“I HAVE A DREAM” (OR NOT) – ESTATE LITIGATION UNCHECKED
The superrich likely have the market cornered when it comes to epic estate battles – Howard Hughes, J. Howard Marshall (i.e. Anna Nicole Smith), and E. Howard Hunt (of silver fame) – quickly come to mind.
However, even the mildly famous or sainted can have their moment in the estate spotlight. Recently, Luciano Pavarotti’s family was in the news when a dispute arose among his offspring in respect of his considerable fortune. They have apparently reached a settlement.
I also read with interest a recent US newspaper article indicating that two of Martin Luther King’s children had filed a lawsuit against a third regarding a dispute over the civil rights leader’s estate (J. Edger Hoover would have loved it). Bernice King and Martin Luther King III filed a lawsuit in Atlanta in order to force their brother, Dexter King, to open the books of their famous father’s estate.
From what I understand, the lawsuit claims that Dexter King, who is the executor of his father’s estate, has refused to provide his brother and sister with documents concerning the estate’s administration. The lawsuit claims that Dexter King and the estate "converted substantial funds from the estate’s financial accounts…for their own use". The siblings were never told beforehand and are now seeking financial records and other documents in order to investigate the administration of the estate.
Martin Luther King’s "dream" seems to have stalled when it comes to sibling rivalry and the fortunes of his estate. However, on a more serious note, the dispute once again reminds us of the importance of transparency in the administration of an estate and open communication between executor and beneficiary.
Thanks for reading. Auf Wiedersehen