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The 33rd anniversary of the death of Bob Marley recently passed. Meanwhile, the fight over the estate of Mr. Marley, who died on May 11th, 1981, continues in the English courts. Ownership of some of the songs written and recorded by Bob Marley will be argued at the Chancery Division of the High Court in London. Two of Marley’s best-known songs, No Woman, No Cry and War, are at stake.
Marley was a musical pioneer with his reggae music that gained an international following. However, Mr. Marley did not leave a will, apparently because of his religious beliefs. The Rastafarian view of death and the afterlife kept Mr. Marley from any estate planning. In the Rastafarian belief, life is eternal and reincarnation is imminent.
As a result he created a lengthy probate mess that has continued for decades and is not over yet. There have been numerous lawsuits and probate court proceedings in Jamaica, the United Kingdom, and in the United States.
It is said that Mr. Marley’s net worth in life reached an estimated $30 million, but the value of his estate continued to grow after his death. It is estimated that in 2012 alone the Marley estate produced about $18 million.
All the fighting over money seems ironic given the messages of peace and love that Mr. Marley spread through his music. Much of the fighting could have been prevented with some good estate planning. Even if he could not execute a last will and testament, a living trust could have helped avoid the many legal battles over his estate.
At least one Ohio Probate Court has upheld a last will and testament made and signed on a tablet. Judge James Walther of the Lorain County Probate Court has admitted to probate an electronic will written and signed on a Samsung Galaxy tablet. The witnesses to the will testified in probate court in support of the will. In fact, at least six persons testified as to the validity of the will. No one objected to its admission. Even the parents of the deceased person did not object, despite the fact that pursuant to Ohio statutory law (ORC § 2105.06) they would have inherited all if there was no will.
The Court found that the tablet will constituted a “writing” and was properly signed under Ohio statute (ORC § 2107.03). The Court also found that the witnesses provided sufficient evidence to establish this “writing” as the deceased person’s last will and testament.
This was a case of first impression in Ohio and we are likely to see more of these types of wills. However, this does not mean this is a good way to make a will, at least at the present time. There are many possible pitfalls and practical problems with making a will on a tablet or other computing device. First off there is the problem of preserving the electronic will in an acceptable format. There is also the impracticality of having multiple witnesses available and willing to testify in support of such a will when the time comes. And other courts may disagree with Judge Walther’s ruling.
The court case referred to above was In re Estate of Javier Castro, Lorain County Probate Case No. 2013 ES 00140, June 19, 2013 Judgment Entry.
An Ohio woman changed her name to Sexy recently. Apparently the application filed in Probate Court showed reasonable and proper cause for changing the woman’s name to
Sexy, as required under the Ohio Revised Code, or at least the Licking County Probate judge found so.
Estate executors have duties that they must perform, or they will be removed by the court. The Summit County Probate Court is in the process of removing the executor of radio host Howie Chizek’s estate for malfeasance. The Court also denied his requested fees.