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Probate litigation: Tom Petty’s loved ones at odds

When former rock music icon Tom Petty died of an accidental drug overdose at age 66, it not only sent a ripple of grief among his fans in Illinois and throughout the world, it also sparked contention between his loved ones. The situation prompted probate litigation between his widow and two daughters from a previous marriage. Things recently took a turn for the worse in court when Petty’s widow called the actions of his daughters both erratic and abusive.

The daughters, on the other hand, say their father’s widow has cost them more than $5 million due to her mismanagement of Petty’s estate. Central focus issues in multiple court proceedings between the sisters and their stepmother include intellectual property rights, especially the right to use Petty’s name and image. Royalties and artistic creations are also matters of concern.

Petty’s daughters say their father created a trust before he died. In question is whether the terms of the trust have been properly adhered to as well as whether the language of the trust has been properly interpreted and understood by all parties. Petty apparently wanted his widow to transfer artistic properties of the trust into a limited liability company within six months of his passing. Petty’s daughters say that time has long since come and gone and his widow did not do what she was supposed to do.

Petty also reportedly left instructions that the LLC would be equally managed by his daughters and widow. However, therein apparently lies the problem because Petty’s widow wants to hire a third party to manage the company, stating that she is at a disadvantage. Petty’s widow says her stepdaughters can out vote her at any time because they will have two votes to her one.

An unreleased album of Petty’s has reportedly been delayed due to the probate litigation involving his loved ones. Non-celebrity families in Illinois often encounter similar estate administration challenges. It is a good thing that there are experienced estate law attorney available to help sort out complicated probate issues like those currently in question regarding the Tom Petty estate.