Morgan Freeman involved in an estate dispute after his step-granddaughter is murdered
The highly successful and popular actor Morgan Freeman is involved in an estate dispute to ensure the assets of his murdered step-granddaughter’s estate do not end up with her father. Ms. E’Dena Hines was stabbed outside of her New York City home and eventually died from her injuries on August 16, 2015. The alleged murderer is her boyfriend, Lamar Davenport. He is due to appear in Court, and has plead not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder.
The issue is that E’Dena Hines did not have a will and did not have any children. Under New York law, the estate automatically passes to her parents. Morgan Freeman is fighting to ensure that E’Dena’s father, Edward Lee Hines, does not inherit anything. It is alleged that Edward Lee Hines was not involved in E’Dena’s life after divorcing her mother when E’Dena was three years old. Morgan Freeman’s Court submissions further state that he and his step-daughter Deena Adair were the primary caregivers and supporters of E’Dena throughout her life. It is submitted that they supported E’Dena “financially, emotionally, mentally and physically.” E’Dena was the granddaughter of Morgan Freeman’s first wife, Jeanette Adair Bradshaw. The majority of E’Dena’s estate is allegedly comprised of a one-bedroom condo in Tudor City estimated to be worth approximately $780,000 and given to her by her grandfather, Morgan Freeman. The battle seems to be centered on who will ultimately receive the condo.
This is another example of a situation where estate litigation follows inadequate or outdated estate planning. Since E’Dena Hines did not have a will and did not have any children, the distribution of her estate is governed by a default legal regime. In this case, it results in a very unfavourable outcome. Most common law jurisdictions have default legal regimes governing succession in order to deal with situations where a person dies intestate (without a will). The problem is that each person’s situation is unique, and the default legislation will likely not result in a satisfactory outcome for the family.
It is important to note that no matter how old a person is, or what his or her financial situation is, the person should think carefully about having an estate plan and succession documents in place. Eventualities like the one in this story would be covered by a will and dealt with in accordance with the wishes of the person. A will would contain provisions to deal with a situation where the testator (in this case E’Dena Hines) predeceased her parents without having children of her own. This ensures that if an untimely death occurs, the assets of the testator will be dealt with according to her wishes.
For more updates on the Morgan Freeman estate dispute click here.