Lady Gaga Sued

Lady Gaga Sued for Not Paying $500,000.00 to Dog Thief Accomplice

California is widely considered top ten in almost every category. This includes consistently topping the list for being one of the most litigious states in our nation. 

Yes. In California you could be sued for just about anything. Remember the movie Liar Liar starring Jim Carrey? If you are like me, it is one of my all-time personal favorites and the exchange between Fletcher (Jim Carrey) and his legal assistant Greta (played by wonderful Anne Haney) is sometimes comically accurate of our legal system: 

Greta: A couple years ago my friend had a burglar on her roof, a burglar. He fell through the kitchen skylight, landed on a butcher’s knife cutting his leg. The burglar sued my friend, he sued my friend. And because of guys like you HE WON. My friend had to pay the burglar $6,000. Is that justice?

Fletcher: No. I’d’a’ got him ten.

Here, we have a not so unsimilar situation where Lady Gaga is being sued for the $500,000.00 reward she promised for the return of her French Bulldogs- by the alleged accomplice to the underlying dog thief and attempted murder of Lady Gaga’s dog walker. 

Amazingly, the alleged accomplice, Jennifer McBride, is suing in Los Angeles County Superior Court for breach of contract and fraud alleging that Lady Gaga never paid the $500,000.00 reward which was offered at “no questions asked.” In the complaint, she argues that reward was offered at “no questions asked,” and Lady Gaga failed to pay. She is also asking for punitive damages.

Back in December 2022, McBride pled no contest to one count of receiving stolen property and received a two-year probation sentence. Unfortunately, pleas of no contest are generally not admissible in a civil matter; however, she will not be able to navigate through the discovery process without getting slammed with this inconvenient truth.

Among the many defenses Lady Gaga will have at her disposal, one of the biggest we see is the doctrine of unclean hands. In General, one who comes into equity must come with clean hands. A court will neither aid in the commission of a fraud by enforcing a contract, nor relieve one of two parties to a fraud from its consequences, where both are in pari delicto (Latin for in equal fault). Unconscientious conduct in the transaction may give rise to the defense.

Unlike Greta’s friend in Liar Liar, we believe the outcome in Lady Gaga’s matter is going to much different. If somehow this matter survives a motion for summary judgment based on the unclean hands defense and many others, we do not see a judge or jury looking very favorably toward McBride. 

We hear at Grismer|Patterson, LLP are a full service law firm. We prosecute and defend all types of Trust Litigation and Civil Litigation matters ranging from Personal Injury, Breach of Contract, Business Disputes, Trust and Will Contests, etc. If you want us to evaluate your case, contact our office and set up a free consultation. 

Heath Ledger Estate

Everyone remembers the tragic death of Heath Ledger in 2008 from an accidental overdose at
the young age of 28. His acting as the joker in “The Dark Knight” is unparalleled, even by the
1989 rendition by Jack Nicholson. My wife remembers and loves him best in “10 Things I Hate
About You.” Personally, I have watched “A Knights Tale” and “Lords of Dogtown” literally
100s of times.

While he is best known for his Oscar and Academy Award winning acting, most people did not know the controversy that arose following his demise regarding his estate. In 2003, during his rise to fame, Heath Ledger prepared a Last Will and Testament declaring that he was domiciled in Australia. At the time, he was unmarried, and he had no children. Therefore, in the event of his demise, Heath bequeathed his entire estate to his parents and his siblings, to be divided equally. Had he not prepared an estate plan, he would have died intestate, and his estate would have passed completely to his parents.

Now, I- like most of you- understand that life happens. And when life happens, many things can fall to the wayside. Most people after they create an estate plan never bother to revisit it.

Regardless of my personal plea with every client to follow up with me every two to five years,
very few take me up on the offer. I do not charge for consultations, nor do I charge to simply
review an estate plan.

Personally, as an experienced estate planning and litigation attorney, I always contemplate
unborn children and grandchildren when I prepare estate plans for clients, even where it may be
unlikely or far into the future. Why? Because so many people prepare an estate plan and
completely forget about it. We are human and love to live life in the present. Unfortunately, it is
my job to look into the future and protect a client’s legacy and make sure it is distributed
according to the client’s wishes.

Forgetting about one’s estate plan is likely what happened to Heath. In 2005, Heath and his then
partner Michelle Williams, best known for her time on Dawson’s Creek, gave birth to their
daughter Matilda. Heath died a little over two years later.

At the time of Heath Ledger’s death in 2008, he never revisited and amended his estate plan to
provide for Matilda.

