Millions of music fans mourned the loss of Tom Petty when he unexpectedly died in 2017. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer left behind a sizable estate to his wife and two daughters that was set up as a trust. However, the wife of 16 years and grown daughters from a previous marriage are in dispute over the control and direction of the estate.
According to the Los Angeles Times, wife Dana Petty is listed as the directing trustee of the estate, but daughters Annakim Violette and Adria Petty claim that they are also supposed to have a hand in the decision-making process on matters involving the estate. Each side has filed suits with the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The wife‘s suit
The wife claims that the daughters have made it impossible to conduct the estate’s business, including the release of two posthumous albums. Adria Petty is specifically cited for erratic behavior that is particularly counterproductive. The widow asks that the trust that divides the estate equally between the three of them is amended so that there must be unanimity in all decisions so that the daughters do not continually overrule her by a simple majority.
The daughters‘ suit
The daughters claim that Dana is keeping them out of the decision making process. They also allege that an LLC to be created upon Petty’s death to manage the music and creative assets has not been funded. By not funding the LLC after paying off debts and funeral expenses, the daughters allege that the directing trustee is not honoring the will.
Finding a solution
Disputes among family members are unfortunately all-too-common, even when the estate is not as complex or well-funded as Petty’s. Ideally, a thoughtfully drafted will avoids this, or these matters can be worked out amicably through negotiation to avoid the strain upon the family as well as the expense. However, litigation is sometimes necessary to protect the rights of beneficiaries or enforce the wishes of the deceased. An estate law attorney with experience can help families to resolve these and other issues.