Blog Post


John Singleton entered Hollywood in a truly historic fashion.  Not only was he the first African American to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Director for his debut film Boyz N the Hood, but he did so at the age of 24, making him the youngest ever nominee for the category.  Sadly, Singleton’s career was cut short when he died last week at age 51 following a stroke.


Before his death, Singleton’s daughter, Cleopatra, disputed the characterization of Singleton’s medical condition by Singleton’s mother and business manager, Shelia Ward.  Ward claimed Singleton was in a coma, petitioning the court in Los Angeles to be named temporary conservator for the award-winning filmmaker.  Cleopatra opposed the petition.  First, she believed her father’s medical condition was stable and improving.  She also alleged a conflict of interest with Ward, who Cleopatra believed previously abused her position as Singleton’s manager.


In California, a petition for conservatorship of the estate requests the court to appoint an individual to be responsible the financial affairs of an incapacitated person.  A petition for conservatorship of the person requests the court to appoint an individual to manage daily decisions such as food, clothing, or medical decisions.  North Carolinians will likely notice these responsibilities are identical to those of a guardian.  These positions are roughly the same, and their purpose is to fulfill the decision-making responsibilities of an incapacitated individual who did not prepare a power of attorney or other advance directive.


In the case of John Singleton, the dispute over his mother’s petition is now moot.  Instead, a new dispute appears to be developing over the purported existence of Singleton’s will.  Ward claims to be in possession of a will, which would determine the distribution of Singleton’s estimated $35 million estate.  However, if reports of a will are untrue, and Singleton died intestate, California law dictates that Singleton’s children would inherit equal shares of the filmmaker’s fortune, and Ward would inherit nothing.


To speak with an experienced attorney about incompetency or guardianship, or if you have questions about the terms of a will, please give us a call at (704) 457-1010 to schedule a consultation.  For more information regarding our firm, attorneys, and practice areas, please visit