Trusts & Estates: Greatest Love of All

The drama over Whitney Houston's estate continues to unfold.

Ever since Whitney Houston’s death on Feb. 11 at age 48, rumors have been circulating about her estate. Would her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, seek to gain control of the money? Did Whitney protect her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, with a trust, or will everything be paid to her at once, since she is 18?

Life Insurance Lawsuit
We know that shortly before her death, Whitney won a court case brought by her stepmother over a $1 million life insurance policy that John Houston, Whitney’s father, had left to Whitney. Barbara Houston, her stepmother, said the policy was supposed to pay off the money that Whitney’s father and stepmother borrowed from Whitney to buy their New Jersey condo. Whitney held a private mortgage on the condo.

Barbara sued after Whitney refused to credit the life insurance money against the mortgage. In December, eight years after John died, an appeals court judge ruled in Whitney’s favor because Barbara didn’t have any documents to prove the insurance policy was meant to cover only the mortgage loan. As the judge noted, its impossible to legally determine what the deceased would have wanted, beyond what’s spelled out in the documents. Had John’s attorneys set up a trust to accept the life insurance proceeds and use them to pay off the loan, his wishes would have been clear, and none of the ensuing legal in-fighting would have been necessary...

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(Read more from our sister publication, Trusts & Estates.)

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