Having your wishes followed after your passing can be both difficult and devastating to your family. If you do not have your estate legally tended to, it can lead to legal battles that can spin wildly out of control for years. The widow of late R&B Singer Teddy Pendergrass knows this all too well. The children of her late husband spun a web of alleged lies, and now this widow’s lawsuit is trying to regain some of what she lost.
A Widow Singing the Blues Over Her Inheritance
In 2010, Teddy Pendergrass passed away due to respiratory failure. He was 59 years old. Pendergrass had built a legendary career, starting out as the lead singer for Harold Melvin and the Blues Notes. When he split with the band, the singer continued to sell millions of albums and became the father of the Philly soul style of R&B.
Before he passed, Pendergrass left a will that named his wife as the sole heir to his estate. However, Pendergrass’ children disputed that will. Teddy Pendergrass Jr. produced a document that he claimed was his father’s legitimate will, and so the family went to court to determine who was the true heir to the famous singer’s fortune.
After almost six years of legal battles, the Montgomery County Pennsylvania Orphans Court ruled that the will produced by Pendergrass Jr. was fake. This ruling left the famous singer’s estate to his widow, but so much damage had been done in that six years. Joan Pendergrass, Teddy’s widow, was subjected not only to distressing courtroom fights, but her life and relationship with Teddy was poked and prodded relentlessly. As a result, she claims to have suffered emotional distress, diminished reputation and humiliation in addition to spending $850,000 in legal fees.
Because of this, Joan Pendergrass is suing Pendergrass Jr., his attorneys, his stepsisters and their lawyer. The notary who certified the will that was later found to be a fake was also mentioned in the lawsuit. This could lead to the entire family enduring several more years of legal battles. Do you think the effort will be worth it? Can this family ever be healed?
Having a well-constructed and thought out will and trust can go a long way toward preventing legal struggles like this from haunting your family. Experienced counsel that knows how to draft such powerful documents are a must when planning for the future of your family once you are gone.