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Billionaire mogul’s estate the subject of California court battle

Recently, we discussed the battle over music legend James Brown’s estate among those involved in his complicated personal life. Now the estate of another wealthy and colorful man, billionaire mogul Kirk Kerkorian, is the source of a legal battle here in California nearly three years after his death at 98 years old in June 2015. The state’s attorney general is even involved.

Kerkorian is known for, among other things, envisioning the future of Las Vegas back in the post-World War II era and for buying MGM studios multiple times. The man who didn’t get beyond the eighth grade was at one point reportedly the wealthiest person in Los Angeles.

Kerkorian left most of his approximately $2 billion-dollar estate to various charities. He had appointed three people, including his business partner, to distribute the funds within three years. As that deadline approaches, things are heating up.

Kerkorian’s fourth wife, Una Davis, who was legally married to him when he died, is claiming that she owed one-third of his estate as his widow. This is despite the fact that she reportedly signed a waiver agreeing that, in exchange for $10 million, she wouldn’t seek any money from his estate. The two lived together less than two months, according to Kerkorian’s business partner.

Davis is claiming that Kerkorian wasn’t able to make informed decisions when the agreement was drafted and that those around him had undue influence on him. The executor was granted the ability to challenge her demand by an appeals court last month. It has yet to be determined whether a trial is necessary to settle the matter.

As noted, the state attorney general is also involved in the estate battle. That’s because of the considerable amount of funds bequeathed to non-profit organizations and the impact that the decision on the disbursement of those funds would have on them.

No matter how well crafted an estate plan may be, when there are considerable funds at stake, competing interests and an elderly decedent, things can get messy. California estate planning attorneys can provide necessary legal guidance to anyone involved in one of these battles.

Source: Hollywood Reporter, “The Battle Over MGM Mogul Kirk Kerkorian’s $2 Billion Estate,” Eriq Gardner, Feb. 14, 2018

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