In December 2011, major news outlets published the sad news that the legendary singer Etta James was terminally ill. Her doctor, who had cared for her since 2010, asked fans to pray for her in her final days. But news that all was not well in terms of the James’ estate came earlier that year when it emerged that her husband and conservator, Artis Mills (pictured, second left), was suing James’ son Dondo (far right), who has a different father. Mills wanted access to three of the singer’s bank accounts, which together held an estimated $1,000,000, per the Los Angeles Times. He argued that the money was necessary for James’ round-the-clock care, which included a personal doctor and chemotherapy treatments.
Dondo, who was born of a different father, gained power of attorney over James’ estate in 2008, and while he and his brother Sametto (far left) claim that they did so with James’ consent, Mills argued that the singer was not of sound mind when she made the decision. In the end, the court ruled that $350,000 should be released and that Mills would remain conservator of her estate, per the Los Angeles Times. In the wake of the revelations, law experts from several practices published articles highlighting how the legal wrangling over Etta James’ estate shows the importance of proper estate planning to mitigate the risk posed in later life by diseases such as dementia.