Estate Planning Lessons from Hollywood: Michael Lockwood Appointed Legal Guardian Amidst Lisa Marie Presley Trust Battle

A widely publicized estate planning case that is ongoing is the disputed estate of Lisa Marie Presley and new developments were recently reported by the LA Times. Lisa Marie (daughter of Elvis Presley) died in January of 2023, leaving behind a trust that purported to leave control of her estate to her adult daughter, Riley Keough. However, Priscilla Presley (Lisa Marie’s mother) has challenged the validity of the documents that changed the Trust. In 2016 Lisa Marie amended her will, naming her two eldest children as co-executors. Her son pre-deceased her. She filed to dissolve her marriage to Michael Lockwood that same year. Lisa Marie and Michael Lockwood were parents of two minor twins. The new development in this case is that the court has appointed the father of the twins, Michael Lockwood as the legal guardian of the twins.

Takeaway Lesson for Estate Planning from this Case – Avoid Conflicts of Interest

Why was Michael Lockwood a good choice for a guardian ad litem?

Although we do not know the specific basis for the court’s ruling on this issue, the LA Times quoted Michael Lockwood’s lawyer explaining why Lockwood was a good choice: He said that his client was ready, able and willing to protect the twins’ interests and that he has a good, collegial, familial relationship with all of the parties involved. Perhaps more importantly, there is no conflict of interest regarding appointment because the proposed guardian is not a beneficiary of the trust instrument at issue. 

What is the estate planning lesson we can learn from this new development in this case? Avoid conflicts of interest.

When doing estate planning, an important consideration should be any real conflicts of interest of potential conflicts of interest. When you are alive, you are in the best position to know your beneficiaries, their relationship to each other, and try to look down the road to understand what motivations may be in play after you have passed. When you meet with your attorney to do your estate planning, it will likely be helpful for you to talk through any concerns that you might have about conflicts of interest and the possible methods to avert your worries. 

What other estate planning lessons can be learned from this case? The importance of following procedures and keeping all documents up to date. 

Some of the issues that are in dispute in this trust case are the authenticity and validity of the 2016 alleged amendment to Lisa Marie’s trust amendment. Pricilla has alleged that it wasn’t delivered to her during Lisa Marie’s lifetime, that the date was added via PDF, that the document misspells Priscilla’s name, that the signature is on a separate page from the substantive provisions, that the signature looks inconsistent with her usual signature and that the purported 2016 Amendment was neither witnessed nor notarized.

The most important takeaway from this case for anyone hoping to avoid estate planning disputes in the future is the importance of following the procedures required by the will, keeping it updated, being accurate, and fully complying with all of the requirements in the documents.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Firm

Estate planning that is kept up to date, drafted accurately, and performed in compliance with the terms of the estate instrument is vital for avoiding estate planning disputed. For this reason, finding an experienced law firm to assist you is essential in making sure that your estate planning is done properly to avoid disputes after you have passed. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we want to help you create a current and accurate estate plan that will help you achieve your goals. Contact us at 707-451-4502.