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Son Wins Sammy Davis, Jr. Estate After Online Will Is Challenged

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Thu, May 6, 2010 at 4:12 PM
click to enlarge Sammy Davis, Jr. with President Richard Nixon.
  • Sammy Davis, Jr. with President Richard Nixon.

The son of late entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr. was awarded the rights to most of his creative output, including his recordings and life story, after a court upheld the legality of a will that was created via online law center LegalZoom.com, the company announced Thursday afternoon.

After his mother, Altovise Davis, died and willed the intellectual property to son Manny, Los Angeles County Probate Judge Reva Goetz upheld the legal document. "I think that full weight should be given to the document as an expression of Mrs. Davis's intent with regard to her estate and what she wanted to happen to it," Goetz stated.

Sammy Davis, Jr. died from cancer in 1990 and left almost everything to his wife. It was alleged in court, however, that she was deceived by two business partners who gained some control of the estate. After accusing the pair of defrauding her in 2008, she used LegalZoom.com to leave the estate to only son Manny.

Those partners challenged the will, partially because it was executed via a do-it-yourself site. But the judge wasn't having it. At trial, the former business partners sought to invalidate the LegalZoom will.

"The other side questioned whether the LegalZoom will accurately reflected what Mrs. Davis wanted to be in the will," plaintiff's attorney Ulu K. Orange said. "It was very clear, based on looking at the will and listening to the witnesses, that the will that was produced from LegalZoom was exactly what she intended, as far as the disposition of her estate."

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