Some Florida fans of the late musician Tom Petty may have heard that his family is in a dispute over his estate. In Petty’s will, he created an LLC, Petty Unlimited. He also set up a trust and made his widow the directing trustee. She was supposed to fund the LLC with assets from the trust. She and Petty’s two daughters were then supposed to each get one-third of the assets.
On May 15, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Petty Unlimited. The lawsuit does not specifically name Petty’s daughters individually as plaintiffs. However, it alleges that his widow is attempting to keep the assets out of Petty Unlimited and has set up her own LLC, Tom Petty Legacy. The suit named several defendants plus dozens of co-defendants it says are working with her. The attorney for Petty Unlimited claims that Petty’s intentions were for each of his daughters and his wife to have an equal share in his estate. He says that Petty’s wife is preventing this.
In April, Petty’s wife filed a petition accusing Petty’s daughters of interfering with her role as directing trustee. One of Petty’s daughters also filed a lawsuit alleging Petty’s widow was trying to prevent their involvement in in managing his estate.
As this case demonstrates, estate planning can be particularly complicated when valuable assets are involved. The process of estate administration may feel overwhelming for family members even when this level of conflict and wealth is not involved. A person who has been an appointed as executor is permitted to work with an attorney to take care of taxes and other paperwork involved in managing the estate. This can help prevent costly errors and may make the process more efficient. An attorney may also be able to assist with family disputes.