Living trusts: why Priscilla Presley is contesting her daughter’s will

 14 February 2023
Living trusts: why Priscilla Presley is contesting her daughter’s will

An unexpected death in the family can cause confusion as to who inherits unless there is a clear will or other provision. When Lisa Marie Presley, only child of rock and roll legend Elvis Presley died recently, her mother Priscilla Presley believed that she was a co-trustee of her daughter’s estate under the terms of a living trust.

However, an amendment has thrown that status into doubt, as The Guardian explained:

“In a filing in Los Angeles superior court, lawyers for Priscilla questioned the integrity of a 2016 amendment which removed her from Lisa Marie’s living trust, a legal document that serves the function of a will if a separate will is not filed.”

What’s in the 2016 amendment

The 2016 amendment removed Priscilla Presley and Lisa Marie’s former business manager, Barry Siegel from the trust. They were replaced with Lisa Marie’s children from her first marriage, Riley and Benjamin Keough.

Priscilla Presley is contesting the 2016 amendments and requesting that the living trust reverts to the previous version, dating from 2010. The lawsuit states that Siegal has planned to resign from the trust, which would leave Priscilla and Riley to oversee the estate.

2016 amendment – authentic or not?

The 2016 amendment has lots of question marks hanging over it.

  1. Under the terms of the living trust, Priscilla should have been informed of any changes including the 2016 amendment. She claims she was not.
  2. According to her lawyers, Priscilla’s name was misspelled.
  3. The amendment was neither notarised or witnessed.
  4. Lawyers say that Lisa Marie’s signature on the document is “atypical”.

To further complicate matters, Lisa Marie Presley divorced Michael Lockwood, the father of her twin daughters, in 2021. However, she and her ex-husband were in dispute over financial matters in the family court at the time of her death.

The legacy from Elvis

When Elvis Presley died in 1993, his will stated that Lisa Marie should inherit his estate. Between the King’s death and Lisa Marie actually inheriting at the age of 25, the estate had rocketed in value form $4.9million to $100million. The recent Oscar nomination for the 2022 biopic of Elvis directed by Baz Luhrmann will not doubt raise the profile of Elvis again - and the value of the estate.

What is a living trust?

A living trust is a legal agreement or document setting out who inherits what, just like a will. The key features of a living trust are:

  • You can set one up during your lifetime (you’ll be known as the settlor).
  • Assets such as property, savings and investments can be held in your living trust.
  • Your assets are to be inherited by specific people, or can be used to benefit them during their lifetime if you wish.
  • You appoint trustees to administer your living trust, and lay out precisely what these trustee can and cannot do.
  • Trustees are responsible for managing the trust’s assets on behalf of those who will benefit from it (the beneficiaries).

Why set up a living trust

Living trusts can be used to bypass the probate process, allowing trustees to transfer the assets in the trust direct to the beneficiaries without delay. These trusts can also “ringfence” your share of any marital assets for your children should your partner remarry or cohabit after your death. For more about Trusts in general see our page.

Help with creating a living trust

Living trusts are complex and potentially life-changing for both the settlor and the beneficiaries. If you are considering a living trust, you should seek professional estate planning advice about their suitability for you and your family. Living trusts should only be created with the assistance of an estate planning professional to ensure they are properly set up.

At Panthera Estate Planning we are happy to advise on all will and trust matters to help you protect your family assets and estate.

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I have no reservations about Panthera - they appear to be a forward thinking company making life for the client a pleasure to deal with. I would thoroughly recommend them to anyone who needs sound professional advice concerning Estate Planning.

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