Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Piece of Britney

When Britney Spears had her breakdown in 2008 (think shaved head and window smashing), her father and attorney became her conservators. In Ohio, they would be known as guardians. They manage both her physical well being and her finances. As such, they make sure she takes her medicine for her unspecified illness as well as manage her career.

In recent years, Britney, who has been described as shy has not testified at hearings about continuing the conservatorship. She reportedly is only interested in seeing her sons. Her father receives 1.5% of the $17.5 million annual revenues from her Planet Hollywood shows and the same cut from the merch sales. Her court appointed attorney has received $2 million in fees since 2008 and the other conservators have received $6.7 million.

Three brief points:

1. Britney clearly needed someone to assist her in 2008 while she was crumbling. She is likely still alive, while Michael Jackson and Prince are not, because of that.

2. Guardianships can be temporary and Britney's seems to be a perfect example of temporary intervention being all that is required. She should have the right to make stupid decisions on her own.

3. I doubt that I am the only one who read the NYT article who thought that Britney was nothing more than a trained seal performing at the behest of her inner circle for the reward of seeing her sons.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore


Frank Zappa was an eccentric musician who died in 1993. He was survived by his wife and four children - Ahmet, Diva, Dweezil, and Moon. (ed note: he was early in on odd names for celebrity children). For the past decade, Dweezil has played his father's music on a concert tour titled "Zappa Plays Zappa." After Zappa's widow (and Dweezil's mother) died, Ahmet and Diva became trustees of the family trust and have told Dweezil that he no longer has permission to use the title "Zappa Plays Zappa" without paying $150K each time he performed a song owned by the trust. The concert tour will be titled "Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa" this summer.
Several points:
1. The selection of a trustee is vitally important. A corporate trustee would likely be more onerous than the Zappa siblings and extract as much money as possible from Dweezil for performing his father's music.
2. There is no word on how much his mother made Dweezil pay the trust for the use of the music. Odds are that it was minimal.
3. Dweezil is correct that the new tour name "does not exactly roll off the tongue."
4. Abel and Cain were unavailable to comment on the sibling rivalry.
5. My first rock concert was Frank Zappa at the Armory Fieldhouse in 1978. How my musical tastes have changed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Controversy

As mentioned the other day, Prince did not leave a will. A Minnesota court today appointed a corporate trust company as special administrator to manage his affairs and identify his heirs (I can help - his sister, 3 surviving half siblings, and the children of his 2 deceased half-siblings will inherit under law). His estate is rumored to be worth $300 million. 

Three brief points: 

1. A bank trustee is perfect for this role when no family members have experience in managing such a large amount of assets. 

2. I hope the trustee does not quickly resume Prince's habit of sending take down notices to Youtube for all of his videos posted in recent days. His Super Bowl performance is worth 12 minutes of your time. 

3. Did anyone truly believe that Michael Jackson, who left a will, would provide for his death in a better manner than Prince?


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Purple Mess?

Reports are surfacing that Prince did not leave a will. Of course, it is ludicrous to expect someone to present his will one business day after his death. Still, his longtime attorney and friend said that he did not prepare a will for his Purple Majesty because Prince thought he would live to be 1,999. It is unlikely another attorney prepared a will for Prince. He is survived by a sister and three half-siblings.
Three quick points:
1. Live to be 1,999? At some point the attorney/friend has to say, "Dude, the average American lives to be 78. Add fifteen years for taking care of yourself. Tell me who should inherit your sizable estate and let's write it down."
2. Under Ohio law, his estate would pass equally to his sister and half sister (plus any children of his dead half-siblings).
3. If the attorney for Harper Lee were appointed as Executor, we would see various outtakes released as newly discovered material and presumably titled "1998."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Musicians.

In light of Prince's untimely death, the below chart is fascinating. Most common age of death for pop stars is 56. Mercifully, the trend line is up.  Full story here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Paul Walker, Sumner Redstone, and Tom Benson Updates

Briefly updating three stories previously mentioned.

1.  Paul Walker’s teenaged daughter settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $10 million against the driver of the Porsche in which he was riding at the time of his death in 2013.  The settlement actually occurred nearly 18 months ago, but was only recently reported.  Her lawsuit against Porsche for manufacturing an allegedly defective vehicle is still ongoing.  

2.   Sumner Redstone settled the lawsuit filed by his former girlfriend, Manuela Herzner, questioning his capacity to remove her as his health care surrogate and presumably his capacity to revise his will to omit her.  She was allegedly slated to receive $50 million plus an expensive house.  The settlement is reportedly for less than $70 million.   

3.  Last, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that the court records regarding Tom Benson’s competency hearings should remain sealed and unavailable to the public.  After the Harper Lee probate judge sealed her estate proceedings, it seems that Southern courts have a proclivity for privacy while their predecessors acted in hooded robes for their secrecy.  



  

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hey, New Jersey, Your Tax Base Is Too Narrow

David Tepper is a hedge fund manager whose company is located in New Jersey.  He is also a resident of the Garden State (misnomer alert). He recently announced that he was moving his corporate headquarters and his personal residence to Florida.  The NJ state budget director then stated that this move could affect the amount of tax revenues generated by NJ.  

For the record, NJ has the highest real estate taxes in the country, a state estate tax rate of 16%, only a $675,000 exemption for estate taxes (lowest/worst in the country), and a top income rate of 9%. Florida has no income tax and no estate tax, no Newark or Camden, but plenty of sunshine.  Some NJ legislators wish to revise the state tax code to retain residents like Tepper while others believe his move and others are a "blip" and do not warrant revision of the tax rates.

Three quick points:

1.  If the state is so dependent on the income of one individual, its tax base is too narrow and should be expanded to include more residents.

2.  Those NJ politicians who tell NJ residents to "fuhgeddaboudit" the NJ income and estate tax rates because they do not matter to people are delusional.

3.  Note to Bernie Sanders supporters, you can only tax people so much before they change their behavior to reduce their tax burden.