Recently, Bob Marley’s widow, Rita Marley, and his half-brother, Richard Booker, settled the legal issues between them. The case is an interesting one and is instructive of a common estate planning pitfall that can lead to arguments and litigation between family members.
Generally, Marley’s family has been very protective about how the late singer’s image and likeness can be used. They have even only supported one official documentary out of fear that the singer’s image might be tarnished. Rita Marley filed a lawsuit against Booker that alleged Booker was using the singer’s image to promote concerts and sell merchandise in violation of the family’s copyrights and trademarks. Booker maintained that before he passed away, Bob Marley had given him permission to do so. Booker filed a counter suit on that basis.
In this case, the sides were able to reach a settlement that resolved the issues between them. The problem is that the family fight occurred in the first place. Bob Marley’s mistake might have been telling one person one thing about his property, but not making it clear in his estate plan that he had done so. These situations often lead to family arguments. For most people the argument will not be about valuable, important image rights. However, even something as minor as telling a child that he or she will receive a particular item of personal property, but not making mention of it in your estate plan can lead to problems for your family.
Davidov Law Group is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.