Michael Jackson’s Failed Trust
Michael Jackson created a family trust, but he either forgot or was not advised to transfer his assets into the trust! A startling number of trusts are created and then left unfunded, which destroys the purpose of the trust and usually leads to property inheritance disputes. In the case of a home, a new deed must be prepared that transfers ownership of the property from your name into the trust’s name. The transfer must be signed and recorded. Because Jackson never took the step of moving his assets into the trust, his family had to go through probate court and expose all of his dirty laundry to the public eye. If the trust had been properly funded, probate wouldn’t have been necessary.
Katherine Hepburn’s empty house
After she passed, actress Katharine Hepburn’s New York townhouse was listed for sale, in accordance with her will. However, the real estate agent recalls being mortified to learn that before putting it on the market, Hepburn’s heirs had stripped the Turtle Bay Gardens home of all personal possessions and painted the walls white! It was as if they had erased Katherine Hepburn from the house, which, whether done knowingly or not, decreased the value of the home considerably.
Luckily, Hepburn had chosen her executor and real estate agent carefully and they remedied the property inheritance dispute byre-printing old photos of the elegant actress and placing them in the rooms where the pictures had been taken, reminding buyers of the starlet’s presence in the home. It worked, and the unit sold for around $4 million.
Howard Hughes’ unsettled estate
Howard Hughes, the billionaire aviator, engineer, industrialist, film director, producer, and playboy, died in 1976. However, his estate is still the subject of property inheritance disputes, in particular from Melvin Dummar, a Utah gas station owner who insists that Hughes left him a sizable inheritance after Dummar allegedly rescued Hughes from the side of a Nevada highway. Despite being worth an approximate $2.5 billion, no will was found upon his death, and his estate was eventually distributed to 22 cousins in 1983.
Dummar claims that Hughes himself showed up to deliver a handwritten will, leaving him approximately $156 million. This handwritten will was specifically found to be a forgery in Nevada in 1978. In January 2007, Dummar filed a claim to the estate again, this time in Utah, but his case was dismissed. Now, thirty one years after Howard Hughes’ death, Dummar has filed again in Nevada for another try at obtaining some of Hughes’ estate.