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    ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ that Aretha Franklin’s children have ‘Respect’ and Are Not a ‘Chain of Fools’

    American singer and songwriter Aretha Franklin passed away on August 16 at the age of 76 after battling advanced pancreatic cancer. In the days following her passing, her four sons filed documents with the Michigan Probate Court stating that Aretha passed without a will or trust, and claimed to be interested parties in her estate. Aretha’s niece, Sabrina Garrett Owens is the personal representative to administer the estate. When a person dies with a will, the probate court uses that and other documents (such as a trust), to guide them in determining the proper distribution of the deceased’s assets. However, when a person dies without a will, or “intestate,” their…

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    The Buzz About Aldrin’s Competency

    On June 7, 2018, Buzz Aldrin, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and the second man to walk on the moon, filed a lawsuit against two of his children, Andrew and Janice Aldrin, and his former business manager, Christina Korp.  The lawsuit responds to a May 2018 Florida Court filing in which Andrew Aldrin, Janice Aldrin, and Christina Korp requested appointment as Buzz Aldrin’s legal guardians due to Buzz’s “cognitive decline” and his recent episodes of paranoia and confusion.  Buzz Aldrin’s lawsuit claims Andrew Aldrin and Christina Korp took control of his “personal credit cards, bank accounts, trust money, space memorabilia, space artifacts, social media accounts, and all elements of the…

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    Florida Detectives attempt to unlock a cell phone with a dead man’s finger

    In today’s technology driven world it seems our phones are attached to our hips whether we like it or not. We are driven by the accessibility and connection that these tiny machines provide us. But what right do you have regarding your phone after your death? In March, Florida police pulled over Linus Phillips for illegally tinted windows.  Upon speaking with Mr. Phillips, Officer Steiner detected the smell of marijuana.  However, before Officer Steiner was able to perform a search of the vehicle, Mr. Phillips began driving in reverse.  Officer Steiner was dragged by the vehicle before he fired his weapon in self-defense and killed Mr. Phillips. Detectives wanted to…

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    Harper Lee’s Estate Sues Aaron Sorkin’s Production of “To Kill a Mockingbird”: When Can Estates Sue and Be Sued?

    Famed Hollywood writer, director, and producer Aaron Sorkin is on the defending end of a lawsuit brought by Harper Lee’s estate.  The estate alleges that his adaptation of the Pulitzer prize-winning “To Kill a Mockingbird” strays too far in the story and the development of some key characters from the original 1960 best selling book. In case you haven’t read it (spoiler alert), “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a favorite among attorneys and the general public alike. At its heart, it is the story of a wrongfully accused African-American man in 1930s Alabama. With prominent local attorney Atticus Finch as his defense counsel, both men struggle with the prejudice and…

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    7 Things To Know About Unclaimed Property

    1) You may be entitled to money held by the state.   Have you ever received a letter from a law firm or private investigator informing you of unclaimed property or cash and offering help? Last year, I got such a letter from Californian private investigator. Sensing a scam and having never heard of such a thing, my investigation began. The private investigator’s website seemed suspicious and after googling “unclaimed property,” I found that states hold unclaimed funds until the owners claim them. It is a completely legitimate part of state government, but a private investigator is not necessary in most cases.       2) What is unclaimed property?…

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    Probate Basics: Questions and Answers

              Losing a loved one is an emotional and difficult time, even without handling the legalities and formalities of the deceased’s affairs.  When you find yourself responsible for handling the deceased’s business at the end of death, where do you start?  This post aims to explain the basics of probate, how it works, and what you should do in North Carolina under typical circumstances.   What is Probate?              Probate is the official legal process by which a will is honored.  When a will is probated, an executor (sometimes called a personal representative) is appointed to administer the estate and carry…

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    Six Basic Questions and Answers about Executors

              If you have a will or have ever dealt with estate administration, you are probably familiar with the term “executor.”   However, most people don’t know what an executor is or what the executor’s role is.  Additionally, what do you do if you suspect an executor is behaving fraudulently or contrary to the deceased person’s wishes?   What is an executor?             An executor is a person or institution appointed to carry out the terms of a person’s will.  They are appointed by the person who wrote the will, the testator, to conclude the business and financial arrangements the testator had…

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    When Heirs Cry: Claiming Prince’s Paternity

              The inheritance saga in the wake of Prince’s death continues.  Since reportedly dying without a will, potential heirs are coming of the proverbial woodwork and claiming they are entitled to a piece of Prince’s fortune.  According to Minnesota law, if there is no will, the deceased’s estate first goes to his spouse. If there is no living spouse, then the estate would go to the deceased’s children.  If there are no living children, then the parents inherit the estate.  Finally, if no living parents, the estate would pass to the deceased’s parents’ descendants (i.e., the siblings of the deceased).            …

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    What Happens if You Die Without a Will? Taking a Lesson from Prince

              On Tuesday, Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, filed an emergency motion in Carver County District Court requesting that the Court appoint a special administrator to gather and protect Prince’s assets.  She also claimed that, to the best of her knowledge, no will existed.  The assets are estimated to be worth $100 – $500 million and are comprised of real estate holdings, including his Paisley Park Complex outside of Minneapolis; his music catalog, including licensing rights for television, film, and commercials; and album sales.  It is estimated that in the week after his death, 2.8 million of his songs – and over 650,000 albums –  were sold…