All About Estates

Still Feeling Shook Up – Presley Family Back in the News

Last year, I wrote about the death of Lisa Marie Presley (“Lisa Marie”) and the resulting court battle between Riley Keough (“Riley”), Lisa Marie’s daughter and Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie’s mother[1]. Thankfully, that matter was resolved relatively quickly with Priscilla resigning as a trustee of Lisa Marie’s irrevocable trust, The Promenade Trust (the “Trust”) in exchange for (i) $1M lump sum payment, (ii) the right to be buried beside Elvis Presley at Graceland, and (iii) $100,000 a year for her services as a “special advisor” to the Trust. Priscilla’s role as a “special advisor” is for a period of ten (10) years or until her date of death. As a result of Priscilla’s resignation, Riley was left as the sole trustee of the Trust.

Now, Lisa Marie’s Estate and the Trust are back in the news again as an attempt to foreclose on Elvis’ beloved Graceland was halted by Riley, as the trustee of the Trust. The Trust holds a 15% interest in Graceland.

Naussany Investments and Private Lending alleged that Lisa Marie had borrowed $3.8M USD from them back in 2018 in exchange for collateral being placed against Graceland. It is alleged that Lisa Marie failed to repay that loan. Riley is contesting the allegations, arguing that Lisa Marie never borrowed money from this company and was seeking an injunction against the sale of Graceland. A Tennessee judge halted a scheduled foreclosure auction that had been scheduled for the week of May 20, 2024.

In connection with Riley’s counterclaim against Naussany Investments and Private Lending, the notary who was listed on the documents has indicated that she never met Lisa Marie and had never notarized any documents for her, in particular a promissory note, which Riley is alleging has been forged. Riley also argued that the documents were never registered with the county’s Register’s Office.

The company has now since withdrawn its claims to the property, while the attorney general for Tennessee is reviewing the attempt to sell Graceland in foreclosure. From what it appears, someone thought they could pull a fast one and steal Graceland from the Trust.

This case is a reminder of some important steps executors and trustees should take in securing and protecting estate assets. When an individual dies, it is prudent for the executor/estate trustee to:

  • notify both Equifax and TransUnion of the deceased’s death so that they can flag the deceased’s credit files to protect against any potential fraud;
  • search the deceased’s records for any financial statements concerning loans, mortgages or debts and to contact the creditors of the estate to make arrangements for payment. This can include reviewing title to any real estate;
  • where real estate is held by the deceased, ensure adequate insurance coverage is in place. If the insurance is not sufficient, making the necessary arrangements for coverage to be acquired; and
  • have the deceased’s mail re-directed so the executor/trustee can ensure that all important notices are being received.

When a new trustee of an inter vivos trust or testamentary trust is appointed, it would be prudent for the new trustee to review the records of the trust and to satisfy themselves of the assets and liabilities. Certainly, from the time their appointment is effective, the new trustee should be provided with copies of all financial statements, relevant documents pertaining to the trust and should ensure that such documents are reviewed regularly to assist with the protection against fraud.

A properly drafted trust agreement or will should have language granting the trustee with the power to take, institute, maintain, defend or defer any action or other proceeding which may be necessary or advisable in the opinion of the trustee for the preservation or protection of, or realization upon, any property forming part of the trust fund or estate, and to compromise and/or settle the same.

Regardless of whether the trust agreement or will contains the aforementioned language, the trustee/executor still has a fiduciary obligation to preserve the assets of the trust/estate and defend against any creditor claims. In Ontario, the trustees rely on the powers provided to them from the Trustee Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. T.23

As the trustee, Riley used her powers to defend against the now unsuccessful attempt at foreclosing on Graceland. For now, Graceland will remain an attraction for Elvis fans from around the world.



About Jennifer Campbell
Jennifer Campbell is a Law Clerk in the firm’s Toronto Private Client Services Group and Trusts, Wills, Estates and Charities Group. Jennifer has extensive experience assisting executors and trustees in managing complex, high-value estates and trusts. Jennifer specializes in the administration of estates and trusts. Assisting in all aspects of estates work, Jennifer’s primary responsibilities include providing support to the lawyers in the practice group, the day-to-day administration and management of estates and trusts, including gathering in assets, winding up of estates and trusts and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Jennifer is responsible for the preparation of all probate related documentation, preparation of estate and trust accounts, the preparation of court documentation in connection with passing of accounts and has experience in assisting individuals establish bare trust arrangements in connection with their estate planning solutions. Jennifer has received a Certificate in Estates and Trust Administration from STEP Canada.


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