Technically, pursuant to Heath’s estate plan, the estate was to be divided equally between his
parents and siblings. As his will was probated in Australia, there were obvious issues that arose
during the administration that could have resulted in Matilda being left out. This would likely not
have been Heath’s wishes. Eventually, Heath’s parents and siblings decided to leave the entire
estate, valued at over 20 million, to Matilda, to be held in trust for her benefit.

While I cannot comment on the law in Australia, there could have been a very different ending to
this story. In California, there exists several statutes protecting the rights of Omitted Spouses and
Children. Generally, in the event a testamentary instrument such as a will or trust fails to provide
for a child of decedent, born or adopted after the execution of all decedent’s testamentary instruments, the child would be entitled to a portion of the estate as if the decedent had died without having executed any testamentary instrument. See Probate Code § 21620 et seq. For an omitted spouse, the relevant Probate Code § 21610.

While there are exceptions, such as if in the event the decedent 1) intentionally excluded the
omitted heir, which is clear from the testamentary documents, 2) the heir was provided for
outside of the testamentary documents such as beneficiary upon death to accounts or life
insurance proceeds, 3) in the event of a omitted child, the estate is substantially bequeathed to the
parent of the child, or 4) in the event of an omitted spouse there is a valid agreement such as a
prenuptial/antenuptial agreement.

While this story ultimately ended up having a happy ending, the outcome could have been very
different and heartbreaking. Estate planning is not just for older people. Unfortunately, and all
too often, younger people pass away. Everyone, old and young should have some type an estate
plan in place to protect their family legacy, no matter how small.

We at Grismer|Patterson, LLP care about our clients and the legacies they leave behind. We offer
free consultations for new estate plans as well as for review of previous estate plans. Many of our
clients elect to schedule an annual check-up, but we recommend reviewing your estate plan with
an attorney at least every three years.

Schedule your free consultation today!

Probating an Estate – Avoid These Common Mistakes

Probating an estate can be complicated. Navigating the probate of estates can be intimidating, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it doesn’t have to be. Get insights and tips on filing paperwork, gathering necessary documents and avoiding common mistakes in this comprehensive guide to probate of estates. While avoiding probate is the goal, sometimes things happen. It is important to have somebody on your side during this process. We specialize in probate of estates, so give us a call to discuss your options.

Lack of Estate Planning prior to probating an estate

One of the most common mistakes made in probate is the lack of estate planning prior to death. Without an updated estate plan, a personal representative may have difficulty properly distributing assets among family members and other beneficiaries. Additionally, if there are any discrepancies with creditors or tax authorities, those claims must be entertained or paid before assets are distributed according to the original will. It is critical to update your estate plan every 5 years or whenever circumstances change in order to avoid these risks and issues.

Inadequate Preparation of Court Filings

Many people make the mistake of skipping necessary steps when filing paperwork with the applicable court. In order to properly administrate a probate, all necessary documents must be in order and include vital information such as correct names and addresses for executors and beneficiaries. Additionally, any executed wills or codicils must also be submitted along with appropriate fees. Improper preparation of these items can delay resolution of the estate or even result in it being rejected in some cases.

Common mistakes to avoid when probating estate

Failure to Identify and Notify All Beneficiaries

It is essential to identify and properly notify all beneficiaries when probating an estate, as even the omission of a single beneficiary may result in legal problems later on. Beneficiaries must be listed with the correct name and current address, as notification letters will be sent to confirm their stated interests in the estate. Otherwise, something as simple as a misspelled name can lead to costly court proceedings down the line.

Misunderstanding Taxes and Other Obligations due to the Estate

During the probate process, it is important to accurately identify and pay all taxes, fees, and other obligations owed by the estate. Depending on how complicated these matters are, they may require the services of a professional tax advisor or accountant. Furthermore, it is wise to remain aware of state and federal deadlines associated with such obligations, as failure to meet these could lead not only to fines but even possible criminal charges when probating an estate.

The executor of the estate is responsible for filing the applicable tax and other forms, as well as for remitting any obligations due. This can be an especially intricate process when more than one state is involved or when a decedent held property in multiple states. For those cases, expertise from a professional may be warranted to ensure all necessary procedures are followed correctly and efficiently. Doing this will help both the executor and beneficiaries avoid time-consuming mistakes that could leave them vulnerable to costly penalties down the road.

Neglecting Inventorying Assets and Debts Owed by the Estate

One of the most common mistakes made in probate is neglecting to inventory assets and debts. It is important that all assets and liabilities be identified, adequately described, and accurately valued. Without an accurate accounting of what belongs to the estate, it is difficult to properly administer the process – underestimating assets or liabilities could result in either inadequate recovery for creditors or unjustly enriching one or more heirs. Additionally, for estates with large amounts of money or property, professional appraisals may need to be conducted to ensure a proper assessment of value.

California Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

Understanding the California personal injury statute of limitations is necessary if you have been injured in the state. This law puts a time limit on how long you can wait before filing your lawsuit and is an important part of protecting your legal rights. Find out more about what the statute of limitations is and how it applies to your situation here.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in California?

The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in California is two years from the date of the injury. This means that if you have been injured and want to bring a claim, you must file it within two years of the incident occurring in order for it to be considered valid in a court of law. If you fail to do so, your lawsuit will likely be dismissed. 

One important thing to keep in mind is that there are exceptions to the California statute of limitations. For example, if the injury was caused by a product defect, the victim has three years to file a claim. That said, it’s still best to file as soon as possible in order to avoid any potential complications or delays. Additionally, it is important for victims to fully understand their rights and remedies under the law before taking any action. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is often recommended in order to maximize one’s chances of obtaining full compensation for their losses.

Time is limited. Don't wait too long to file.

Personal Injury California statute of limitations

How Do the Statutes of Limitations Differ Depending on the Type of Injury?

The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of injury and whether or not it was intentional or accidental. For example, if you are injured in an automobile accident that is not your fault, the two-year statute of limitations applies. However, if the injury is caused by a medical professional’s negligence, the statute of limitations may be extended to three years. In cases of intentional harm, such as assault and battery, there is no expiration date for filing a complaint. Therefore, it is important to consult with an attorney about your specific situation so that you know when you may have time left to file a lawsuit. We can help with is.

What Are the Consequences For Failing to File a Claim Before the Statute of Limitations Expires?

The most significant consequence of failing to file a personal injury claim before the statute of limitations expires is that you may be permanently barred from recovering any damages. This means that any medical expenses, lost wages, or other costs associated with your injury will not be recoverable from the person or entity responsible for causing your injuries. In addition, you may be unable to seek punitive and exemplary damages if you fail to file a claim within the appropriate time frame. Given these consequences, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident or incident leading to injury occurs.

Could an Extension Be Granted on a Case-by-Case Basis?

In certain circumstances, the court may grant an extension of the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in California. These extensions are granted on a case-by-case basis and typically involve situations in which there was a reasonable cause for failing to file a claim within the original time frame. For example, if an individual is incapacitated and unable to act on their own behalf, they may receive an extension or additional time after they recover to file a claim. It’s important to note that every situation is unique, so it is vital to consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can assess your specific case to determine whether you may qualify for any extensions or exceptions.

How Can I Get Legal Help if My Case Falls Within the Time Limit?

If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentional misconduct and believe that you have a valid claim, the best way to protect your rights is to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer. We can make sure that your legal claim is filed properly and on time so that you can receive the compensation rights you are entitled to.

Guide to Orange County Estate Planning

Estate planning in Orange County is a smart move to ensure your finances and assets are secure. This guide provides information on necessary steps to get started with estate planning, from understanding the benefits of creating a will to setting up trusts and navigating taxes.

Understand the Estate Planning Process

Estate planning includes identifying and arranging for management of your personal, financial, and health care decisions. It also involves protecting your real estate and transferring assets to heirs. To ensure there are no surprises down the road, it’s important to create a plan that considers the unique needs of each individual. This includes making sure there is access to sufficient funds during the person’s lifetime, creating comprehensive legal documents, and transferring assets in alignment with the individual’s wishes.

When you work with an experienced estate planning attorney in Orange County, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your wishes will be respected and your assets will be protected. Your attorney can explain how your estate will be taxed and provide advice on how to eliminate or reduce these taxes as much as possible. They can also review existing documents and make sure they meet your current needs and comply with state laws, and inform you of any changes you need to make. Additionally, an estate planning attorney can help ensure that all of your assets are transferred according to your chosen heirs in a timely manner.

Assess Your Financial Needs

Before you start estate planning, it’s important to assess your financial needs. This includes analyzing your current financial position, evaluating the amount of income required for retirement and other long-term goals, and considering potential liabilities like taxes. It’s also important to look at potential life changes that could happen in the future such as job loss or illness. All of these things should be taken into consideration when creating an estate plan.

Once you’ve assessed your financial needs, the next step is to create an estate plan. When creating an estate plan, you should consult a qualified attorney who specializes in estate planning and can provide experienced advice about important matters like taxes, wills, trusts and other legal issues. An experienced attorney can help you make sure your assets are designated properly and that all legal documents are signed correctly. They can also ensure that your wishes are carried out after death according to state law. A comprehensive estate plan will provide peace of mind knowing that your family will have the resources they need when it’s time to make major decisions.

