Tentative ruling in Ike Turner estate dispute

EXCLUSIVE: Judge leans toward finding Ike Turner’s children as heirs
Tentative ruling says musician died without a vaild will
Teri Figueroa
October 30, 2009
North County Times
http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/sdcounty/article_cac69256-dc39-5860-b32f-3bc665874781.html
Musician Ike Turner did not have a valid will when he died of a cocaine overdose in his San Marcos home in 2007, and thus his adult children are the heirs of his estate, a judge has tentatively ruled.

Superior Court Judge Richard Cline’s decision on the fate of Turner’s estate comes at the end of a trial in a North County courtroom. The trial pitted three factions against each other: Turner’s adult children, Turner’s most recent ex-wife and an attorney who was a personal friend of the singer.

Two weeks after the trial ended, Cline issued a tentative finding that sided with the children.

The children —- Turner had at least four, but possibly as many as six —- argued their father died without a valid will, leaving them as the direct heirs of his estate under state law.

“We are really pleased with his ruling,” said attorney Carolyn Brock, who represents Turner’s daughter Twanna Melby.

The 16-page ruling, obtained by the North County Times on Friday, lays out Cline’s reasons for his decision.

Turner was found dead in his bedroom Dec. 12, 2007. His autopsy revealed he died of a cocaine overdose.

Less than a week after Turner died, ex-wife Audrey Madison Turner filed a petition stating that her ex-husband had penned a handwritten will naming her as a beneficiary.

Ike Turner wrote the will two months before he died.

In addition to Madison Turner’s claim, Turner’s friend and sometime attorney James Clayton produced a handwritten 2001 will in which Turner reportedly left everything to him, with instructions to contact Turner’s daughter Melby to decide how to divvy up the estate.

In his tentative ruling, Cline said the will to Clayton was valid. But that will was invalidated when Turner wrote his will to Madison Turner in October 2007.

And when Turner wrote a document to revoke his will to Madison Turner a month later, he did not revive or reinstate his 2001 will to Clayton.

Thus, Cline has tentatively found, the musician died without a valid will.

But the judge’s decision is not final. Cline scheduled a hearing on Friday, at which time attorneys can make their pitch to change his mind.

Calls to the attorneys for Clayton and Madison Turner were not immediately returned late Friday afternoon.

The value of the Grammy winner’s estate, however, remains a mystery.

The accounting has not been completed, Cline noted in his ruling, although he said “there is a potential of substantial value” in Turner’s rights to about 4,000 songs.

Included in that music catalog is all his work with famous former wife Tina Turner, according to Leodis Matthews, who represents four of Ike Turner’s adult children in the probate battle.

Attorney Matthews said money was not the primary motivator for the children in trying to win rights to their father’s estate.

“The family wanted to be in control of his legacy,” Matthews said. “That is their primary goal.”

A groundbreaking guitarist, pianist and bandleader who helped pioneer early rock ‘n’ roll and modern rhythm and blues, Turner’s reputation was tarnished by drug addiction, a stint in prison on drug-related charges and allegations on film and in print that he abused Tina Turner.

Ike Turner moved to San Marcos in 1991. In recent years, the musician had found critical acclaim when he returned to the rhythm and blues of his youth, releasing the Grammy-nominated “Here and Now” in 2001 and the Grammy-winning “Risin’ With the Blues” in 2006.

According to testimony, Turner had been clean for 14 years before returning to drugs in 2005.

His health became fragile and declined in the wake of the drug use, according to testimony.

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  • http://jeanetteturner.com Jeanette Turner

    Thank you for following this probate trial. There are some misprints regarding your information though. I am the original wife who moved here to San Diego with Mr. Turner. I have been romantically with him since 1988 before during and after prison. I encouraged him to get clean and stay clean and worked very hard to put him back on the map. Your newspaper has done articles on us at our San Marcos home in the past. I was married to him.

    Thank you again
    Jeanette Bazzell Turner

  • http://www.Natalac.com/ Natalac

    Salute