Estate dispute arises for singer’s estate

Pennsylvania residents might not have heard of Robert Velline, but Bobby Vee might be more familiar. When the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens were killed in a 1959 plane crash, it was Bobby Vee that took their place at the trio’s planned performance in Moorhead, Minnesota. A lot has happened since the former teen idol performed, and the man’s family is now arguing about the singer’s estate after his passing in October 2016.

Velline died at age 73 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and his four children are in dispute over the earnings from a play about the singer’s life. Robert Velline and Jennifer Whittet Velline allege that their two siblings mishandled estate money. They seek damages of more than $50,000 for the performance of a play they objected to because of the content, subsidiary rights, division of revenue and other causes. They also say that their mother only approved of the play if all the children reached an agreement.

Development on the play moved forward despite objections as Jeffrey Velline reportedly said he could authorize production as he was Vee’s attorney. This action is said to have prompted Karen Velline, Vee’s wife, to put her husband’s memorabilia, collectibles and business assets into a trust. She also named Jennifer as the conservator of Vee’s estate and his guardian. Mrs. Velline also wrote a statement opposing the play and wanted Jeffrey to no longer represent Vee. Revenue from the show was divided between a production company, the theater and the playwright.

Estate administration is intended to make life easier after a loved one passes, but the distribution of assets may cause disputes. To avoid arguments, one might clearly explain wishes in a will or trust.