Going Public

We wrote about this on Facebook back in January. It just settled this week. At least in theory.

You may remember that Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’s only child, died suddenly at the age of 54 in January. When her will was read, it turned out that there had been a change to her will (a codicil) made in 2016. It removed her mother, Priscilla Presley, as trustee of the Pressley family trust.

Elvis’ estate/brand pulls in $100 million a year. The amount that goes to the family trust was enough to pay Lisa Marie over $1.5 million a year. The amendment installed Riley Keough and her brother (who died in 2020) as co-trustees in the event of Lisa Marie’s death.

No one informed Priscilla of the change – as is required under the terms of the trust. Lisa Marie’s signature “was ‘inconsistent’ with her usual penmanship.”  She quickly filed a lawsuit against the estate.

Her lawyers claimed that the amendment was invalid and potentially fraudulent, asserting that Lisa Marie’s signature was forged. She asked the court to recognize her as a trustee.

It was a mess and, of course, as with all things Elvis, it hit the media. Hard. Earlier this week it was announced that Riley Keough had agreed to provide Priscilla Presley with a lump-sum payment as part of a settlement to solve the dispute.

It’s commendable – and just plain good business sense – that the parties worked this out themselves before a scheduled court hearing in August.

It’s a 95-page agreement. Riley Keough also agreed to pay as much as $400,000 to cover Ms. Presley’s legal fees. She also agreed to hire Presley as a “special adviser” to the trust for “an undisclosed annual salary for 10 years, or until her death, whichever came first.”

The court filing proposing the agreement for the court’s approval states:

In settling the claims pending in Priscilla’s petition, the parties are saving significant legal fees by avoiding litigation, and they are likewise avoiding the spectacle of intra-family litigation that would have been inimical to Lisa’s wishes and not in the best interests of the family.

That’s great, we at Indigo Family Law applaud the quick resolution . . . the thing is, though, we really shouldn’t be writing about it today. Why? Because it shouldn’t be news.

Somewhere along the line, mistakes were made that allowed this to get to probate court where it became public. To make matters worse, the lawyers filed what they thought was a ‘redacted’ copy with the court with the figures crossed out. They missed some.

Now the world knows.