The administration of a deceased’s estate can bring drama with it, and celebrity status in no way prevents the drama from happening. In fact, you could argue it creates more drama. Take for example the late Tom Petty. After his passing, Petty’s widow, Dana York Petty, became the trustee of the artist’s trust. As you’ll learn, being the trustee can be difficult because of the language related to the trust.
According to Variety, Dana York Petty filed a petition in probate court, asserting that Tom’s daughter, Adria, was attempting to seize control of his estate – specifically, his music catalog. In her petition, she contends that Adria has made things difficult by issuing directives without any sort of consultation with third parties, has flip-flopped on big decisions and has threatened to hinder projects. With these assertions, Dana York Petty provides two unique episodes of Adria attempting to utilize whatever power she has.
First, she claims, Adria and Annakim – both Tom’s children from his first marriage with Jane Petty – have tried to delay some of the upcoming albums featuring their father. The reason? Because the kids think they have the power. According to the filing, Dana York Petty is the sole trustee of Tom’s estate, but the trust orders her to establish an entity to control Tom’s music catalog, along with equal participation from his daughters. The filing adds that in their viewpoint, Adria and Annakim interpret this as giving them a two-thirds majority and because of that, they can claim control.
This became problematic according to Dana York Petty, when Adria wanted to leave “and the Heartbreakers” off of the “Best of Everything” album. She went as far as to write a letter to Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell, founding members of the Heartbreakers, venting towards them. In her letter, she lashes out at them for Tom being surrounded by “selfish, unreliable people and drug addicts.”
If you remember, Tom Petty died from an accidental drug overdose. The autopsy revealed a mixture of Fentanyl, oxycodone, Xanax and other medicine in his body. The late rocker’s lifestyle and the people he was surrounded with clearly left an impact on Adria’s mind.
In addition, the filing asserts that Adria has attempted to delay the release of the “Wildflowers” album, even telling record executives that she would be assuming total control of the estate in April. All of this drama seems to be happening because there wasn’t a clear definition as to how decisions on the catalog are to be made. Do Tom’s daughters have the right to assert a two-thirds majority vote in control of the music catalog, or do they have to work in junction with their step-mother?
At The Probate ProSM, we make sure you’re avoiding this kind of probate court drama – even if your dad or late spouse isn’t a legendary rocker. We’ll take the time to craft an estate plan that is comprehensive, but clear as to who gets what and how much power everyone has over an estate. If you or someone you know is in need of an estate plan, give us a call at 1-(877)-YOUR-FIRM.