As you may know, Lisa Marie Presley passed away on January 12, at the age of 54. Only three weeks later, this matter reached the court, as Lisa’s mother, Priscilla, filed a petition disputing an amendment made to the trust in 2016. The petition states that Lisa Marie Presley removed her mother, Priscilla and former business manager as co-trustees, and replaced them with her children Riley and Benjamin. Benjamin died in 2020, which was the last amendment, making Riley the sole Trustee.
Priscilla’s court filing is questioning the authenticity of the amendment made to the living trust. This is because Priscilla’s name was misspelt in a document supposedly signed by Lisa Marie, her daughter. Also, Lisa Marie’s signature does not closely resemble her typical signature, which points to the fact that the document may be fraudulent.
It would seem that there was no separate Will, and the living trust Lisa Marie had created, served as the Will document. A living trust or Revocable Trust, is part of an Estate Plan, allowing a person to control their assets while they are still alive. When a person dies, their assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Trust.
What is a Trustee?
The role of the Trustee is that they have the pen to the checkbook, and maintain control of the Trust. It seems that Priscilla is concerned about who may now have control of the Trust. If Lisa was her own Trustee and Priscilla was only the successor trustee, depending on state laws, it might not be a requirement for successor trustees to be notified.
With an Irrevocable Trust however, there are usually 3 different people involved. The Grantor creates the trust, the Trustee maintains control of the trust, and the beneficiaries would receive the assets in the trust. Usually, when you name somebody to be a Trustee, the Trust document and the law require for the Trustee to receive notice if they have been removed as a Trustee. This is why Priscilla is questioning why she was not notified. If Priscilla was only the successor trustee of Lisa Marie’s revocable trust, Priscilla may not have a claim.
We may never know the outcome if this is a Trust case, since Trust matters are kept private. Regarding the authenticity of the amendment to the trust, I urge caution with regard to the validity of the documents you sign. This is because in some states, witnesses may not be required when trusts are notarised. However this creates inconsistencies when the legal requirements are different in each state.
Wills can be validly executed with two witnesses and they are also notarised. A Power of Attorney (POA) document is a lifetime document. It allows you to name somebody to make decisions on your behalf, and it must also be notarised. At our firm, we ensure that we have two witnesses when Trusts are notarised too, to ensure they are validated.
Some lessons we can take from this are:
- The people that you named your documents matter – including those people who will be your decision makers if you become incapacitated or die.
- Working with the right lawyer who focusses on Estate Planning, is preferable.
- Using the correct estate planning tools is important.
We Can Help You
I encourage you to come to one of our Estate Planning and Elder Law Workshops. At our workshops, we tell you about estate planning tools, Taxes and long term care issues. We’ll discuss Asset Protection from your kids potential issues, like divorce and lawsuits. You can register for our workshops on our website. We are a proudly education first law firm, providing the free education and helping you to make an informed decision. Our goal is to offer you great estate planning at a reasonable fee. A good estate plan must honor your life, protect your resources, set your kids up for life. The plan must also work today and in the future.
If you want to watch the YouTube Video which relates to this blog, click HERE. This video has had over 7,370 views in the last 3 weeks!