Far too many people in White Plains may view the job of helping to administer an estate as being limited to ensuring that assets are directed to designated beneficiaries. While that may be all that is required of an executor or personal representative in some cases, other times whoever is tasked with fulfilling that role may be called upon again and again to represent the estate’s interest. This is especially true for estates that count artistic or intellectual properties amongst their assets. Third parties may seek permission to utilize such assets in the future, and it is the job of the estate executor to ensure that any use is in accordance with the desires conveyed by an estate’s testator.
Managing that use can often result in contention. Such is what is currently happening with the estate of the late novelist Harper Lee. In 2015, Lee came to an agreement with a producer to create a stage adaption of her landmark work . She had entered into a similar agreement with another production company back in 1969. A provision was included in the 1969 agreement that stated that its production could not be run concurrently with any subsequent “first-class” adaptions playing in the same general area. Earlier this year, representatives from Lee’s estate contact the leadership of the company managing the earlier production stating that several planned performances were in violation of their agreement and needed to be shut down. The company is now suing the estate to cover some of the costs associated with the cancellations, claiming they had initially received permission from the estate to stage the productions.
This case demonstrates just how complicated managing an estate can be. Those asked to do it may want to enlist the aid of an experienced estate attorney.