Unlike other recent artists who have passed, Tom Petty left behind an estate plan, albeit with its own unique set of problems.
As a recent article from Variety.com explains, Tom Petty left a Trust that was funded with his catalog of music. His widow was named as the Trustee, but Mr. Petty also gave his two daughters an interest in the decisions about what was done with his catalog.
As you can imagine, Mr. Petty’s wishes, when put into action, created conflict instead of harmony.
His daughters and widow are not aligned, and a Court must now intervene to determine whether the daughters simply get a voice by which they can express their wishes or if the terms of the Trust effectively allow them a vote on the matter of his catalog. If the Court decides that the daughters get a vote, assuming they are aligned, they can now veto the actions of the Trustee as it relates to the catalog. Although they are not named officially as Co-Trustees, a Court may find that Petty’s intent was to give them a right to decide, effectively appointing them as Co-Trustees when it comes to his catalog.
This is an example of why it is so important to make sure your wishes are clearly stated in each of your estate planning documents.