Jazz Singer’s Estate at Center of Breach of Fiduciary Duty Action

Posted on Oct 22, 2013

In a recent lawsuit filing in Los Angeles Superior Court, the daughter of legendary jazz singer Nina Simone accuses attorneys representing the estate of mishandling the California estate administration process. The daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, asserts that the defendant attorneys are guilty of committing professional negligence, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty during the probate proceedings. She is seeking $450,000 in damages as a result.

According to the complaint, the law firm handling the estate administration failed to properly investigate whether Ms. Simone was a resident of France at the time of her passing. Ms. Simone died on April 21, 2003, at the age of 70. Her daughter asserts that Ms. Simone was in fact domiciled in France, and as a result, the administration of her estate would have been quicker and less expensive than the administration that was conducted in the United States. Ms. Kelly further argues that the defendant law firm purposely chose to probate the estate in California because it meant increased legal fees.

In addition to the accusations relating to Ms. Simone’s domicile at the time of her death, her daughter also asserts that the law firm allowed the California estate administration process to drag on unnecessarily for many years. The estate was plagued by litigation, arbitration, and many other disputes during the probate process. Ten years later, the estate is still not closed. Ms. Kelly further accuses the law firm of failing to file the estate’s tax returns, failing to properly distribute the estate assets, and negligently initiating a will contest that Ms. Kelly had a very poor chance of winning.

To learn more about this and other matters, contact an Anaheim trust administration attorney today at (714) 459-5481.

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James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm