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THE TOM PETTY ESTATE: A CAUTIONARY TALE IN BUSINESS SUCCESSION PLANNING

When a celebrity’s death hits the newswires, it’s often immediately followed by reports of the size of the deceased’s estate and the identity of the beneficiaries.   In addition, not infrequently public battles among the beneficiaries ensue.  Some disputes are the result of the simple (yet, significant) error of dying without an estate plan, as in the Prince estate.  Others provide specific lessons demonstrating the need for attention to detail when creating an estate plan, such as in Tom Petty’s estate.

Tom Petty was a historically-acclaimed singer-songwriter and record producer, who performed as a solo artist and as the lead singer for the Heartbreakers.  Upon his death in October of 2017, his trust directed the trustee, his second wife, to establish an entity to be used to hold and control Petty’s sizable and valuable music catalog.  The terms of the trust ascribing control of the entity provide, as follows:

Missouri Court Of Appeals Holds That Attorney-In-Fact Violated Fiduciary Duty

With research and drafting assistance from Washington University School of Law student, Kelsey DeLong.

In Estate of Lambur, the Missouri Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether an attorney-in-fact is permitted to gift the principal’s property to herself when the gift is not expressly authorized in the power of attorney.

In 2005, Verna Irene Lambur (“Irene”) executed a durable power of attorney naming her nephew’s wife, Anna Stidham (“Anna”), and Jackie Johnson (“Jackie”) as her attorneys-in-fact.  The power of attorney granted Irene’s attorneys-in-fact the following power:

To establish, change or revoke survivorship rights in property or accounts, beneficiary designations for life insurance, IRA and other contracts and plans, and registrations in beneficiary form; to establish ownership of property or accounts in my name with others in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship and to exercise any right I have in joint property; to