Tom Petty has been one of my all time favorite artists. His music is legendary and people across the globe still listen to it everyday. His influence on rock music will live on forever, but settling his Estate is another matter altogether.
Petty’s daughter Adria is fighting a legal battle over his estate with his widow, Dana York. The murky language in his Trust Documents are being interpreted differently between the parties and their lawyers, and millions will be wasted on court and legal fee’s. It sounds like the courts will make decisions that should have been in the hands of Petty himself, were he given proper legal counsel and spent the time to understand what he was doing (Article found here). The lesson here is not just to have an Estate Plan, but to hire a highly regarded, experienced lawyer. The more complicated your affairs are (especially when you own businesses and have children who work in them) the more you need expert advice from a team of advisers, starting with the Estate attorney and including your CPA and your Wealth Manager. If you need good referrals to any of these professionals, please let me know. I have a very strong network of reputable professionals who understand business succession and complex family business matters.
To safeguard your own family from useless contention and expense like Tom Petty’s is going through, set things up properly and review what you’ve got regularly and revise as necessary, so your family has a better chance of staying in tact after you pass.