The recent death and loss of blues legend B.B. King was saddening. Shocking, however, are the allegations that King was murdered by his longtime business manager and executor of his estate, Louise LaVerne Toney. A dispute regarding the estate is now in court with two of King’s daughters, Patty King and Karen Williams, leading the charges against Toney.
According to BBKing.com, the Official Website, “He started life as Riley B. King in one of America’s most impoverished places, the Mississippi Delta. He had little but the dream in his heart and a destiny that would take him around the world. Now he’s an international music icon, and Blues aficionados from all over the planet want to hear more and know more about B.B. King.”
Estate disputes are not uncommon. The rich and famous are not immune. Patty King and Karen Williams have raised allegations of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation against Toney.
On April 29, 2015, Karen Williams and Fredrick Waid filed a Petition for Appointment of Temporary Co-Guardians and for General Co-Guardians of the Person and Estate. The Petition alleges that B.B. King had a documented history of dementia and that the petitioners believed Toney obtained power of attorney using undue influence. To support this claim, they alleged that Toney refused to provide copies of the documents to family members and that administration officials from St. Rose Hospital advised the family to seek legal counsel, as the officials felt the power of attorney was improper. Williams and Waid also alleged in the Petition that Toney misled King’s children about the state of King’s finances and claim that Toney was financially exploiting King, spending more than a million dollars from King’s bank accounts and putting family members on King’s payroll.
B.B. King’s attorney filed an Objection to Petition for Appointment of Temporary Co-Guardians and for General Co-Guardians of the Person and Estate on May 6, 2015. In the Objection, King’s attorney calls the Petition “long on scandalous and defamatory innuendo and devoid of any proper and statutorily required evidentiary support.” The Objection calls into question Karen’s relation to King, claiming B.B. King is not her biological father based upon Karen’s birth certificate and claims that Karen’s daughter, Landra Williams, stole money from King’s bank account. The Court ultimately denied the Petition, due to lack of evidence.
On May 19, 2015, just days after King’s passing, Laverne Toney filed a Petition for Probate of Last Will and Testament and for Issuance of Letters testamentary. Objections to this Petition were filed on June 9 and a hearing was set. The hearing regarding the Petition took place on June 25, 2015 and the Petition was granted, at least for now. Currently, this case is still being heard in the Superior Court of Clark County, Nevada. King’s daughters hope to convince the judge to remove Toney, the named executor, and to obtain other relief.
Unfortunately, the elderly are common victims of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Considered easy targets, elders are often taken advantage of by family members or close friends. Of course, it remains to be determined whether B.B. King was the victim of such misconduct. If one valuable lesson can be learned from the B.B. King estate dispute, it is to think carefully about your own estate and who to put in charge. Estate disputes can be messy and emotional, not to mention difficult. Selecting the most trustworthy person to take control of your estate after your passing is one method to help prevent estate disputes after you pass away.
If you have questions about estate, probate or trust disputes or financial exploitation claims, please contact us.
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