Create Legal Documents for Your Estate Plan

Once you have a clear picture of your financial goals, you need to create the legal documents that make up your estate plan. This includes creating a will, setting up powers of attorney, and deciding on health care directives. These documents should be prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney in order to ensure accuracy and compliance with state laws. Additionally, any changes should be reviewed regularly and updated as needed.

One of the most important documents in any estate plan is the will. This document outlines the distribution of your assets and ensures that your wishes are carried out after you pass away. Your will should also include provisions for a guardian should any children be underage when you die. It is important to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that all documents are legally binding and comply with state laws. Additionally, these documents should be updated periodically or as needed in order to maintain compliance with changing laws and financial circumstances.

Make Smart Tax Decisions for Your Estate Plan

Estate planning also involves making tax-smart decisions for your estate. Consider how taxes could affect the disposition of your assets, and look for ways to minimize your tax burden upon death. Your attorney can help you explore various strategies, such as revocable trusts, gifting programs, charitable remainder trusts, or life insurance. Additionally, consider whether certain asset classes could benefit from certain types of ownership structures and what type of applicable exemptions are available to you.
It is important to work with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can offer insight about the various tax implications associated with different types of assets and ownership strategies. Tax liability, federal or state estate taxes, capital gains taxes, and other considerations can significantly impact how your assets will be allocated after your death. An experienced attorney can help you plan for these contingencies and develop a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your financial goals and objectives.

Some common estate planning questions

What are the 7 steps in the estate planning process?

Answer: The 7 steps in the estate planning process include: Gathering financial information; Determining your goals and objectives; Choosing an estate planning attorney; Selecting beneficiaries; Determine tax implications; Creating the plan; Reviewing & Updating.

What are the 5 Components Of Estate Planning?

Answer: The five components of estate planning are wills and trusts, asset protection techniques, long-term care strategies, financial planning, and philanthropic strategies. Each component of estate planning aims to protect individuals’ assets and provide for their families should something happen to them.

What is the difference between will and estate planning?

Answer: The main difference between will and estate planning is that a will is generally seen as a document or statement delineating how an individual wishes for their estate to be distributed upon death. Estate planning on the other hand, is the process of organizing your finances and making decisions about what should happen to your assets in case of unforeseen circumstances such as disability, death or incapacitation.

Living Trust

A living trust is a legal document that lets you name someone other than yourself as the owner of your property. This makes it easier for your heirs to inherit your wealth after you die.

What Is a Living Trust?

A living trust is an arrangement where you transfer ownership of your property to trustees who manage it for you until you die. This means that you retain control of your money and assets during your lifetime. After you pass away, the trustees will distribute your assets according to your wishes.

If you want to avoid probate court, a living trust is a smart choice. Probate court proceedings take place after you die, which means that your estate must be settled before you go into the afterlife. With a living trust, however, your beneficiaries receive your assets immediately upon your death.

A living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer property from one person to another without going through probate court. The most common use of a living trust is to protect your assets from creditors while you’re alive. Once you pass away, your beneficiaries receive your property directly. You can set up a living trust at any age, but it’s especially useful if you own real estate or other valuable assets.

If you want to create a living trust, you’ll first need to decide who should be the trustee (the person who manages your trust). Next, you’ll need to draft a trust agreement. Finally, you’ll need to file the trust documents with the state where you live.

A living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer assets to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings. The process is simple: You name one or more people as trustees, then you write a trust agreement that describes what happens to your property after you die. Once you’ve drafted the trust agreement, you can sign it and file it with the state where you reside.

Why should I consider one? And what does it mean for me? This article will answer these questions and more.

If you have accumulated significant wealth, you might want to consider setting up a living trust. It allows you to make gifts to family members, charities, and other individuals while protecting your assets from creditors and taxes. You also avoid having to pay estate tax on your assets at death.

A living trust is a legal document that sets up a separate fund for your heirs. The trustee manages the funds until you die, then distributes them according to your wishes. In addition to avoiding probate fees and taxes, a living trust can help protect your assets from lawsuits and creditors. For example, if you own a business and become involved in a lawsuit, your personal assets won’t be affected. However, if you leave your business to your children, your creditors could seize those assets. With a living trust, you can transfer ownership of your business to your children without affecting your personal assets.

A living trust is a type of revocable trust. Revocable trusts allow you to change your mind at any time. When you set up a living trust, you appoint yourself as the trustee. As long as you remain alive, you can decide who gets your money and how much each person receives. After you pass away, your beneficiaries receive whatever money remains in the trust.

Why Should You Consider One?

