe Bowie intended his last album -- featuring lyrics about mortality -- to be a farewell.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2016 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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Tupac Shakur was well-known for his "Thug" image, his rap prowess, and his many Tupac Shakur's estateconflicts -- leading up to the tragic shooting that took his life at age 25. So should anyone be surprised at the high number of legal battles involving Tupac Shakur's estate? Or that Shakur could continue to be a pioneer in rap music, even years after his death? This is installment #17 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2016 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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What better way to start the new year than by counting down Trial & Heirs Top Ten Celebrity Legal Battles of 2015, complete with lessons? 1. Bill Cosby vs. many woman - Andrea Constad is one of dozens of women who have sued Cosby for defamation, accusing the comedian and actor of lying when he denied sexually abusing them years ago. In Constad's civil lawsuit, Cosby's deposition was unsealed, revealing that he admitted giving women quaaludes and having intercourse with them. He says both the drug use and sex were consensual. Recently, a Pennsylvania district attorney brought charges against Cosby... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2016 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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As if founding Facebook and reaching #16 on Forbes’ ranking of the world’s billionaires wasn’t impressive enough, Mark Zuckerberg – along with his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan — is out to change the world for generations to come. But not everyone thinks his motives are pure. Zuckerberg and Chan announced their decision to transfer 99% of their Facebook stock to a new charitable-based venture called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. This will do this through a new limited liability company, with the stated purpose to “to join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2015 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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The news broke recently that the divorce proceeding between Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco and professional tennis player Ryan Sweeting just became a great deal more complicated than originally reported. Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising. After all, Cuoco recently was named as Forbes’ highest paid TV actress for 2015 (in a tie with Sofia Vergara), with $28.5 million in earnings, including an impressive payday of one million dollars per episode. Comparatively, Sweeting — who boasts only one career tournament win and has been battling injuries — has an estimated net worth of only two million dollars, about $42 million... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2015 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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James Dean was the iconic rebel without a cause. The James Dean Estate, on the other hand, has been driven by a cause -- maximizing the value of his image and likeness. But was it taken too far when his heirs sued Twitter? This is installment #16 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here. Perhaps no Hollywood legend has lasted so long, and left such an impact, as James Dean. After dying... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2015 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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When is a divorce more than just a divorce? When famed actor Dennis Hopper battled through an ugly divorce against his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper, the battle was more about Dennis Hopper's estate than anything else. So perhaps no one should be surprised that the war turned uglier once Dennis died. This is installment #15 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here. The Easy Rider star had anything but an easy ride... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2015 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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After a six-month coma, the life of Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, has tragically ended. Just how tragic her short life really was may not be known for some time. But the details that have emerged are nothing short of heart-wrenching, if the allegations of a recently-filed lawsuit filed on behalf of Bobbi Kristina prove to be true. According to that lawsuit, Whitney Houston's millions were at the heart of this tragedy. But what role did they really play in Bobbi Kristina's death? It was on January 31, 2015 that Bobbi Kristina was found unresponsive, unconscious, and face down... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2015 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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As gay, lesbian, and other proponents of same-sex marriages celebrate the United States Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, millions of Americans will now be eligible for dramatically different legal rights upon the death or disability of a life partner than were previously possible. In fact, in the field of estate planning -- including planning for not only what happens when someone dies but also when someone becomes incapacitated -- the landscape in the LGBT community has just changed. Gay and lesbian couples now have a level playing field, equal to opposite-sex couples. The legal implications are far-ranging,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2015 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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As owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, Tom Benson, is used to being in control. He worked his way up from humble beginnings, starting as a used-car salesman, to owner of multiple car dealerships, banks, real estate, and a television station. Of course, Benson is most well-known for owning the NFL’s Saints franchise, which he purchased in 1985. Since then, he has successfully managed the Saints through the lows of Hurricane Katrina to the highs of winning the Superbowl. In 2012, Tom Benson added the NBA’s Hornets (now named the Pelicans) to his stable of businesses. Forbes estimates... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2015 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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The late Riley B. King — better known as blues legend B.B. King — often said that the only woman in his life was his guitar, Lucille. But that wasn’t exactly true. King estimated that he had 15 children by 15 different women. No wonder one of his biggest hits was called, When Love Comes To Town. B.B. King took responsibility for his children. According to CNN, he set up a multimillion dollar education fund for his descendants. King wrote in his memoir that he assumed responsibility every time a woman came to him and said a child was his,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2015 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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Kerri Kasem, the daughter of the late American Top 40 DJ, Casey Kasem, has been on a mission to make sure what happened to her and her siblings does not happen to others. When her father’s health deteri orated from Parkinson’s disease, it sparked an ugly court battle between his children and his wife, Jean Kasem, which did not end until he died. By then, Casey Kasem was suffering from serious bed sores, a urinary tract infection, and sepsis. Kerri Kasem feels that her father’s death could have been prevented if she and her siblings had been able to see... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2015 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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What would it be like to grow up in a 123-room mansion in a swanky Los Angeles suburb, rubbing elbows with celebrities, and buying anything you want? Sounds pretty great -- unless it was all taken away from you as an adult. As Tori Spelling wrote in her autobiography, it's not easy going from having a silver spoon in your mouth to a plastic one. This is installment #13 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2015 at The Probate Lawyer Blog
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Blues great B.B. King passed away at age 89 years old Thursday, after suffering from diabetes and other health problems. He leaves behind an unmatched musical legacy in the Blues genre, along with 11 surviving children and reportedly more than 50 grandchildren. Sadly, a dark cloud hung over the King family throughout his final days, due to a bitter dispute over the management of his care and money, involving what some claimed to be elder abuse. The battle pitted his longtime business manager, Laverne Toney, against a handful of his children. King fathered and adopted a total of 15 children,... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2015 at The Probate Lawyer Blog