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Harper Lee estate sued by production company

The process of estate planning in Ocean County is a fluid one that is not necessarily complete with the drafting of a will or other estate management instruments. Circumstances will certainly change over time, which could cause one to rethink earlier decisions and revise their estate documents to reflect their current wishes. The question then becomes which provisions are valid: those that were made initially or the revisions? 

Such is the question being raised in a dispute between a publishing company and the estate of the renowned novelist Harper Lee. In a claim filed against the Lee estate, representatives of the publishing company say that the author gave permission to its playwriter back in 1969 to create a stage adaptation of the novel . However, prior to her death, Lee gave permission to another producer in 2015 to come up with an updated version (which is currently being performed on Broadway). The 2015 agreement reportedly amended the terms of the one created in 1969, barring the earlier adaption from being performed in areas where the current one is running. 

The production company bringing the lawsuit said that it contacted the Lee estate to get authorization for several regional companies to produce the 1969 adaptation. Except for a New York-based production, all requests were approved. Yet earlier this year, representatives from Lee's estate contacted the production company and withdrew its authorization of the other productions. The performances had to be canceled, which resulted in financial losses. The production company is now suing the Lee estate to recover some of those losses. 

This case illustrates just how complex managing the provisions of a will or trust can be. Those needing assistance with such a task may find it in the form of an experienced estate attorney.  

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