Amy Winehouse will tour as a Hologram

Amy Winehouse died in July 2011 from alcohol poisoning aged 27 without a Will. Her estate was valued at around $7 million.

Newspapers and magazines reported that her estate would be worth as much as $20 million. Similarly that she had made a Will following her divorce from ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil. Sadly neither of these was true.

In the United Kingdom (like most jurisdictions) when an unmarried adult without children dies without a Will, their estate is distributed to their surviving parent(s). If no parent is alive, the estate will then be distributed to the decedent’s living siblings in equal shares.

Amy died unmarried and without children, both of her parents are still alive, therefore Amy’s estate passes to her parents Mitch and Janis. According to Court documents Mitch applied for letters of administration.

Amy was still close to her ex-husband, but intestacy rules mean he was not left anything. If Amy had made a Will he could have been left something from the estate. Similarly, Amy may have wanted to leave something to her brother Alex but without a Will, this is not possible.

Amy supported a wide range of charities including Adopt-A-Minefield, Anti-Slavery International, Breast Cancer Campaign, CARE, Children’s Medical Research Institute, , Greenpeace, the Red Cross, Lifeline Oxfam, UNHCR, and UNICEF. Amy couldn’t give any of these organisations bequests from her estate as she died without a Will.

Her family established the Amy Winehouse Foundation(“the Foundation”) launched on what would have been Amy’s 28th birthday to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people. It has developed a Resilience Programme for Schools across the UK to provide education around drugs, alcohol and to assist young people dealing with emotional issues.

A focus of the Foundation is ‘to support the personal development of disadvantaged young people through music’.

Since its launch, the Foundation has recognised Amy’s birthday on the 14th of September each year.

In 2013 the foundation helped curate an exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Camden Town that included among other things merchandise at Amy’s Pop-Up Shop, an art exhibition at the Proud Gallery and various performances.

In 2014, a Statue of Amy created by Scott Eaton was unveiled in Camden Town.

In 2015, an album entitled as Amy’s Yard – The Sessions: Volume 1. The project sees young people with a musical talent mentored to become self-sustaining music artists.

This week it was announced that Amy will be celebrated in a new “immersive” venture, t spearheaded by a performing Hologram of Amy. It has the backing of the Foundation and the blessing of the Winehouse estate with proceeds going to the Foundation.

However, some fans believe that it is an exploitation of her memory that will tarnish her position within British musical history.

Amy’s father has described the project as “a dream for us… her legacy will continue in this innovative and groundbreaking way” 

Back to Black, a new documentary about Amy will be released next month.

Unfortunately, as Amy didn’t leave a Will she couldn’t control the distribution of her assets following her death. Planning for your future by taking out adequate insurance, ensuring that you have powers of attorney, and advance care directives in place; taking the time to understand and manage your superannuation, and importantly making a Will and keeping it up to date is the best thing that you can do so that when your family and friends are going through a stressful time they don’t have to guess your intentions.







Tupac Shakur 22 years after his death Estate litigation continues.

Afeni Shakur Davis, a former member of the Black Panther Party and Administrator of her son Tupac Shakur’s estate following his death in 1996, died in 2016. Her Lawyers believe that the management of Tupac’s estate will not be affected following her death as Afeni appointed Tom Whalley, as trustee of Tupac’s estate in 2013.

It has been reported that those close to the family have complete confidence in his ability and intentions to guide Tupac’s estate going forward as it is reported they believe Whalley is   “Someone who actually had an authentic relationship with Tupac… Things seem more hopeful and positive than they have in the last 20 years.”

At the time of her death, Afeni was in the middle of divorce proceedings from husband Gust Davis who she married eight years after Tupac’s death.

The two never signed a prenuptial agreement, as the couple lived in North Carolina, and according to the laws of the state, what each side is entitled to is solely up to the presiding judge.

It was reported Davis requested alimony payments totalling about half of the money generated by the estate, in addition to other assets purchased by the couple.

However Afeni had set up a trust to control Tupac’s music rights, it has been reported that the trust is very specific about heirs, and the money is going to select charities and family. Her estranged husband, Gust Davis, is not mentioned in the trust — so Tupac’s money and music will not be part of the divorce settlement

In September 1996, Tupac Shakur one of the most influential hip-hop artists was shot multiple times and died from his injuries six days later, aged 25, without a Will.

