Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lessons from Junior Kimbrough

I teach a class called “Music Industry Law” and at least once a semester I try to update my students on a relevant pending court case or recently settled dispute.  This semester I had a difficult time finding anything relevant to talk about (I wasn’t about to try and discuss the case or net neutrality).  Finally, out of desperation I found a citation on the always entertaining Courthouse News Service website concerning the Mississippi Supreme Court’s ruling in the case challenging the last will and testament of David (“Junior”) Kimbrough. 

I was interested in this case both because I knew one of the people involved and because I really like Junior Kimbrough’s music.  On a side note,  his album Most Things Haven’t  Worked Out is the best title for a blues album ever. 

The gist of the case was that the court upheld Kimbrough’s will and his intent to leave his entire estate to his girlfriend Mildred Washington instead of the four of his children who came forward to challenge the will as well as “his supposed 36 children” in all.  Clearly, Junior Kimbrough was a very busy man. 

There is actually an important point here.  Kimbrough clearly had very specific intentions with respect to his estate.  He made sure those intentions would be carried out by executing a formal last will and testament.  The will, properly executed withstood challenge.  This should serve as a reminder to anyone who is contemplating executing a will – stop thinking about it and get it done, especially if your estate involves intellectual property and especially if your intentions are anything different than simply leaving your assets to your next of kin.  In this case, for Mr. Kimbrough, things seem to have worked out. 

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