Marlon Brando’s Housekeeper Claimed He “Told” Her She Would Inherit His Home

Legendary Oscar-winning actor Marlon Brando left the bulk of his estate (worth approximately $26 million) to his producer, other associates, and his longtime housekeeper, Angela Borlaza. 

Brando created a valid last Will and testament.  However, he did not include Borlaza—who later sued alleging that Brando promised that she would inherit his home when he died.

A Promise Is A Promise…

While a promise is a promise, it can be easily broken.  In this case, Brando either never promised Borlaza anything or promised to give her the home, but never got around to putting it in his will.  Borlaza claimed the latter and sued his estate for $627,000. 

However, since the alleged promise was oral, the court was restrained by what was contained in Brando’s will on the assumption that he made all of his wishes known.  Borlaza eventually settled the matter for $125,000, but she was lucky to get even that. 

Making oral promises to someone about what they’ll inherit when you die generally fail without some other proof that the promise was valid such as someone else being part of the conversation in which the promise was made.  Short of that, courts can – and reasonably must – rely upon the documents in front of it when probating an estate.

Put It in Writing:

Make sure that your loved ones receive everything you promised them by putting your wishes in writing through a last will and testament, a trust, or another estate planning tool.  Don’t rest on your laurels.  It is imperative to update your estate plan documents when any significant or life changing events occur such as:

  1. a new oral promise you made to someone

  2. adoption

  3. birth

  4. circumstance changes (change in health, wealth, or state of residence)

  5. divorce

  6. income changes

  7. marriage

  8. divorce

  9. re-marriage

Need help putting your wishes in writing? It’s easier than you think and will give you the peace of mind that your loved ones aren’t forgotten.

If you want to ensure that your family is cared for, please click here to schedule your complimentary Estate Planning Strategy Call with San Francisco’s premier estate planning attorney, Matthew J. Tuller.

Did Whitney Houston Leave Too Much Money To Bobbi Kristina?

Whitney Houston’s estate was worth approximately $20 million when she died – plenty to meet the needs of her only daughter – Bobbi Kristina. Sadly, only a few years after Houston’s death, Bobbi Kristina died as well. 

Although Bobbi Kristina’s previous boyfriend, Nick Gordon, is still a suspect in her murder, many say that having access to so much money at a young age was a contributing factor. Sadly, Houston’s estate planning mistakes are all too common.

Aunt & Grandmother Say Will Did Not Depict Houston’s Intentions:

Houston’s aunt and grandmother filed a lawsuit to re-write the Will as they say it didn’t accurately depict what Whitney really wanted for Bobbi-Kristina. They claimed that she was too young to handle so much money.

Although they likely had the best of intentions, probate courts must follow the terms of the actual Will or trust documents, not what the person who died might have otherwise intended. 

Whitney Houston’s Will was created in 1993, specifying that a trust would be created after she died for any children she may have (so before Bobbi-Kristina was even born). Unfortunately, she never updated her Will before she died. 

Inheriting Money at a Young Age is Never a Good Idea:

Whether this tragedy could have been adverted if Bobbi Kristina’s distributions were delayed until she was older is anyone’s guess. The bottom line is that inheriting large sums of money at a young is generally never a good idea. Although the young beneficiary might be responsible, young people can be easily manipulated by others.

While it’s clear that Houston could have better protected that money with a stronger estate plan, she’s certainly not the only one guilty of not following through. In fact, many of us have the best intentions, but simply don’t make the time to create – and update – proper estate planning documents that can help beneficiaries. 

Set Your Beneficiaries Up For Success!

You do have the power to set your young beneficiaries up for success. In most cases, that means creating a trust that allows them access to money over time and can be managed by someone you trust and has their best interests at heart. 

We can provide you with the tools you need to protect your loved ones – whatever your situation may be. As Houston’s case shows, ignoring estate planning issues can have tragic consequences.

If you want to ensure that your family is cared for, please click here to schedule your complimentary Estate Planning Strategy Call with San Francisco’s premier estate planning attorney, Matthew J. Tuller.