Tupac’s record Label Death Row Records claimed that he was several million dollars in debt when he died even though he had produced, and reportedly sold more than $60 million worth of records in the last year of his life.

Tupac had barely anything to show for his chart-topping career. He had two cars, didn’t own his home and a little over $100,000 in the bank.

As an intestate under California law, Tupac didn’t have a spouse or children, therefore, his mother, Afeni and father, Billy Garland were entitled to share his estate. Billy was an intermittent presence in his life, the Court had to decide if he had done enough to support and spend time with his son.

Billy and Afeni had never married therefore he failed to meet the test under California law, (often referred to as the “deadbeat dad” law) in order to inherit as an heir of an intestate estate unwed fathers must prove they had a substantial relationship with their child and provided monetary support.

Billy appealed but reached a $900,000 settlement, in which he agreed to forgo all rights to use Tupac’s name or likeness, as the “dead-beat dad” law does not cover those rights.

Estate Litigation

In 1997 Tupac’s estate commenced lawsuits against Death Row, demanding, among other things, the return of more than 150 unreleased master recordings.

A 1998 settlement awarded the tapes to the estate, enabling the release of four posthumous albums.   Afeni has managed Tupac’s estate establishing the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation that benefits from music sales & royalties and the licensing of Tupac’s image.

The performance at Coachella in 2012 by a “hologram” of Tupac occurred because Afeni allowed the use of his image and likeness giving him the honour of being the first deceased performer to appear on stage as a hologram.

In 2011 Tupac’s estate brought in 3.5million dollars is valued at $40 to $50 million and his albums sold more than 75 million copies worldwide.

In 2013, Afeni filed a lawsuit against a company called Entertainment One, claiming it breached a contract to pay Tupac’s estate royalties on “Beginnings: The Lost Tapes,” which was released in June 2007.


While Afeni claimed that Tupac’s estate was owed $1.1 million, it was noted that Entertainment One had purchased the rights to Tupac’s music from Death Row Records following its bankruptcy in 2006.   As a result, Entertainment One also held unreleased master recordings made by Tupac, something that his mother wanted to be returned to his estate.

Early this month Entertainment One was ordered to pay a six-figure amount to the estate, and relinquish control of the unreleased master recordings

The history of recorded music is full of disputes between artists and their record companies however if Tupac had created a Will Afeni wouldn’t have needed to take Court action to establish that Billy was a “deadbeat dad” and was not entitled to a share of the estate. If you have started working it is a good time to make a Will as it will make a difficult time for your loved ones a little easier.

Life Support & the Litigation Friend

I have posted before about the need to discuss with your loved ones and medical professionals your care requirements if at some stage you suffer a catastrophic illness or injury.  By discussing your wishes and completing an Advanced Care Directive, in the event that you are admitted to hospital your doctors can carry out your wishes as you have clearly expressed them in this document.

In June 2017, Y suffered a cardiac arrest leading to extensive brain damage due to lack of oxygen.

His doctors started Clinically Assisted Nutrition and Hydration (CAHN) although if Y regained consciousness, he would be in a vegetative state without the prospect of improvement and would be dependent on others to care for him; specialists diagnosed this as Prolonged Disorder of Consciousness (PDOC).

Y’s wife and children believed that he would not wish to be kept alive given his prognosis, and agreed it would be in Y’s best interests for CANH to be withdrawn, which would result in his death within two to three weeks.

In November 2017 the NHS Trust which provides secondary care including hospital care under the UK National Health Service sought a declaration that

  • When the doctors and the patient’s family agreed that it was not in the patient’s best interests to continue treatment and
  • no civil or criminal liability would result if CANH were withdrawn

it was not mandatory to seek the court’s approval for the withdrawal of CANH from a patient with PDOC

At a directions hearing on November 3, the Court invited the Official Solicitor to act as  Y’s litigation friend in the proceedings (the Official Solicitor makes decisions for people who do not have the mental capacity to represent themselves or instruct a solicitor). The Court ordered that the final hearing be expedited and listed before the Queen’s Bench Division on 10 November, which concluded

“where the clinicians have followed the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and good medical practice, there is no dispute with the family of the person who lacks capacity or others interested in his welfare, and no other doubts or concerns have been identified, there is no requirement to bring the matter before the court.”

The UK High Court granted a declaration that it was not mandatory to seek court approval for withdrawal of CANH from Y where the doctor and Y’s family agreed that continued treatment was not in his best interests.

The Court granted the Official Solicitor permission to appeal directly to the Supreme Court. Although Y died in the intervening period the Supreme Court determined that the appeal should go ahead because of the general importance of the issues raised by the case.

This decision was procedural and provides the circumstances in which court involvement is required for removal of CANH where there is medical and family agreement.

In its judgement dismissing the appeal, the Supreme Court stated that the Official Solicitor did not establish that the common law or the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) gave rise to the mandatory requirement to involve the court to decide upon the best interest of every patient with PDOC before CANH can be withdrawn.

The European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) has established the factors required for the administration or withdrawal of medical treatment and the UK has complied with them in several ways including a legislative and regulatory framework compatible with the requirements of article 2 of the ECHR; requiring doctors to take into account the patient’s express wishes and those of people close to them, as well as the opinions of other medical personnel; as well as the opportunity to involve the Court whether or not a dispute is apparent.

The ECtHR does not believe that a decision to remove CANH from a patient with PDOC being made by a doctor without obligatory court involvement is problematic.

The High Court held that after considering common law or the ECHR, in combination or separately, neither give rise to the mandatory requirement to involve the court to decide upon the best interests of every patient with a prolonged disorder of consciousness before CANH can be withdrawn.

In dismissing the appeal the High Court held that if the provisions of the MCA are followed and if there is agreement upon what is in the best interests of the patient, the patient may be treated in accordance with that agreement without application to the Court.

However, although an application to the Court is not necessary in every case, there shouldn’t be any hesitation about involving the Court where the particular circumstances of the case require such an application.

An Advance care directive is an important part of planning for your future and should be discussed with your loved ones following a careful consideration of your wishes, and preferences for future health care, end of life, and the appointment one or more Substitute Decision-Makers, who can make these decisions if you are unable to do so yourself.




Pablo Picasso​ was really an asshole

Pablo Picasso died in April of 1973 at the age of 91 with an estate including assets estimated to be valued somewhere between $100 million and $260 million. Surprisingly he left no Will, and it took over 6 years and $30million to settle the estate.

Shortly before his death French Inheritance laws changed permitting illegitimate children to be recognised as heirs. His illegitimate son Claude was appointed by the court to administer and distribute the estate amongst five other heirs.

After Pablo’s death, his only legitimate son Paulo and Pablo’s last wife opposed the claims of Claude, Paloma and Maya to a share in the Picasso estate. But French courts recognized the rights of the three — all born out of wedlock —albeit to a lesser share than Paulo and his stepmother. After the court decision, the relationship between the three illegitimate children and Paulo became amicable.

An incredibly prolific artist—he is thought to have produced some 50,000 works throughout his lifetime—Picasso’s legacy has been complicated by the many heirs he left behind. What followed was protracted legal battles over how to exercise their communal right to exploit the Picasso name commercially which was settled by a French court in 1989.

Apart from their collected artworks the most marketable asset of the estate is the licensing of the Picasso name and image and each year the estate conducts multiple lawsuits to fight infringement of the Picasso trademark.

Claude Picasso as legal administrator of Picasso’s estate and the head of the Picasso Administration manages the licensing of Picasso’s name. Each year, much of the Administration’s annual report is dedicated to court cases that have been settled or are pending. Despite their persistence in protecting the artist’s name, there still remain hundreds of illegal brands titled “Picasso” around the world.

In regards to Picasso’s artworks, Claude remains the official authenticator of Picasso’s artworks and receives on average almost 1000 requests for authentication annually. The verification process can be complicated, given the scholarship required and the necessity for Claude to view the works in person.

The market for Picasso works continues to soar with collectors from around the world and a number of exhibitions each year.

Paloma, Picasso’s illegitimate daughter, has used her family name to market perfume and jewellery. Marina Picasso has sold reproduction rights to some 1,000 works by Picasso that she then owned.

To pay off the inheritance tax, the family donated 3,500 artworks, valued at $63 million, to the French government.

