I recently read an article in the Los Angeles Times (http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/04/sports/la-sp-kobe-mother-lawsuit-20130504) about Kobe Bryant being involved in a legal battle with his mother over some old memorabilia from Kobe’s high school and early Laker days. Apparently, Kobe’s mother, Pamela Bryant, was paid an advance of $450,000.00 by Goldin Auctions, a New Jersey auction house, for the right to auction off various mementos from Kobe’s high school days at Lower Merion High and some championship rings that Kobe gave to his parents after the Lakers won the 2000 title, among other things. There are approximately 900 items in all, with an estimated value of $1,500,000.00,
Pamela Bryant maintains that she and Kobe discussed the items approximately five years ago, and Kobe indicated that the items belonged to her. Purportedly, Kobe disagrees. Kobe’s lawyers have delivered a “Cease and Desist” letter to Goldin Auctions, demanding that the planned auction of the items be cancelled. In turn, Goldin Auctions has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey requesting the right to proceed with the sale. Kobe’s attorney, Mark Campbell, stated that Kobe’s “personal property ended up in the possession of someone who does not lawfully own it,” casting doubt upon the old adage that “possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
When our clients execute their estate planning documents, we discuss at length how to address the disposition of their personal belongings. We urge clients to be clear, unambiguous and specific when dictating which of their beneficiaries is to receive which of their personal belongings. After reading this article, it became abundantly clear that there is another, equally important, issue to be considered when you dispose of your personal property . . . . is it actually yours to dispose of?