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Muhammad Ali Estate Could Become Contested

As another world famous and world changing superstar passes away, this time Muhammad Ali, yet again come the reports surfacing of estate disputes, what the deceased intended, relatives coming seemingly out of nowhere to make claims, and reminders of how important it is to have an estate plan in place—even if you don’t have the assets that Muhammad Ali did.

Ali May Not Have Estate Documents

It appears that Muhammad Ali may not have a will or an estate plan, leaving the proceeds to his estate up in the air. In addition to the actual funds and tangible property are the continuing rights to his name and likeness. This intellectual property may have the most value, as royalties and licensing for the use of his name and likeness could be worth $50 million. Just last year, Ali’s image was used in an Under Armour advertising campaign.

The rights to his name were sold to a company of which Ali himself retained 20 ownership. The company is expected to be controlled by the estate, but that will require determining who in his estate gets that control, and how the money is divided up.

You may think your name and image don’t have the same value as Ali’s do. But you may have other intangible intellectual property of value. Businesses with a well-known logo, registered patents or trademarks, and plans or ideas are intellectual property and may have a value to them.

Any estate plan should go beyond just physical property, and account for continuing or future royalties or licensing money that comes from intellectual property.

Ali’s Intent Will Be at Issue

Some close to the champ say that during his lifetime, he gave away money as fast as he made it. Some say that he made money just to give it away, thus leaving questions about where he would have wanted his estate to go, had he voiced that intent through estate documents.

Ali also had numerous children from multiple marriages. He was married four times, bearing four children and adopting one. One of Ali’s sons lives in poverty, and has a contentious relationship with Ali’s fourth wife, who also is believed to be the executor of Ali’s estate. This could set up a contested legal battle over the estate and over who gets what.

Once again, this is another lesson on how important an estate plan is when a family is comprised of exes and stepsons and half brothers, and all the relationships that can come from multiple children with multiple marriages. Certainly, it’s normal to have this kind of situation, but it’s also often normal for the people in an extended family to disagree, or not get along. Estate planning can avoid infighting amongst loved ones in extended families.

Don’t leave family members to go to court over an estate, or leave them guessing about what you want to happen. The law may not automatically provide for relatives or charities that you want to provide for, in the absence of written estate documents. Contact Tampa business, asset and probate attorney David Toback to discuss a comprehensive estate plan.

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