Considering the value of his work in both monetary and art-historical terms, many experts wonder why there hasn’t been a stronger effort to set up a centralized authentication committee composed of scholars rather than family.

Another issue is the lack of a definitive catalogue raisonné for the artist —and with reportedly no intention by the Picasso Administration to create one.

If Picasso had created a will his heirs would not have​ had to pay over $30 Million in legal fees and he could have directed his estate to people that he felt deserved it considering he famously fell out with many of his family members and friends.




Peter Brock & the Will Kit

A car once owned and raced by Peter Brock broke an Australian motorsport auction record after it was sold at auction last weekend.

Peter was one of Australia’s best-known and most successful motor racing drivers. In September 2006, while competing in a road race, Peter’s car skidded off a bend and hit a tree; he was killed instantly aged 61.

Peter’s friend and car enthusiast Peter Champion who opened the Brock Museum at Yeppoon, in Central Queensland in 2007, bought most of Peter’s racecars and housed the collection in Yeppoon until the museum was relocated to the Dreamworld theme park in 2015.

All but one of the cars in the collection were bought by an anonymous buyer 5 months ago before being auctioned over the last weekend with Peter’s 1982 Holden Commodore that won the 1982 and 1983 Bathurst 1000 races selling for $2.1 million.

The decision to break up the collection has disappointed Peter’s younger brother, Phil.

“Pete’s still got a huge amount of fans out there and that’s what the cars should be there for is for them to peruse.”

Peter’s former partner, Beverley, said she was comfortable with the decision.

“It will be very sad to see it split up…it doesn’t change anything… they were all Peter’s cars, they will always in essence be Peter’s cars and anyone who is going to spend that amount of money on a car is going to look after it.”

Peter was married twice, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. There were no children of either marriage. Between 1976 and 2005, he was in a de-facto relationship with Beverley they had two children Robert and Alexandra and treated Beverley’s son, James, from a previous relationship as his own child.

Peter and Beverley’s relationship ended and at the time of his death, Peter was in a de facto relationship with and engaged to, Julie Anne Bamford, they had jointly purchased a property at St Andrews – which was mortgaged at the time of Peter’s death.

 In July 1984, Peter had a Will made by his solicitor – the will was validly executed, and provided for specific monetary gifts to Peter’s parents, children, Beverley, and other family members; Beverley and the children could live in the family home until her remarriage or death, or until the youngest of the children turned 18; and left Beverley all furniture including Peter’s trophies and other sporting memorabilia. The residue of the estate was to be distributed to Peter’s parents, Beverley and the children.

 In 2003, Peter’s personal circumstances had changed importantly both his parents had died so Beverley suggested on several occasions that he update his will.

Peter expressed the view that, after he died he would not be around, therefore, had nothing to worry about. Beverley expressed her concern that she would have to  “resolve the mess should Peter die before her, so for all our sakes he should assist me and make the effort.”

Peter completed a “do-it-yourself” will kit leaving blank those parts of the will kit which disposed of his property. Peter told Beverley that, as he trusted her completely, she could complete the remaining sections of the will at the time of his death, that she should then sign and date it, and “he would be more than happy with that”.

Peter then signed the will kit as testator, in the presence of both Beverley and an employee who signed and completed her details in one of the sections reserved for witnesses. Beverley did not witness the will.

As the 2003 Will made no provisions disposing of Peter’s estate. The Court had to decide that if the 2003 Will was valid, and if it was, due to the fact that it named no beneficiaries the estate would be administered in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

In July 2006, Peter brought a will kit to his office and dictated his wishes to an employee who filled out the form. Later that same day, the employee used her rough notes to prepare a hand-written document entitled “The Wishes of Peter G Brock” – however, Peter didn’t sign either document nor was the Will document witnessed.

The Court held that the 2003 Will was not a valid will as it was signed by one, not two, witnesses, therefore, it does not meet the required formalities. However, the Court held that Peter’s mistaken assumption that he could delegate the task of deciding who was to take benefit under the will to someone else does not invalidate the entire will.

Importantly the Court was satisfied it was Peter’s intention that the 2003 Will revoked all previous Wills, including the 1984 Will. Therefore Peter died intestate and the entire estate was left to his biological children Robert and Alexandra who agreed to divide the estate equally with their stepbrother James.

Brock’s partner, Julie commenced a family provision claim against the estate that was later settled out of court.

If a competent legal practitioner had drafted the Will, these problems would not have arisen and Peter’s loved ones would have been spared a great deal of trouble and expense.



Brett Whiteley Estate

Australian Artist Brett Whiteley was a flamboyant and somewhat controversial artist who cultivated a rock star persona, importantly he remains the youngest living artist ever to be bought by the Tate gallery.

Brett died accidentally of a drug overdose in June 1992 with an Estate worth $13 million. Due to his anger toward lawyers following a protracted and bitter divorce settlement he drafted a series of informal Wills that led to expensive litigation in order to clarify and settle his testamentary intentions.

In May 1989, influenced by his acrimonious divorce proceedings, Brett instructed his solicitors to draft a Will he believed would protect his property from his ex-wife. In a later discussion with his sister Brett was disgusted that he had been charged $7000 for this Will, particularly when his sister had made her Will on a form she purchased from a Newsagent.

The January Will

In January 1991 Brett hand wrote a Will leaving various gifts, establishing a travelling scholarship for young artists, and leaving the rest of his Estate to his daughter Arkie.

His Daughter and her boyfriend Christopher Kuhn were present when this was done and it was her recollection that her father had revoked his previous wills with this document. When Arkie asked her father if they should consult lawyers he said

‘No, it’s fine. I’m not going back to any bloody lawyer. No more bloody lawyers. They make a mess of everything.”

As his Daughter was a witness to the Will the Witness-Beneficiary rule would preclude her from inheriting under that Will. 

The Kitchen Drawer Will

His daughter’s then boyfriend Christopher Kuhn gave evidence that in April 1991 Brett could not remember where he put the January document so replicated that document in front of Kuhn who then witnessed it. Brett then placed it in an envelope and taped it underneath the fourth drawer in the kitchen cabinet. Kuhn then made a note in an exercise book so he could remember where the Will was kept.

In November 1991 Brett told his accountant he had changed his Will, his accountant, (who was also named as an executor) expressed his concern as to the validity of the handwritten document and asked Brett to arrange for it to be checked by a solicitor. Brett’s reply to this request was

‘I hate solicitors. They’re always ripping me off. If you think I should go I will.

However the Court accepted that following the execution of the Kitchen drawer document Brett’s intentions never changed and that he hadn’t made any other Will or destroyed or revoked the document he had signed.

Following Brett’s death and funeral in June of 1992 Kuhn and Arkie could not find the Will under the fourth drawer in the kitchen but there were remnants of the tape. Over the next few days the studio was thoroughly searched for the Will without success.

Similarly Kuhn and a friend removed about 60 drawings and five or six paintings Brett had secreted in a false wall of the studio to prevent Wendy getting them during their divorce in the late 1980s.There was concern that Brett’s girlfriend Janice might have been told about the hidden paintings, so they were removed to Wendy’s house. 

The litigation

The Court had to decide if the informal Wills were to be accepted by probate. As neither of the January Will or the Kitchen Drawer Will could be found and notwithstanding that Arkie was the main beneficiary of the estate the court found that her evidence and that of Christopher Kuhn was compelling.

Janice’s lawyer (future Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull) submitted that Brett must have removed and destroyed the Will, as he was uncertain about his intentions – resulting in him dying intestate.

If the Court had ruled Brett died without a will, it then had to decide if Janice had been his de facto wife — a relationship that could have given her a considerable claim on the estate.

However, the Court believed there was overwhelming evidence that from January 1991, Brett’s intentions had remained consistently in favour of his daughter. Similarly there was a strong possibility that someone who had access to the studio could have removed the Will.

The Court held that Brett revoked all previous Wills, with the written document that was taped to the fourth drawer of a kitchen cabinet at the studio, but has not been found. In that will, the bulk of the estate was left to Arkie; Brett’s mother and sister each receive $500,000; the same amount goes to establishing a scholarship for young artists; his old school received a painting, as did Janice.

As the deceased was the cause of these proceedings the Court found that the cost of litigation for all parties was to be paid out of the Estate. Ironically the informal Will mirrored the provisions of a Will that Brett instructed solicitors to draft and was executed in July 1988.

