The death of popular Latin singer and actress Jenni Rivera could result in an estate battle because she apparently died without a will. Florida fans of this singer may be interested in following these proceedings. Before her death, she wrote a letter detailing who would be responsible for her assets, care for her children and take over the management of the company she left behind. However, it is very possible this letter may not qualify as a valid will, opening up the possibility of a lengthy court battle.
An interesting twist in the case surrounds Rivera's husband. The two were in the process of a divorce before she died, but they were still married at the time of the plane crash that ultimately took her life. He could be entitled to receive half of her estate, but if a prenuptial agreement exists or he otherwise elected to waive his interest, he may not receive anything. Any current agreement that exists may govern the amount of the estate he would be entitled to. Several states will allow a letter to be used as a will as long as there is clear evidence the document was intended to act as such.
Other questions surround whether she engaged in any estate planning before she died or if she had a living trust in place. If so, this could also affect the rights of her husband concerning her estate and could also throw the letter's validity into question. There may already be a court battle brewing in the case because her funeral was postponed, reportedly because of legal issues. At this time, no one has been appointed as executor of the estate, a point that could delay any lawsuits on behalf of the estate and Rivera's heirs.
Leaving behind a will is preferable, especially for those with a multi-million dollar estate at stake. Although it appears no action has been taken yet, there are some concerns the Rivera estate could be involved in a legal fight between the woman's family and her spouse. Using a letter for a will is not recommended because it could result in more problems than it actually solves. Those in the process of Florida estate planning may want to stay tuned to this case to see if the stage has been set for a showdown over who is entitled to the singer's assets.
Source: Forbes, "Jenni Rivera's Estate Heading For Turmoil," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Jan. 7, 2013