If you own real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, or other financial assets, you should consider creating a living trust. There are several reasons why you might choose to do so. First, a living trust allows you to avoid probate court proceedings when you die. Probate court proceedings are expensive and time consuming. They involve filing paperwork with courts, paying fees, and waiting months or years before receiving any distribution of your assets.

A living trust is a legal document that transfers ownership of your property from yourself to a trustee (someone who manages your property while you’re alive). The trustee then distributes your assets according to your instructions. When you create a living trust, you transfer ownership of your property to the trustee. In return, the trustee agrees to manage your property for you during your lifetime. After you pass away, the trustee distributes your property according to your wishes.

What Does It Mean For Me?

Creating a living trust means that your assets will pass directly to your beneficiaries without going through probate court. This process takes place after you die. You can also name yourself as trustee of the trust, which means that you will manage the assets while you are alive.

Probate of Estates – What Is It?

The process of probating an estate involves determining how much money will be distributed among beneficiaries, deciding whether any assets should be sold, and figuring out which debts must be paid before distribution begins.

Who Gets What After Someone Dies?

If there is no will, then the law decides who gets what after someone passes away. This is called intestacy. In general, the deceased’s spouse receives one-half of the decedent’s property, children receive one-third each, parents receive one-sixth each, siblings receive one-eighth each, and other relatives receive whatever remains.

The first step in probating an estate is filing a petition with the court. Once the court has jurisdiction over the case, it appoints an administrator (or executor) to handle the affairs of the estate. An administrator must be appointed if the person died without leaving a valid will. Otherwise, the state automatically appoints an administrator.

If there is no will, the law determines who gets what after the person dies. Under the intestacy laws of most states, the decedent’s spouse receives one-half of his or her property; children receive one-third each; parents receive one-sixth each; brothers and sisters receive one-eighth each; and other relatives receive whatever remains.

When Does Probate Occur?

Probate occurs when someone has died without leaving a valid will. The probate process begins with filing a petition with the court. After the court approves the petition, the executor (the person named by the will) must file a notice of administration with the court. The court appoints a personal representative to administer the estate.

If there is no valid will, then the state law determines who inherits the deceased’s property. In most states, if there is no surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, or other relatives, the decedent’s real property passes to his or her closest living relative. Personal property goes to the next of kin.

The process of probating an estate begins after death. A person must file a petition with the court stating what assets he or she wants to be distributed. Once the court has determined which assets should go to whom, the executor (the person named in the will) is appointed. The executor collects the assets from the decedent’s home and sells them at auction. He or she pays off debts, taxes, and funeral expenses before distributing the remaining funds to beneficiaries.

What Happens During Probate?

Once the court approves the petition and notices of administration are filed, the personal representative files a report with the court. This report includes information about the assets and liabilities of the deceased, as well as any debts owed to the decedent. The personal representative also lists the beneficiaries of the estate.

After the personal representative has filed his/her report, the court appoints a public administrator to handle the affairs of the estate. The public administrator then begins to sell off the property owned by the deceased. If there are outstanding debts, the personal representative must pay them before selling the property.

Once the property has been sold, the proceeds go into the estate account. The personal representative then pays off the remaining debts owed by the decedent. Finally, the personal representative distributes the rest of the funds to the heirs according to the terms of the will.

What Are Some Common Types of Probate?

There are three main types of probate proceedings: ordinary, special, and limited. Ordinary probate involves distributing the entire estate to the heirs. Special probate allows the executor to sell certain assets of the estate before distribution. Limited probate is used when there is only one heir left. In this case, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the interests of the minor child.

The first step in probating an estate is filing a petition with the court. If the deceased had a will, then the court will determine whether the will should be admitted into evidence. If the deceased did not leave a will, then the next step is to file a notice of administration. After that, the court will set a date for a hearing to determine if the estate has sufficient funds to pay the costs of administering the estate. If the court determines that the estate does not have enough money to cover the costs, then the court will order the administrator to sell some of the property in the estate. Once the administrator sells the property, he or she must distribute the proceeds to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will.

What’s Next?

After the court has determined how the estate should be distributed, the next step is to pay off any debts owed by the deceased. This includes funeral expenses, outstanding medical bills, and other obligations. If the decedent had life insurance policies, these must also be paid out. Finally, the remaining funds are divided among the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will.

The process of paying off the debts of a deceased person is called probating the estate. Probate is usually done by a lawyer who specializes in probate law. The first thing that needs to happen after a death is to notify the local authorities. Once notified, the county clerk’s office will open the estate file and assign a case number. A copy of the original will is filed with the court, which means that anyone claiming to be a beneficiary under the will must appear before the judge to prove his or her claim.