In 1993 Arkie negotiated with the NSW Government for the sale of Brett’s former studio that is now run by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

In 1999, Brett’s mother Beryl Whiteley made funds available to establish a travelling art scholarship in his memory.

Arkie’s Estate

In December 2001 Arkie Whiteley died of cancer following a short illness aged 37. Her mother Wendy inherited the bulk of her daughter $14 million estate.

In the hours before her death, Wendy phoned Arkie’s lawyer, who took instructions and typed up a will on Arkie’s computer. The Will was read to Arkie and executed. The Will appointed her mother Wendy and friend Sarah Ducker as executors.

Her husband, Jim Elliot, who Arkie married two weeks before her death, inherited her Palm Beach house on the condition that he pay Arkie’s cousin $40,000 a year while he owns the house or $400,000 should he sell.

The artworks in her Palm Beach house were left to friends including her previous husband Christopher Kuhn to “be distributed by my executors in their absolute discretion”, raising some concerns among the beneficiaries the type and value of the artwork to be distributed will be decided by to the two executors only.

Wendy received the remainder of Arkie’s estate, including  “interest in the copyright in all paintings, sculptures and other artistic works of my late father”.

With the executor’s year approaching and the estate still not settled it was reported that Jim Elliott threatened legal action to have the two executors removed on the grounds that they have failed to act.  Probate was granted at the end of November 2002, the estate was valued at $14 million.

In the intervening period Wendy has dedicated herself to being a guardian of Brett and Arkie’s legacy through, amongst other things, managing Brett’s estate and promoting his art and the travelling scholarship named in his honor.







Family provision

Geoffrey Steinmet married twice and died leaving the bulk of his estate to the children of his first marriage James and Nicole. He provided his second wife Gayle an indexed annuity of $52,000 per year (“the annuity”). Geoffrey executed the Will a few weeks before he died.

Prior to executing the Will Geoffrey sought and received Gayle’s agreement to its terms. Geoffrey’s Will contained a statement that he wished that his estate remained a whole for his children and grandchildren believing that the annuity enabled Gayle to live comfortably for the rest of her life without “having to dispose of the assets that I have worked my whole life for.”

Gayle seemed to think that the annuity was adequate when the Will was made. She was in a hospital room with Geoffrey and his solicitor. The draft Will was read aloud in her presence and attention was given to the annuity. Geoffrey increased the value of the annuity and asked Gayle: ‘Are you happy with that?’ To which she replied ‘Yes, but I keep telling you Geoff that I do not want anything from your estate’.

Following Geoffrey’s death Gayle became aware of the size of the estate and sought an alteration to the Will to leave her a sum of $2 million.

Geoffrey and Gayle began their relationship in 1988 but they did not marry until 2011 and he died in 2016.  Gayle had bought her own home in 1991, and had her own assets and additional income. During their relationship she was unaware of the precise extent and value of Geoffrey’s business and investments.

The disparity between the annuity and the gift to James and Nicole is considerable. But family provision cases are not simply about a comparison between the size of the estate and the amount of the provision that has been made for each beneficiary; or whether the annuity is fair or reasonable; or whether the deceased was wise or just. The question for determination is whether the annuity is not ‘adequate’ in all of the circumstances for her ‘proper’ maintenance or advancement in life.

The Court decided that the annuity will enable Gayle to continue to live in the home that she has owned since 1991. She will not be in a position to live extravagantly, but she did not do so when married. James and Nicole had a different relationship with their father and they have different needs.

The Court believed that Gayle did not establish that the provision given to her in the will is not adequate for her proper maintenance or advancement in life. She will not have the benefits, the security, the holidays, the comforts and the additional financial advantages that she enjoyed during her relationship with the deceased. But respect must be given to the judgment of a capable testator who knows better than anyone else ‘the virtues and failings of the members of his family’. And the Court must give sufficient weight to the principle of freedom of testamentary disposition.

Gayle argued that a testator cannot rule from the grave. However the Court believed that such a statement is correct if and only if, the application of the statutory language to the facts of the case warrants the intervention of the court.

After considering Gayle’s submissions the Court came to the conclusion that rewriting the Will to set aside the annuity and replacing it with a lump sum would have been anathema to Geoffrey’s Will.