Priscilla Presley contested her late daughter’s will last week, raising the prospect of a family schism and a protracted legal battle over who would manage Elvis’ sizable assets.
However, legal experts predict that the court will side with Priscilla.
In a court filing in Los Angeles, Presley urged a judge to overturn a 2016 agreement that had recently come to light and replaced her and Barry Siegel (her daughter’s former manager) as co-trustees of Lisa Marie Presley’s trust with Riley and Benjamin Keough.
Elvis’ ex-wife includes the possibility that her daughter’s signature was forged.
According to lawyer Benny Roshan, chair of Greenberg Glusker’s Trusts and Probate Litigation Group, Priscilla Presley has a strong case.
“They’ve made claims that, in my opinion, are cause for serious concern,” Roshan added.
Even though the lawsuit does not suggest a feud between mother and daughter, it has made public the family’s private negotiations over the rock star’s fortune.
Lisa Marie Presley named Siegel and her mother as co-trustees of her trust in 1993, according to her Jan. 26 petition.
Her mother, on the other hand, said she discovered an update to the will, dated March 11, 2016, after she died on January 12 in Los Angeles, replacing them both as trustees following her death.
According to Priscilla Presley, the addendum was never given to her while Lisa Marie was still alive, as stipulated in the original trust.
In her petition, she stated that Priscilla’s name was misspelled on the document’s date, her signature did not match how she usually signed off, and the document was neither witnessed nor notarized.
“They’re pretty good points,” says Cynthia Brittain of Karlin & Peebles. If everything is as they claim, the case law is fairly straightforward.
Roshan added that California law requires that directions given in such a document be followed, and that the original trust contract specifies the procedure for updating it.
According to Roshan, California law “confirms Priscilla’s stance that an instrument is not legal if it contains a specific method of revocation, amendment, or alteration and you do not follow it.” “You have several reasons to object to this new amendment.”
Sarah J. Wentz, a Fox Rothschild partner, agreed.
“I believe she does have a strong case,” Wentz said. “Priscilla, in my opinion, will remain as trustee, unless Riley has some sort of argument that there was bias against her and that the trustee couldn’t be fair and unbiased to her.”
Wentz also noted that the petition emphasizes the fact that the text of the amendment was not included in the signature, which Priscilla Presley claimed: “may create a greater risk of fraud.”
According to Ryan Sellers of the Dallas law firm Hales & Sellers, if the dispute requires the court to examine the signature’s veracity, a jury may decide the case in some states, such as Texas.
The Presley case, on the other hand, falls under the California probate code, which prohibits jury trials in trust cases.
Will validity disputes frequently end up in court, mainly when celebrities are involved?
“It’s fairly common for the family to come forward and contest a specific alteration that the decedent made during their lifetime,” Roshan says.
Despite the legal issue, Priscilla Presley denied any family strife in a statement on Friday.
“I loved Elvis as much as he loved me,” she said.
Lisa is the result of our love. Any other viewpoint would be an insult to the family legacy and to what Elvis left behind in his life.
Lisa Marie Presley’s remaining children are actor Riley Keough, 33, and twins Harper and Finley Lockwood, from two ex-husbands. Her son, Benjamin, died in 2020 at the age of 27.
The children have not yet responded to Priscilla’s filing. Riley Keough did not respond to The Times’ request for comment.
Although Lisa Marie’s ownership of the Elvis estate, which includes the well-known Graceland, has dwindled over the years, it remains significant. She also retained ownership of her father’s outfits, vehicles, honors, and other belongings, according to the estate’s website.
According to a previous Graceland spokesperson, the Graceland property is now held in trust and will be used for the benefit of Lisa Marie’s children. According to the spokesman, neither the management nor the business would change.
According to Joel Weinshanker, managing partner at Elvis Presley Enterprises, the company established by the Elvis Presley Trust that Lisa Marie once held, she always intended for her two children to run her inheritance.
There was never any doubt in her mind that they would act as stewards and see the situation in the same light as she did.
In 2018, Lisa Marie Presley and Siegel went to court. She filed a lawsuit against Siegel for alleged financial mismanagement, claiming she was $16 million in debt at the time.
Then Presley’s former manager countersued, claiming she had squandered her inheritance and owed him money.
It stated that Siegel intended to or had already resigned as a co-trustee. According to the petition, Riley Keough, Lisa Marie’s daughter, would take Siegel’s place.
According to Brittain, Riley Presley’s desire to serve as Priscilla’s co-trustee on the estate is unknown, which could impede the court’s decision.
According to Brittain, putting the granddaughter and her grandmother together may not be in the best interests of the beneficiaries if the granddaughter does not want to serve with her grandmother or if there is conflict.
According to Brittain, when there is conflict within the family, corporate trustees are frequently appointed. “For one thing, the family has suffered a significant loss, and everyone is mourning.
People have been known to grab for control to keep the deceased close to them, rather than because they are naturally domineering. Perhaps the petitioner believes that by doing so, she will be able to be closer to her granddaughter.”