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Heirs accuse singer-songwriter's widow of deceit

Did the widow of singer-songwriter Sir Mack Rice, the legendary composer of Mustang Sally and other iconic hits, defraud her husband while he was alive?

That's essentially the allegation by one of the songwriter's sons from another relationship. The son has filed a lawsuit on behalf of his father's estate claiming that Rice's widow conspired with a company called Music Royalty Consulting to get Rice to sign over his rights to some of his creations for a fraction of their value. The lawsuit aims to have the sale contracts voided based on the fact that Rice had dementia at the time of their signing.

The lawsuit further claims that Rice's widow, who was nearly 20 years younger than the songwriter, had the company divert some of the sale money to a fictitious business in her name. She denies any involvement in the sale and claims that while she took care of the songwriter during his final years, she never interfered with nor negotiated his business dealings.

Estate battles involving intellectual property are distressingly common when a creative individual passes away and leaves behind an impressive -- and expensive -- body of work. Artists sometimes get so caught up in the creative aspects of their business that they fail to pay attention to more pragmatic matters -- like wills and estate plans.

Even when a will is in place, issues like dementia can lead to allegations that a creative individual's final choices weren't their own. It's unfortunate -- but true -- that some people will not hesitate to manipulate a senior whose mind is no longer clear in order to gain the lion's share of an inheritance.

If you believe that an estate was somehow wrongfully depleted, it's important to explore your legal options as quickly as possible with an experienced Colorado estate planning attorney. The longer you wait, the harder it may be to recover what was lost.

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