There are countless examples of how a poorly worded or ambiguous will can lead to battles among heirs — even for years after a person’s death. If some parties think that the trust assets are not being appropriately handled, then the case could be tied up in case for years. In some cases, however, some of those assets might already be more or less gone.
Singer James Brown’s name has constantly been in the headlines since his death in December 2006 because of his estate. Brown’s will, which he signed about six years before his death, specified that most of his estate go to an irrevocable trust for the benefit of educating poor children in Georgia and South Carolina. Three men, none of them related to Brown, were named as trustees.
One of those trustees was recently ordered to give a mansion that he bought in Honduras to the trust fund. The man resigned as a trustee in 2007 and bought the mansion for nearly $900,000 in cash. In total, more than $7 million of the $12 million he earned from the trust was disputed.
He has already run into legal trouble over his trusteeship. In 2009, he was jailed for three months for not paying a court-ordered $400,000 back to the trust fund; in 2011, he was sentenced to home confinement for taking more money from the trust than he was permitted.
The singer’s daughter said that the restitution will help the trust, which might have collapsed otherwise. Regardless, this seems unlikely to put the drama to rest completely.
Source: The Augusta Chronicle, ” Former James Brown trustee ordered to turn over mansion to musician’s trust fund ,” Meg Mirshak, May 19, 2014