LEGAL DOCUMENT - TYPEWRITTEN
Benjamin W. Shipman
Attorney and Counselor at Law
Los Angeles, Calif.
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF STAN LAUREL
I, STAN LAUREL, a resident of the County of Los Angeles, State of California, over eighteen years of age, of sound and disposing mind, and not laboring under duress, fraud, menace or undue influence of any person whomsoever, realizing the uncertainty of life, do hereby make this my Last Will and Testament, and do hereby revoke any and all Wills and Codicils to Wills heretofore made by me, it being my wish to declare this instrument my Last Will and Testament.
FIRST: I hereby declare that I am married; that my wife's name is IDA KITAEVA LAUREL. I further declare that I have one child, LOIS LAUREL FALCONER, issue of a former marriage.
SECOND: I am, by this Will, leaving nothing to my beloved daughter, LOIS LAUREL FALCONER, for the reason that I have heretofore fully and amply provided for her.
THIRD: I do hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of the property of which I die possessed, or to which I may be entitled at the time of my death, of whatsoever kind or character and wheresoever situated, to my wife, IDA KITAEVA LAUREL.
FOURTH: I do hereby name and appoint BENJAMIN W. SHIPMAN to serve as executor of this, my Last Will and Testament, for the purpose of carrying out the terms and provisions hereof.
I hereby direct my said executor to pay all my just debts and funeral expenses as soon after my demise as may be lawfully and conveniently done.
I hereby expressly authorize and empower my said executor to sell, lease or mortgage the whole or any portion of my said estate at either public or private sale, with or without notice, but subject to such confirmation by Court as may be provided by law.
FIFTH: I do further state that I have no other persons entitled to share in my estate than those above enumerated, but in case any other lawful heir should appear, I give and bequeath to him and to her, and to each of them, the sum of One Dollar (l.00), it being my intention that no one shall share in my estate except the person whom I have named, and for whom I have, by this Last Will and Testament, provided.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this THIRD day of NOVEMBER, nineteen hundred and forty-seven.
ADMITTED TO PROBATE: APR 6, 1965
STAN LAUREL, the maker of the above Will and Testament, having declared to us that he executed the above Will and Testament, and having signed same in our presence, and having requested us to sign same in his presence, as witnesses thereto, we are signing same at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other.
G. I. WOODHAM-SMITH
Address: 11 Waterloo Place, London, England, Solicitor
EVIDENCE OF SUBSCRIBING WITNESS TO WILL
I, the undersigned state: That at all times hereinafter mentioned I was more than twenty-one years of age; that I reside at 14 Thurloe Square, London, England, and my residence on November 3rd 1947 was 11 Pembroke Court, Kensington, London aforesaid.
I was acquainted with STAN LAUREL on November 3rd, 1947, the date of the instrument on file herein, purporting to be the last will and testament of the said STAN LAUREL, deceased of which a photographic copy is hereunto attached, marked "Exhibit A"; (Said copy should be photographed AFTER filing, or must be certified by the clerk as a true copy.)
I have examined said "Exhibit A" and the signatures thereto. I recognize the signature purporting to have been signed by me as my signature, and the signatures purporting to have been signed by STAN LAUREL and G. I. WOODHAM-SMITH as their respective signatures.
The said instrument, of which "Exhibit A" is a photographic copy, was signed by the said STAN LAUREL, at the City of London, England, on November 3rd, 1947, the day it bears date, in the presence of both the said G. I. WOODHAM-SMITH and myself, and (he) thereupon declared to us, both present at the same time, that said instrument was (his) last will and testament. The said G. I. WOODHAM-SMITH and I then and there, at the request of the said STAN LAUREL and in (his) presence, and in the presence of each other, subscribed our names as witnesses thereto;
At the time of the subscription of said instrument, STAN LAUREL was approximately 57 years of age and appeared to be of sound and disposing mind and memory. To my knowledge, at the time (he) signed said instrument (he) did so of (his) own free will and was not acting under fraud, menace, duress, misrepresentation or undue influence on the part of anyone whomsoever.
I declare under the penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
(March 26, 1965)
IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF STAN LAUREL, DECEASED
I, the undersigned, state: That I will truly, honestly and impartially appraise the property of said estate which shall be exhibited to me, according to the best of my knowledge and ability.
I certify (or declare) under the penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
Dated: NOV 2, 1965
WILLIAM R. BURKE, Appraiser
Dated: October 27th, 1965
BENJAMIN W. SHIPMAN, Executor
Note: The Inventory must show, so far as can be ascertained by the executor or administrator, what portion of the property Is community property and what portion is separate property of the deceased. Section 601, Probate Code.)
