Celebrity Estate Lessons — Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball

While getting a big, fat inheritance check is likely appreciated by your beneficiaries, often it’s the family heirlooms that are more important. This was the case with Lucille Ball.

When she died in 1989, she split her estate between her two children, Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill and Desi Arnaz Jr., and her second husband, Gary Morton. Morton went on to marry golfer Susie McAllister. When Morton died, his possessions, including what he gained from Ball’s estate, were left to McAllister. She promptly put the items up for auction.

Lucy’s kids weren’t thrilled with this decision and Luckinbill threatened to sue to stop the auction. But McAllister beat her to it, filing suit to allow the auction to continue. The judge ultimately found that the auction could be stopped if Luckinbill could post a $250,000 bond. She wasn’t able to afford that but was able to negotiate a return of Lucy’s lifetime achievement awards.

The other items went up for sale, including love letters, personal photos, other awards, and original costume sketches, netting around $230,000.

If you think someone who shouldn’t has claimed heirlooms, it’s important to take action sooner rather than later. After all, if they’re sold or destroyed, there’s not much you can do years later. So, make sure you contact a probate attorney (like us) who can help you figure out what, if anything, can be done. And if you’re writing your estate plan, contact us to make sure your items end up where you want them to be.