Renowned blues singer Etta James died last week at the age of 73. She succumbed to chronic leukemia, complicated by dementia and kidney problems.
Etta James had a particular significance to me. After buying my first CD player, Etta James’ CD was the first CD that I purchased. That CD got a lot of play.
Etta James lived a turbulent life. She was born to a mother whom Etta described as a scam artist, a substance abuser and a fleeting presence during her younger years. She did not know her father. During her lifetime, she would battle addictions.
However, as a musician, she soared. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and won numerous Grammys, including a special lifetime achievement Grammy in 2003.
Near the end of her life, her health declined, and here family was involved in a dispute over her care. Her two sons had challenged decisions being made by Etta’s husband, who was the conservator of Etta’s $1m estate. The dispute was reported as settled, with the husband staying on as conservator, and the amount available for her expenses and care being fixed at $350,000. The sons were also to receive a full financial accounting of Etta’s music catalogue.
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Paul Trudelle – Click here for more information on Paul Trudelle.
Being immersed in the world of law, we’re constantly confronted with upsetting and often depressing stories. It feels good to occasionally resurface to hear about a positive story.
In the London Evening Standard, David Cohen writes about the new queen of Soho, a 23 year old, named Fawn James. For those of you who are not familiar with the area, Soho is located in the centre of the West End of London, England, in the City of Westminster.
Fawn James inherited £75 million from her grandfather Paul Raymond, who was well known as Soho’s property tycoon. Paul died approximately one year ago.
In his article, Fawn James is described in a manner that we can all relate to at some point in our life, a student living on a budget. One year later, Fawn is £75 million richer and both her and her family now controls 60 of Soho’s 87 acres.
In her first interview since inheriting her grandfather’s treasure chest Fawn says that her "first mission will be to make Soho greener. We’re looking at retrofitting our entire stock of buildings to make them more environmentally friendly". She’s also committed to her community, "I think it’s important to support charities operating Soho and in the coming months I’ll be assessing which one we want to assist." As she reflects back on her time with her grandfather her only concern now is "to make him proud".
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It appears that the matter may now be at an end. On Tuesday, a South Carolina judge approved a settlement that gives nearly half of his estate to a charitable trust, a quarter to his wife and young son, and a quarter to his six adult children, according to an Associated Press report on the Macleans.ca website.
James Brown died on December 25, 2006. Numerous issues arose following his death. There were allegations of improper management of his estate; a dispute over where and how to bury his body; and an issue as to the entitlement of his wife and son, both of whom came along after his will was made in 2000.
The exact size of the Godfather of Soul’s estate is unknown. His estate was said to be valued at $80m, but subject to substantial debt.
The settlement was reached in January 2009, but the court refused to approve the settlement, and required further information. That approval was granted on Tuesday.
But wait! There may be an encore. There are pending lawsuits by the prior estate administrators, and a former employee. We may not have heard the last of this matter.
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Entertainment media has recently focused its eye on the death of celebrity pop-icon, Anna Nicole Smith. In one of last week’s blog entries Megan Connolly commented on the estate litigation left in her wake.
Today I wish to discuss another personality whose death has made headlines – legendary soul singer, James Brown.
Brown sadly died of heart failure on December 25, 2006. Although it has been almost eight weeks since his death, his body has yet to be buried. This is reportedly due to a dispute between relatives and his former partner, Tommie Rae Hynie over burial procedures and rights to the assets of the estate.
Brown’s Will excludes Hynie and their 5-year-old son. Hynie maintains that she is Brown’s widow and ought to receive half of his estate. Brown’s attorneys claim that the marriage was not official because Hynie was married to another man at the time.
If Brown and Hynie’s marriage is not ultimately recognized, she may be awarded nothing from the estate. Their son, on the other hand, will most likely be entitled to share in the portion of the estate gifted to Brown’s other six children.
It will be interesting to see how and when this dispute resolves itself so that Brown can at long last receive a proper burial. Until then, as the National Post reports, Brown’s body will be held in a temporary crypt in an undisclosed location.