From today’s CNN comes this distressing story…
Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, two of Dr. Martin Luther King’s children are suing their brother, Dexter, the Executor of their father’s estate, accusing him of wrongfully taking money from both of their parents’ estates.
They allege that Dexter took “substantial funds” out of Coretta Scott King’s estate and “wrongfully appropriated” money from their father’s estate.
Bernice King is the administrator of their mother’s estate. Dexter King, the suit says, controls their father’s estate, which is registered as a Georgia corporation.
All three children are shareholders in that corporation.
The lawsuit names Dexter King and the corporation as defendants. It alleges that last month, the defendants “converted substantial funds from the estate’s financial account at Bank of America for their own use.”
“I can’t tell you that he’s gone out and used corporate assets for his own living expenses,” the attorney said. “What I can tell you for certainty is that by not providing Martin and Bernice with information about how the corporation is using its assets, he is essentially using those assets, appropriating those assets for his own benefit.”
The plaintiffs’ attorneys would not estimate the size of either estate. But one, Jock Smith, noted that a collection of King’s manuscripts and other items was sold in 2006 for a reported $32 million.
I (and I imagine most of my colleagues) will be keeping an eye on this one. While not likely to produce any revolutionary precedent, its hard to argue against these estate’s notability.
This is Joe Adams as seen while being deposed in late 2004:
Watching the video of his deposition Joe really seems as unhappy as he looks in this picture… But, in his defense, its hard work dodging reasonable questions and generally sounding like a jackass.
Joe is the single executive in charge of the Ray Charles Foundation which, according to this article in the LA Times “has fallen under the scrutiny of the of the California attorney general’s office, which at one point objected to its control by a single executive, without an independent board.” A reasonable objection if you ask me. Mr. Adams is also under the scrutiny of Ray Charles’ children – 10 of them from 10 different mothers. <– that’s not a typo. I guess they didn’t want to highlight that little tidbit in the movie. Anyways…
The children tell the following story:
Shortly before Christmas 2002, Ray Charles called a meeting of his 12 children at a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport. Ten of them, ranging in age from 16 to 50 — with 10 mothers among them — listened as their father told them he was mortally ill and outlined what they could expect from his fortune.
Most of Charles’ assets would be left to his charitable foundation. But $500,000 had been placed in trusts for each of the children to be paid out over the next five years, according to people at the meeting and a trust document.
Yet Charles’ description left so much to the imagination that some of the children came away with the impression that he meant to leave them $1 million each. Charles also hinted that there would be more for them “down the line,” which some interpreted to mean they would inherit the right to license his name and likeness for profit.
What is most incredible is that “Trust documents and the only known copy of Charles’ will are silent on the rights to his image[.]” That, is incredible.
Check out the story to read the rest of the sordid details.
Thanks again Professor for brining this one to my attention.