John Singleton was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer best known for directing Boyz n the Hood (1991); for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, becoming the first African American and youngest person to be nominated for the award.
The son of Sheila Ward-Johnson, and Danny Singleton, John was raised and attended schools in South Los Angeles before enrolling in USC’s Filmic Writing program; designed to take students directly into the Hollywood system as proficient writer/directors.
Many of John’s early films, deal with the implications of inner-city violence including Poetic Justice (1993), Higher Learning (1995), and Baby Boy (2001), However he also directed action films such as the remake of Shaft (2000), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), and Four Brothers (2005); recently he co-created the crime drama Snowfall.
John died on April 29 in Los Angeles, nearly two weeks after he suffered a stroke and fell into a coma. He was the father of seven children, however when John’s mother Sheila filed for probate, his Will, drafted in 1993 left everything to his eldest child, daughter Justice Singleton.
In 1993 Justice was his only child, however the Will didn’t expressly exclude his other children therefore they will be able to inherit under California law. Sheila was named the executrix of the Will and probate documents listed the estate assets as $3.8 million, with another $31 million reported to be in a trust.
A trust is a legal relationship where the trustee, holds property (money, real estate, stocks, bonds, collections, business interests, personal possessions and automobiles) for the benefit of the beneficiary.
A trust can be established for the beneficiary during their lifetime, in order to control the distribution of wealth by specifying when and to whom distributions may be made; then for the benefit of others according to the trust instructions. Unlike wills, trusts are private.
Importantly Assets in a trust usually don’t form part of a deceased estate and pass outside of probate, saving time, court fees, and potentially reducing estate taxes as well.
John was in a coma at a Los Angeles hospital after suffering a major stroke; as he had no existing medical directives in place before the stroke Shelia sought a court order to be appointed as temporary conservator in order to make medical and financial decisions for him.
John’s daughter Cleopatra challenged Shelia’s attempt to become conservator denying that her father was in a coma, and accusing her grandmother of trying to keep control of her father’s assets and block out the rest of the family, leading to reports of bickering between family members.
As I have posted before a Will is a planning document that enables you to direct how your assets will be distributed when you die. It is important to make a Will and update it regularly!