Checking account, United California-Bank, Sixth and Grand office Los Angeles California - $2,849.45
Savings Account No. 127101-9, United California Bank - Sixth and Grand Office Los Angeles, California - $10,996.33
Savings Account No. 1-17838, Bank of America, Los Angeles Main Office, 7th & Spring Streets, Los Angeles, California - $4,087.22
Savings Account No. 8-5641, Bank of America, Sherman Oaks Branch, Sherman Oaks, California - $15,128.96
Certificate No. 1 for 400 shares (out of 1,000 issued and outstanding shares) of capital stock in LAUREL AND HARDY FEATURES PRODUCTIONS, a California corporation - $22,000.00
JOINT TENANCY PROPERTY: Real property in the City of Santa Monica, County of Los Angeles, State of California described as: Lot 161, of Tract 2385, as per map recorded in Book 23, at Page 110 of Maps, in the office of the County Recorder of said County - $36,500.00
I, the undersigned, duly appointed to appraise the estate of said deceased, hereby certify that I have appraised the same as specifically set forth in the foregoing inventory and at the total sum of 55,061.96 Dollars ($55,061.96).
—W. R. BURKE
October 21, 1966
VIRGINIA RUTH LAUREL SAYS:
I am a creditor of the above estate. There is now pending in this court action Number 875,992 entitled VIRGINIA RUTH LAUREL vs. BENJAMIN W, SHIPMAN, etc., et al. In that action I am seeking to recover my share of the earnings of STAN LAUREL, hereinafter referred to as STAN, in accordance with a support agreement made by STAN and me when we were first divorced in 1936. An issue in that action, which Will be tried 20 March 1969, is the extent of such earnings.
A few months after I remarried STAN in 1941, I began to have difficulty with a wisdom tooth, which was removed by an oral surgeon. Thereafter my health became poorer, During World War II transportation was very difficult due to gasoline rationing. Since I had to consult physicians and surgeons frequently, I moved into the city. STAN remained at the ranch but would stay with me for days at a time. My health continued to be very precarious until 1958, when the second of two operations finally eliminated a blood infection which was attributed to the 1941 surgery.
BENJAMIN W, SHIPMAN, hereinafter called BEN, was bitterly opposed to STAN'S remarriage to me. He kept harassing me by telephone at least thrice weekly. He threatened that if I did not divorce STAN, he would frame me. I knew that he had me followed by detectives. My health was then so poor that I could not take any more of BEN's pressure. I was almost penniless and could not pay my heavy medical expenses. BEN took all of STAN's money and gave me virtually nothing, completely disregarding my rights as STAN's wife.
BEN promised to pay me five percent of STAN's actual earnings without regard to the existence of a closed corporation which BEN had formed and in which he held a twenty percent interest, the remainder being equally divided between OLIVER HARDY and STAN. BEN paid my transportation to and from Las Vegas, Nevada, and one hotel room for me and my father. I remained there exactly six weeks with out any intention of acquiring residence in Nevada, and after my divorce was granted, I returned to California on the very day of the hearing.
Although STAN was not as active in motion pictures during his later years as formerly, he made personal appearances. Books were written and dolls and other toys manufactured. Cartoons were made for television broadcast. Furthermore, for many of the films he made with OLIVER HARDY, STAN was paid proportionately more because he wrote the scenarios.
STAN was like a child in business matters and others easily took advantage of him. This was well known to BEN, who acted both as his attorney and his business manager. lONE SHIPMAN was BEN's secretary, both before and after her marriage to BEN, and was intimately involved in all his affairs.
The great disparity between STAN's activities and consequent subsidiary rights and the small estate revealed by the inventory and appraisement filed by BEN confirmed my suspicions that BEN, probably over a long period of time, and more than likely with the connivance of lONE SHIPMAN, has been diverting or concealing STAN's earnings.
Since a final settlement of the estate is possible only by a proper resolution of this question, I believe that a strong conflict of interest would prevent lONE SHIPMAN from performing her duties as administratrix in this respect.
IDA KITAEVA LAUREL is of Russian origin. Her knowledge of English was and is extremely restricted. She knows nothing of STAN'S business affairs or BEN's role therein and she is incapable of a truly informed decision in this matter.
I believe that it would be most fitting for the court to appoint a corporate fiduciary as administrator.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed on 28 December 1968 at Santa Monica, California.
