How was Priscilla Presley Able to Contest Her Daughter's Trust?

Lisa Marie Presley died on Jan. 12, 2023, at the age of 54. The only daughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley was the heir to her father’s estate, which included their Graceland home and all of the property in it. Lisa Marie secured Graceland and its contents, worth an estimated $400-$600 million, into a trust.

When Lisa Marie authored the trust in 2010, she listed her mother Priscilla and business manager Barry Siegel as successor co-trustees. A successor trustee is a person who is in charge of and must manage the trust after the author of the trust has passed. The person who ultimately benefits from the trust is the beneficiary.

Priscilla recently filed a motion in Los Angeles County challenging a 2016 amendment to Lisa Marie’s trust that removed Priscilla and Siegel as trustees, replacing them with Lisa Marie’s children Riley Keough and the late Ben Keough.

In her filing, Priscilla questions the authenticity and validity of the 2016 amendment, alleging that she did not receive delivery of the notice while her daughter was alive, as required by the trust. In addition, Priscilla’s motion states that the amendment wasn’t witnessed or notarized, that her name was misspelled, that her daughter’s signature appears inconsistent with her usual and customary signature, and other allegations. Priscilla is requesting an order from the court declaring that the updated version of the trust is invalid.

How does someone contest a trust or will?

There are times, such as in Priscilla’s case, when the terms of a trust (or will) or the circumstances surrounding its execution raise concern or suspicion, calling the trust’s validity into question.

An interested person, usually someone who has been disinherited through the estate planning documents or who, as a relative, would have been entitled to a larger share of the estate under the law, may file an objection in writing with the court if he or she believes grounds exist. This kind of lawsuit is called a contest.

Michigan law allows residents to contest a will or trust based on the following factors:

  • Improper execution, such as having not met form, signature, and witnessing requirements, or the requirements of a valid holographic (handwritten) will;
  • Undue influence, meaning the person writing the will experienced coercive pressure from a person of trust;
  • Lack of testamentary capacity, which means the person who authored the will lacks the mental and legal capacity to do so;
  • Fraud;
  • Duress;
  • Forgery;
  • Lack of testamentary intention; and
  • Revocation such as by physical destruction or execution of a later will that replaces the earlier one.

Anyone who is considering whether a will or trust should be contested or who faces a contest should speak with an experienced estate litigation attorney.

Help is available

The estate planning attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are ready to assist clients with both sides of will contests and other probate litigation. For more information, please call 586-726-1000 or visit our website.