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LegalZoom Will Upheld In Sammy Davis, Jr. Estate Battle

LOS ANGELES, May 6, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The rights to most of the creative work of one of America's greatest entertainers, Sammy Davis, Jr., have been awarded to his son Manny after a contentious will contest in Los Angeles County's downtown courthouse.

Los Angeles County Probate Judge Reva Goetz awarded the multi-million dollar estate of Altovise Davis, the entertainer's widow, to their son, Manny.

His mother created a last will online through LegalZoom.com. In the May 3, 2010 decision, the judge ruled that the LegalZoom will shall be fully enforced because it met with the legal requirements. "I think that full weight should be given to the document as an expression of Mrs. Davis's intent with regard to her estate and what she wanted to happen to it," Goetz ruled.

When Sammy Davis, Jr. died from cancer in 1990, he left the bulk of his estate – and most of his career-related assets – to his wife Altovise. According to the testimony of witnesses, Mrs. Davis fell under the influence of two business partners who exaggerated their business credentials and deceived her to gain partial control of the Davis legacy. During this time, she executed a will drafted by an attorney that left her estate to the two business partners. 

In 2008, Mrs. Davis accused her partners of defrauding her and filed a lawsuit against them. Around this time, she purchased a new will from LegalZoom.com, leaving everything to Manny, her only son.

At trial, the former business partners sought to invalidate the LegalZoom will. 

Manny won on all counts.  The key finding was that the simple, do-it-yourself LegalZoom will "adequately conveyed her intent," according to Manny's attorney, Olu K. Orange. "The process by which it was created was user-friendly, so that even non-lawyers could create a will that stood up in court," said Orange.

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