When a will is probated, beneficiaries are named and gifts are satisfied, it does not necessarily mean that the administration of the estate is complete. We have discussed in prior posts how estates have a life of their own even after the subject of the estate has died. We recently shared how several celebrity estates have continued to earn large amounts of income past the death of the public figure.
Earning income off of investments or royalties is not the only "living" quality that an estate has. As part of the administration of an estate, the trustee or executor has a duty to protect the interests of the estate, and bringing a lawsuit is something that the estate has in its toolbox. A recent lawsuit over a William Faulkner quote is the perfect example.
The estate of William Faulkner has recently filed a lawsuit against Sony Pictures Classics, the company that distributed the $151 million box-office film "Midnight in Paris." The film was written and directed by Woody Allen, starring Owen Wilson, a character who goes back in time to drink, dine and dance with famous authors and artists from the 1920s.
While sharing a story of his travels, Wilson's character says "The past is not dead. Actually, it's not even past. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right." This was a real quote, from "Requiem for a Nun," a novel written by Faulkner in 1950.
According to the estate, Sony did not have the requisite consent to use the line. Not only are compensatory damages being sought in the lawsuit, but attorneys fees and punitive damages are as well for the claim that Sony's distribution of the "Infringing Film [was] malicious, fraudulent, deliberate and/or willful."
Source: Vanity Fair, "The Screen and the Fury? William Faulkner's Estate Sues Over Woody Allen Film," Julie Miller, Oct. 26, 2012
Our Florida law firm ensures that a client's legacy is preserved not only by creating a complete plan but also through attentive administration of the estate.