VIRGINIA RUTH LAUREL, Objector
PETITION FOR FINAL DISTRIBUTION, AND PETITION FOR ALLOWANCE OF ATTORNEY FEES AND EXTRAORDINARY FEE FOR ATTORNEY
The Petition of Ione Shipman, as Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed of Stan Laurel, deceased, respectfully shows:
That Stan Laurel died instate on February 21, 1965, and at the time of his death was a resident of the County of Los Angeles, State of California, leaving property and subject to administration in said County and State. Subsequently, this court made its order admitting his Will to probate and Letters Testamentary were issued on April 13, 1965, to Benjamin W. Shipman as Executor. From April 11, 1965 until his final discharge as Executor on account of illness so ordered on July 8, 1969, Benjamin W. Shipman administered said estate. After approval of his Final Accounting and Resignation and Discharge, Ione Shipman was appointed Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed of said estate, and she qualified as such on April 14, 1969.
In accordance with the Final Accounting of the Executor Benjamin W. Shipman, there was delivered to and received by Ione Shipman as Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed of the estate of Stan Laurel $45,095.02, and your Petitioner as such Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed is chargeable therewith.
Notice to creditors was duly published by the Executor Benjamin W. Shipman during his administration, and as shown by the files and records of this case, more than six months have elapsed since said publication was made on April 14, 21, 28, and May 5, 1965. An affidavit showing such due publication of notice has been filed in this estate.
All claims presented against said estate have been paid except a claim that was rejected and thereafter settled pursuant to an order of court permitting such settlement, in the sum of $133.00. No rejected nor contested claims remain and time for filing any creditor's slain against the estate has expired.
The inventory and Appraisement shows the value of the estate to be $55,061.96. The Report of the Inheritance tax Appraiser in this matter has been filed showing a total tax due of $75.82, which sum plus interest therein of $12.09 has been duly paid.
All of the debts of said decedent and said estate, and all taxes (Federal income, California income, Inheritance taxes, and all other taxes that have accrued against said estate) have been paid. There is no estate tax due and payable as a result of the death of said decedent.
All expenses, liabilities, claims and obligations of said estate have been paid except statutory commissions for the attorney of said estate and extraordinary statutory fees for said attorney. The statutory fees of said attorney calculated upon amounts in the Inventory and Account of Benjamin W. Shipman as Executor, and in the Account included herein, amount to $2,015.39.
Benjamin W. Shipman as Executor and your Petitioner as Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed, waived commissions as such.
Your Petitioner as Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed is chargeable with amount received from Benjamin W. Shipman as Executor in the sum of: $45,095.02
Your Petitioner has received since her appointment as Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed the following:
Interest on Savings Account:
Remittance from Doubleday:
Remittance from Doubleday:
Funds from Laurel & Hardy Trust:
Your Petitioner is chargeable with the total amount of $47,171.18
Your Administratrix has paid out the following:
On account of Family Allowance to Ida Kitaeva Laurel, pursuant to court order, to and including November 31, 1960:
Paid to Virginia Ruth Laurel on account of compromise and dismissal of Lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court action No. 875,992:
Premium on Administratrix Bond:
Printing of estate
Internal Revenue Service:
Paid to Milo V. Olson for costs on miscellaneous certified copies of court documents:
Principal on Inheritance Tax paid:
Interest on Inheritance Tax paid:
Income Tax paid:
Pre-certified copies of Estate of Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed, 12/1/69:
Balance chargeable to Administratrix and available for distribution after payment of statutory attorney fees and extraordinary attorney fees as allowed by court:
For computing statutory attorney fees, the following is submitted:
Total Inventory and Appraisement:
Total receipts by Executor Benjamin W. Shipman pursuant to his accounting:
Total receipts by Administratrix-With-Will_annexed, as shown by the above accounting:
TOTAL ESTATE ACCOUNTED FOR:
Statutory fee for attorney is $2,015.39
PETITION FOR EXTRAORDINARY FEES
As shown by Final Accounting of Benjamin W. Shipman as Executor in his Petition to resign on account of illness, the settlement and appointment and payment of attorney fees was to be fixed, appointed and paid out at the time of the final Accounting and distribution of the estate. Accordingly, the foregoing sets forth the total statutory fees and commissions due Milo V. Olson, Esq., as attorney for both the Executor and Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed, based on the total estate accounted for.
In addition to the foregoing, Milo V. Olson, as attorney both for the Executor and Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed of the above estate performed extraordinary and unusual services for which no fee has been paid. In that regard, the following extraordinary services were rendered:
A. A rather complicated petition for instructions authorizing the Executor to enter into a contract with Wolper Productions, Inc., was prepared, presented to the court for approval, and was approved on October 4, 1965.
