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Petty Family Settles Dispute Over Estate

May 6, 2020

The music world was shocked when Tom Petty died of a prescription drug overdose in 2017. None took the news harder than the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s widow and two daughters from a previous marriage. In the months that followed, there were million-dollar lawsuits and countersuits as the three fought for control of the estate and determining how to create the trust outlined in the estate plan.

The widow, Dana Petty, was put in charge as outlined in the estate plan as the temporary director of the trust, but daughters Annakim Violette and Adria resented that Dana was making decisions without their input. While the widow took a more business-like approach, the daughters’ choices seemed more erratic and emotional. This led to the widow not funding the new Tom Petty Legacy, LLC. She was also concerned that the daughters would have a majority vote, which left her powerless to protect the estate from bad decisions made by the daughters.

The Three Come to An Agreement

After more than two years, the three women have come to an agreement and announced it in a joint statement that in part said:

“We are pleased to announce the formation of Tom Petty Legacy, LLC to manage all aspects of Tom’s legacy. We are committed to honoring Tom’s voice, music, integrity and his charitable spirit.”

The three will have an equal stake in the company that will oversee all current and future projects involving Petty’s music and work. The three will also have professional management guidance from Red Light Management to handle the day-to-day running of the LLC, and Petty’s longtime manager will also have a role.

Estate Plans Can Involve Litigation

The Petty estate is worth tens-of-millions of dollars with ongoing revenue streams involving previously released music, new unreleased music, new original packaging as well as other merchandising and licensing deals. This arrangement acknowledges that the family certainly can provide creative input, but industry professionals should handle much of the details and structure deals.

The size and complexity of the estate is unusual, but it is relatively common for families to have disputes over control of a decedent’s business or assets. While it is generally best to work with attorneys to resolve these matters outside of court, litigation involving probate or trust is sometimes necessary to protect the rights of family members.