Even Superman doesn't avoid estate dispute
Estate plans are made because the future is impossible to predict -- even
if you have superpowers. In 1938, Jerome Siegel and Joseph Shuster, the
co-creators of the Superman character, signed away their rights to this
character and story. Needing money, and not having any idea how long-lasting
and profitable Superman would become, they gave exclusive rights to DC
Comics. As the comic gained in popularity, the two men were paid some
royalties and wages by DC Comics, and for a little while they probably
felt they had a pretty good arrangement.
However, it only took three years before Siegel and Shuster began to have second thoughts. From 1941 until now, they and their estates have made numerous legal attempts to gain back some ownership of the Superman name. This month, Warner Brothers won a definitive victory which limits the payments due these estates to the amount of money already agreed on in 2001.
With a new Superman movie due out in summer of 2013, Warner Bros. is relieved
to have this legal matter cleared up, but in the minds of the heirs of
Superman's creators, the matter will most likely never feel truly
settled. A less-than-ideal business decision decades ago has officially
meant the loss of money for the creators' heirs. And that is likely
hard to swallow.
Our law firm handles a variety of probate and estate administration matters. Battling over assets can be a stressful and emotional process that is wisely done with the level heads of experienced counsel.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Warner Bros. Wins Blockbuster Victory in Legal Battle for Superman," Eriq Gardner, Jan. 10, 2013