B. A Will-contest of the Last Will and Testament of decedent was filed by Lois Laurel Brooks, daughter of decedent. An answer to said contest was prepared and filed on behalf of the Executor and on behalf of the estate. After negotiations, without payment of any money, Milo V. Olson, as attorney for the estate, was successful in obtaining a dismissal of said Will-contest.
C. Virginia Ruth Laurel, ex-wife of decedent, filed a claim against the estate, in which she claimed that there had not been a proper accounting of 5% of the gross earnings of Stan Laurel to her, and claimed that said 5% should continue to be paid to her after his death. Milo V. Olson advised the Executor to reject the claim, and this was done. After rejection of this claim, Virginia Ruth Laurel filed a lawsuit which Milo V. Olson answered on behalf of the Executor. Motion for summary judgement was prepared and heard, depositions were taken, and negotiations at great length were conducted with counsel for Virginia Ruth Laurel. The matter was extensively briefed, Virginia Ruth Laurel then substituted new counsel. The case was set for trial. A trial brief was prepared and at the trial, Milo V. Olson was able to convince counsel for Virginia Ruth Laurel that she was to be allotted no more than a minimal amount of $133.00. This amount was ordered paid pursuant to stipulation thus obtained in open court, and the estate was ordered to pay said amount, which has been paid. This represented a substantial victory on behalf of the estate.
D. In addition thereto, both the daughter Lois Laurel Brooks and the ex-wife Virginia Ruth Laurel, attempted to take over control of the estate she Benjamin W. Shipman resigned as Executor and Ione Shipman was nominated Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed by Ida Kitaeva Laurel. This control was attempted on the basis that the divorce from Stan Laurel by Virginia Ruth Laurel was illegal and that Ida Kitaeva Laurel was not the surviving wife of the decedent, and that Virginia Ruth Laurel had assigned a half interest of what would otherwise go to her, to Lois Laurel Brooks. This matter came on for hearing before the above court as a contested matter, before the Honorable Arthur K. Marshall, Judge thereof, and Milo V. Olson prepared an extensive brief on behalf of the estate and the only Beneficiary of the state. As a result of said brief and oral argument, Judge Marshall sustained the objections made on behalf of the estate to having Virginia Ruth Laurel or Lois Laurel Brooks nominate an Administrator, denied the petition for the appointment of the Bank as Administrator-With_Will-Annexed, and appointed Ione Shipman as Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed.
On such extraordinary matters, Milo V. Olson expensed no less than 50 hours, and hence, suggests the extraordinary fee of $2,500.00 in addition to the statutory fee is reasonable.
There remains for distribution as assets in the hands of Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed cash in savings accounts of $00,000,00, cash in checking account of approximately $0,000.00, and thus, a total of cash on hand of approximately $00,459.80, in addition thereto, certificate No. 1 for 400 shares of the capital stock of Laurel & Hardy Feature Productions, a California corporation, worth $22,000.00 appraised value, is available for distribution, and all interest of the estate in and to all rights under said certificate No. 1.
In accordance with the Last Will and Testament of Stan Laurel, deceased, admitted in probate to this estate, the entire estate of said decedent is to be given to decedent's wife, Ida Kitaeva Laurel, and after payment of statutory commissions and extraordinary fees allowed Milo V. Olson as attorney for the estate, all the balance of the assets of said estate in the possession of Ione Shipman, as Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed of the estate of Stan Laure, deceased, should be distributed to Ida Kitaeva Laurel. Upon payment of said sees and such distribution, Ione Shipman as such Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed should be discharged.
WHEREFORE, your Petitioner prays that this Final Account and report, together with Petition for Final Distribution be act for hearing and be heard; that notice of said hearing be given according to law, that said Final Account be settled and allowed as filed; that the acts of your Petitioner be approved; that the statutory commission or attorney fee for Milo V. Olson be allowed in the sum of $2,015.39; that the court approve as extraordinary fee for Milo V. Olson the sum of $2,500.00, that after paying such statutory commission and extraordinary fee, the balance of said estate of decedent in possession of your Petitioner be ordered distributed in accordance with the Last Will and Testament of decedent, to Ida Kitaeva Laurel, that the administration of said estate be brought to a close; that your Petitioner be discharged from her trust as Administratrix-With-Will-Annexed of the estate of Stan Laurel, deceased, upon distribution of said estate as directed by this court; that your Petitioner's bond be exonerated upon such final discharge; and that all further orders in the estate be made as necessary.
—Los Angeles, California
October 21, 1966