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Estates & Wills & Trusts

Zappa estate dispute continues

By Charles Ticker

Frank Vincent Zappa (December 2, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was a world-famous American musician. He composed various kinds of music, including rock, jazz and orchestral, and released more than 60 albums as a solo artist or with his band, the Mothers of Invention. Unfortunately, he passed away on December 4, 1993 after a long battle with cancer.

His children are now involved in a bitter dispute over his assets. Frank Zappa had four children: Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet, and Diva. This dispute seems to have started in October 2015 when Gail Zappa, Frank Zappa’s widow, passed away from lung cancer at age 70. She controlled the Zappa estate until her death.

After she died, it was revealed that she had passed control of the Zappa estate to Ahmet and Diva. They also receive 30 per cent each of the estate. Moon and Dweezil receive 20 per cent each, but have no say in what happens with the business in the future.

Gail Zappa’s decision appears to be based on the previous roles the children had. Various sources report that Moon and Dweezil never had any interest in the family business, while Ahmet is a businessman who helped his mother with various deals. Full story here.

Furthermore, Dweezil is a musician who performed under the name Zappa Plays Zappa. He allegedly did not have permission from the estate to perform and to sell merchandise using the family name. This resulted in several cease-and-desist letters and tension within the family.

Zappa estate assets and future earnings could be vast

The four siblings involved in this dispute have a lot at stake. Frank Zappa released over 60 albums and is considered a very influential musician. It has been reported that the Zappa family trust, which runs the Zappa business, recently signed an agreement with Universal for reissues and unreleased live material. The Zappa family home is also valuable. It was on the market for $5.5 million and recently sold for $5.25 million.

The unequal distribution of the estate between the siblings appears to be very problematic. Also, only two of the four siblings have control of what happens with the business. The Zappa estate will continue to generate significant future earnings. A prolonged dispute is very likely.

More on this story here.

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