Blues legend B.B. King was barely laid to rest before rumors of mismanaged money and even murder began to circulate in Nevada courts. The court proceedings involve issues including King’s net worth, his family’s challenge of the executor named in his will, and questionable medical treatment, including an accusation that the executor hastened the musician’s death by poisoning him.
The executor, LaVerne Toney, has been King’s business manager for almost 40 years and held power of attorney over his personal matters as well. King has 11 adult children who survived him and several of them have already been involved in litigation to remove Toney from their father’s affairs. The children allege that King’s estate should be valued in the tens of millions of dollars, but other court papers seem to indicate that the value will be much less. Given his many years in the entertainment business, it is likely that a large part of his estate may involve royalties and publishing rights to his catalog of works.
As with any estate, whether that of a legendary musician or the average person, it is important to address as many of these issues as possible before death. Given an estate involving 11 children and numerous, possibly competing, business interests, it is feasible that the King estate will go through months, if not years, if costly litigation before all issues are resolved. No matter how many millions the estate is determined to be worth, a portion of its value will likely be spent on bringing the distribution of the estate to a conclusion.
Every family’s estate planning issues are specific to their circumstances. The law includes a variety of ways to help create a plan that can avoid the post-death arguments that plague many estates. Perhaps in King’s case, a trust could have been a better vehicle for his situation than a will. A trust can provide for not only the distribution of assets after death, but can also be set up to manage assets during life. Many of the concerns about the mismanagement of King’s money could have been addressed within the structure of a trust.
Regardless of celebrity or net worth, everyone can benefit from an estate plan that best achieves their goals, both before and after death. An estate planning attorney with experience in Nevada law can be a valuable asset in creating that plan.
Source: LA Sentinel, “B.B. King estate fight looms for family group, longtime aide,” Ken Ritter, June 11, 2015