Nevada fans of late singer Tom Petty may be surprised to learn about news of ongoing family drama concerning his estate. Petty’s widow is in a probate battle with the singer’s daughter. It’s a fight that could also affect the release of future albums from the “I Won’t Back Down” singer’s catalog. Petty’s widow filed a petition in a Los Angeles probate court alleging that the late singer’s daughter has attempted to take control of his estate.
The legal fight involves a daughter from Petty’s first marriage, which ended in 1996. He remained married to his second wife from 2001 until his death in 2017 of an accidental drug overdose. Since that time, two compilations have been released, a boxed set and a greatest hits album. There are plans for additional releases, one of which is a 25th-anniversary edition of a 1994 solo album by Petty that would include unreleased tracks. However, these plans are no longer on solid ground.
According to the court filing, Petty’s widow was named as sole trustee. The trust requires her to set up an entity to control her late husband’s music catalog. It also stipulates that there should be “equal participation” by Petty’s two daughters. The daughters believe “equal participation” means they can take full control with a two-thirds majority. The widow thinks a professional manager should handle Petty’s music with consent from all involved parties. The petition she filed would give her control of Petty’s catalog.
An estate planning lawyer isn’t always able to prevent unexpected legal fights when it comes time to figure out who is controlling certain assets. However, an attorney may advise a client with significant assets they wish to protect to be cautious with how terms in key estate documents are phrased. Doing so might prevent confusion or misinterpretation by named beneficiaries or heirs.