Another day, another celebrity estate battle. Hallelujah for the attorneys. This time it is the estate of beloved singer, songwriter, author, and poet Leonard Cohen.
“Leonard Cohen’s lawyers and manager forged his trust so they could fleece the estate of millions of dollars and steal the Hall of Famer’s legacy from his own children,” attorney Adam Streisand told The Post. (Oh yes, Adam Streisand is Barbra Streisand’s cousin). Streisand alleged that after Cohen died, the lawyer “swapped out … the page that says Adam, Lorca and Anjani (Cohen’s ex-wife), with a new page … that says Kory is designated trustee.”
In Cohen’s later years, he came to rely upon attorney Robert Kory in California. Cohen’s children, daughter Lorca and son Adam are fighting Kory in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
“Children have taken these pledges
They have ferried them out of the past” – Humbled in Love
In support of Kory, Cohen’s estate planning attorney, Reeve Chudd, wrote to the Court that “In 2016, without Mr. Kory’s request, Mr. Cohen instructed me to change the successor trustee to Mr. Kory.” “He [Cohen] was concerned that his children didn’t have a sufficiently comfortable relationship to work together upon the complexities of the artist’s estate.”
The court papers state that Cohen wanted the change kept secret. “While Mr. Cohen didn’t wish for this change in the succession of trusteeship to be revealed to his children, Mr. Kory insisted, and this was explained to Adam and Lorca at a meeting in September 2015,” according to Chudd in his letter.
And you want to travel with him,
and you want to travel blind
And then you think maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body
with his mind. – Suzanne
Leonard Cohen died in 2016 after a battle with cancer. Cohen executed a trust during his lifetime. The trust value is around $48 million. The assets are the singer’s music, poetry, novels, photographs, and 243 journal notebooks kept by Cohen since he was a teen. These assets generate millions in royalties each year.
To his credit, attorney Kory has worked to monetize the estate. Kory directed the publication of a novel written by Cohen, “A Ballet of Lepers.” Kory also helped to open “Everybody Knows,” an exhibit at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario.
Among the complaints of Cohen’s children was Kory’s lack of communication with them about his plans for and administration of the Trust estate. Their complaint calls to mind an oft-battled principle of trust law. What is a trustee’s obligation to inform trust beneficiaries? Certainly, beneficiaries are entitled to an annual accounting of trust assets under the law of most states. Whether or not the children were entitled to ongoing information is debatable.
Leonard Cohen is likely grieving this situation from beyond with the lyrics from “Heart with no Companion:”
Now I greet you from the other side of sorrow and despair,
with a love so vast and so shattered,
it will reach you everywhere.