Marlon Brando “Coulda Been a Contenda” in Estate Planning

Marlon brandoUnquestionably, Marlon Brando was one of the leading actors of the 20th century. The well-known Godfather was always in firm control … until it came to his estate that is. Marlon Brando never followed convention. He won his Oscar for Best Actor in 1973 for The Godfather, but Brando rejected the award as a protest to the treatment of Native Americans by the film industry. Too bad he failed to follow the norms when it came to estate planning. In part due to questions about his true intentions as expressed in his will and trust, Brando’s estate was involved in more than two dozen lawsuits by 2009 — five years after his death. He passed away on July 1, 2004, at 80 years of age, suffering from a host of ailments including dementia and lung failure.

Right before his death eleven years ago, Marlon Brando couldn't leave his bedroom and was so paranoid that he wanted the room padlocked at his death so no one would steal the buttons off of his shirt!

A recent article in Reelz, titled Marlon Brando's Legacy Marred by Dozens of Lawsuits, reports that even with this somewhat questionable mental state, Brando signed an amendment to his will just 13 days before his death. This new will replaced his personal assistant of 50 years and his long-time business manager with new executors. Although there have been claims that Marlon wasn't competent and that the will change was a forgery, his new executors have kept tight control over his estate, image, and legacy—suing everyone from a furniture company selling a Brando chair, to Madonna (Madonna?) for using his image in a concert. The executors also have made a development deal for his private island in the South Pacific that will turn it into a swanky, eco-friendly resort for the rich and famous.  Is this what Brando wanted, many ask.

Likewise, many of Brando’s closest friends and loved ones have sued his estate, arguing that the executors have failed to honor his intentions, such as refusing to honor gifts and promises that were made while he was alive to these long-time friends and associates.

The Reelz article cautions that people often make the common mistake of assuming their executors will honor their true wishes. They think this even when such intentions are expressed verbally and when the will and trust aren't changed to include the new wishes. The lawsuits filed involving Brando's estate were based on this precise issue. There was no one who said Brando told them they would receive more who actually got what they wanted. His estate spent millions of dollars on legal fees, and no one was happy with the results.

Don’t leave your affairs up to chance! Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney and set out specific, detailed instructions in your will or trust to avoid headaches and litigation such as those of the Brando estate in the future.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.    

Reference: Reelz (February 20, 2015) Marlon Brando's Legacy Marred by Dozens of Lawsuits

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment


We have a LOT more where that came from!

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

Call Now ButtonCall Us Now https://jsfiddle.net/7h5246b8/

Request a free consultation

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.