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Presley Case Shows Importance of Noticing the Small Things in Estate Documents

December 1, 2023
Presley Case Shows Importance of Noticing the Small Things in Estate Documents

(Originally published on LinkedIn on February 23, 2023)

Priscilla Presley, mother of the recently-deceased Lisa Marie Presley and former wife of iconic performer Elvis Presley, is disputing a 2016 amendment to her daughter’s living trust.  The amendment removed the elder Presley as a trustee, thereby transferring control of the estate – essentially the Estate of Elvis Presley – to the deceased’s children (Priscilla’s grandchildren).  The papers filed in a California court seek nullification of the amendment on several grounds, most notably irregularities in the appearance and nature of Lisa Marie’s purported signature on the document.

POINT TO PONDER: This case illustrates the importance of careful scrutiny of key estate documents when they are received.  Often, the paperwork will reveal critical information.  A misspelled name, an inconsistent date, a misplaced signature – all these may be innocent OR indicators that investigation is needed.

SIDENOTE: The litigants in this case should not underestimate Elvis’ former wife.  When Presley’s estate was almost depleted because of unscrupulous business dealings by the singer’s manager, Priscilla litigated the issue of the publicity rights of dead celebrities.  Her landmark case decades ago firmly established the existence of those rights and at the same time breathed new life into the moribund Presley estate, which continues to receive millions of dollars annually in Elvis-related royalties.

This case has since been settled.

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