What do Prince, Frank Sinatra Jr., Jose Fernandez and Tom Clancy have in common beyond the fact that all were famous and each died in the last few years?

All four also left their multimillion-dollar estates in a mess.

Now the heirs and would-be heirs are trying to sort out what they are entitled to and judges are trying to determine what the heirs of the ultra wealthy benefactors have a legal claim to.

William W. Sleeth III says most of the headaches these four created could have been avoided. Sleeth is a partner in the national law firm of LeClairRyan and the leader of the firm’s estate and trust litigation team.

“Litigation over money is a long-running trend that continued in 2016 as people continued to die and families continued to fight over the estates,” he says.

The first rule in avoiding estate problems is to always have a will and estate plan in place no matter what your age and put it in a place where people can find it. Singer, songwriter, musician Prince was a relatively young 57 when he passed away last April. He had hundreds of millions of dollars but no will. That prompted would-be heirs to appear from everywhere.

“Prince was very sophisticated when it came to protecting his property rights for his music, but not for his money,” Sleeth says. As of now, it seems Prince’s younger sister and five half-siblings are the heirs, but the case is still in court.

The second rule is to hire good attorneys and listen to them. Singer, songwriter Frank Sinatra Jr., did things his way like his famous father, Sleeth says.

Sinatra and his wife, Cynthia, were divorced but did not separate. They continued to live together as husband and wife for years, giving Cynthia the impression that she was a common law wife and entitled to benefits while he was alive and an inheritance when he died.

The two were already involved in litigation whenSinatra died in March while on tour. The litigation continues.

First « 1 2 3 » Next