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Florida law to control distribution of Davy Jones estate

West Palm Beach readers may remember Davy Jones as the front man for the Monkees and a teen heartthrob of the late 1960s. After the singer died of a heart attack last February, his oldest daughter took the reigns as executor of his estate and moved the court to seal the will and other probate documents.

The singer's daughter reportedly asked the court to keep the documents sealed in order to avoid any negative publicity that might diminish goodwill and hurt royalties. Some speculate that a desire to keep family disharmony out of the public eye may have played a role in the daughter's request.

According to reports, the singer executed his will some five years before he married his current wife and never updated the will to include his new wife. The singer's wife recently filed a claim with the probate court that would entitle her to claim one half of the estate by virtue of the fact that she married the singer after his will was created.

Even if the court grants the wife's request to be deemed a "pretermitted spouse," it remains to be seen whether she will derive much benefit from the singer's estate. The estate has been targeted with a dozen different claims so far, including substantial medical and credit card bills. A former friend and co-writer filed a claim against the singer's estate seeking 50 percent royalties in an unspecified amount and even the singer's wife has filed $7,500 worth of claims against the estate.

The exact terms of the singer's will may never be known, but it appears that Florida law will take the driver's seat when it comes to distributing the assets of his estate. If the singer had taken the time to update his estate plan and consider establishing a trust as an alternative to a will, the details of his estate might have remained private, his actual wishes might have been carried out and the estate assets might have been better shielded against the claims of creditors.

Source: Forbes, "Monkey Business Surrounding Davy Jones Estate," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Aug. 20, 2012

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