When someone famous passes away, it is still possible for his or her estate to continue earning money. Consequently, the deaths of many celebrities give rise to litigation based on estate planning documents, such as wills and trusts, because their beneficiaries often stand to lose or gain a great deal of money.
Recently, a lawsuit was filed in relation to the will of a popular singer. No, it wasn’t Michael Jackson. Instead, it was Ellen Naomi Cohen, better known as Cass Elliot or Mama Cass of the 60’s music group The Mamas & the Papas. Although she died in 1974, a lawsuit was recently filed in regard to a supposedly lost will that had been drafted in 1967.
The new lawsuit claims that the firm that drafted the 1967 will of Mama Cass either lost or claimed to have lost the will. In either event, since the will could not be found in 1974, the estate of Mama Cass was passed on in its entirety to her daughter under intestacy laws. Under the terms of the 1967 will, it appears that one-third of that estate should have gone to Bess Cohen, Mama Cass’ mother.
The lawsuit is being brought by a brother and sister of Mama Cass, both of whom stood to inherit a share of that one-third interest in Cass’ estate upon the death of their mother. According to the lawsuit, Cass’ estate has produced more than one million dollars in income since the 1980’s.
In response to the lawsuit, the firm that supposedly had lost the will claims that the allegations of concealment or fraud are absurd. They also claim that there is no evidence to support those allegations and even if there were, such claims would be barred by a statute of limitations.
Source: The National Law Journal, Mama Cass’ siblings sue over alleged lost will, Leigh Jones 1/7/11