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Court: Archive company does not owe Monroe estate for pictures

In today's increasingly mobile society, it may be more common for people to have one home in Orlando and a separate home or residence in a different state. While this decision may prove to be quite convenient and advantageous now, it may present some serious problems in the future in terms of estate administration.

When a person passes away, it is often up to family members and loved ones to administer an estate. It can be a challenging and complex process and it may have long-term effects on executors or beneficiaries that a person may not be prepared for. In fact, even claiming a person's residence can have a significant effect on an estate.

For example, when Marilyn Monroe tragically passed away in 1962, her estate claimed that she was a resident of New York to capitalize on certain inheritance tax laws. At the time of her death, Monroe did, in fact, own an apartment in New York but also owned a home in Los Angeles.

This 50-year-old decision came under fire when a California-based company was selling images of Monroe without the estate's permission. About 10 years ago, a law was passed in California that gave posthumous publicity rights to famous people and Monroe's estate filed a claim to stop the company from selling the images. If they did not stop, they would have to pay the estate for publicity rights.

However, a court recently ruled that because Monroe's estate claimed she was a resident of New York, not California, the archive company is not legally required to pay royalties.

While most people do not have to worry about publicity rights or royalties, this situation is a good reminder that estate administration can be very complex. Because state laws vary widely, there are a number of various implications that can effect an estate even decades later.

Source: Mercury News, "Court: Monroe's estate can't block photo sales," Aug. 31, 2012

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