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Woman claiming to be Elvis' daughter sues his estate

The purpose of a will and other estate planning vehicles is to make sure that your desires regarding how your assets are distributed upon your death are fulfilled as you would have them, rather than by a New Jersey court judge.

But any will is only as solid as the provisions that are put into it. Sometimes questions can arise about the mental competency of the person making the will. Sometimes secrets of the past can surface that even the maker of a will doesn't know about, resulting in confusion and a legal battle. The help of a lawyer in such instances is essential.

An example of how issues surrounding an estate can develop is offered in the story about a lawsuit that has been filed in Tennessee against the family of the late Elvis Presley. Lisa Johansen, a Swedish woman who has been pressing a claim that she is the "real daughter" of Elvis for more than 20 years, is seeking $130 million from the estate. She alleges that the family's efforts to foil her rightful claim to her heritage has resulted in her being defamed and caused her emotional distress.

The suit is actually just the latest in a series of disputes that involve this woman. In 1998, she authored a book in which she laid out specifics of her claim of being Elvis' daughter. It generated some interest initially, but the notoriety waned quickly when she refused to take a DNA test to prove her assertions. Book sales fell off and the publisher sued the woman seeking $50 million in damages.

More recently, on the most recent anniversary of Elvis' death, Johansen showed up at Graceland, the Presley estate and spoke with some staff members. She also went to authorities in the United Kingdom and asked them to investigate her claim of identity theft in the case. That triggered a letter from the family in which they threatened action if she didn't give up her claim. And that spurred the woman's suit in Tennessee.

The current escalation of the issue has one interesting twist. According to one document she has submitted in the case, this time she's willing to undergo DNA testing. That could prove significant.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Elvis Presley Estate Sued For $130 Million By King's 'Real Daughter'," Eriq Gardner, Nov. 29, 2011

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