TOM PETTY'S FAMILY FEUDING OVER HIS ESTATE
June 7, 2019
Since his death in October 2017, Tom Petty's family has feuded over the late singer's estate. California residents who are creating their estate plans could learn something from the details of this celebrity case. The dispute revolves around a trust established by Petty, the Thomas Early Petty Living Trust, and some potentially contradictory provisions in it. Tom Petty's widow has alleged that two of his daughters are unjustly demanding control of certain intellectual property.
The daughters also filed lawsuits, theirs alleging that the trust language gives them equal control with the widow regarding trust property. The most valuable property in the trust is Tom Petty's artistic library, as well as his name and image, all of which were transferred by the terms of the trust into a new limited liability company. The daughters have alleged that the widow and other parties have stolen Petty's intellectual property, usurped corporate opportunities, engaged in unfair competition and breached a fiduciary duty.
An attorney for the widow has called the most recent lawsuit destructive and frivolous. The trust says that the widow and the two daughters are entitled to equal participation in managing the LLC. The widow points out that equal control divided among the three parties would mean the two daughters could outvote her with abandon, and proposes the LLC be managed by a third party professional manager.
In cases when family members have a conflict regarding the distribution of a loved one's estate, an attorney could provide assistance. Legal counsel with experience in estate administration and probate law may help by examining the existing trust documents and developing a strategy to pursue assets or protect the estate. The lawyer might argue on behalf of the client during probate hearings or other legal proceedings.