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The Mystery of Lucy's Rolls Royce

Lucille Ball entertained us with her slightly outrageous comedy, red hair and strides accomplished in entertainment. In the second season of I LOVE LUCY, she was pregnant, in real time and on the program. Did you know the sponsors referred to her condition as with child? They prohibited the use of the word pregnant.
Born as Lucille Desiree Ball in 1911, she enjoyed a career spanning decades. She was married twice and had two children with Desi Arnez, her first husband. Lucy and Desi were married in 1940 and again in 1949. In 1944 Lucy filed for a divorce, but the parties reconciled. In 1960, they were divorced.
Her marriage with Gary Morton was from 1969 to her death in 1989.
Her estate plan may have a miscalculation. In the section about personal effects, her estate planning documents had standard language leaving personal effects to her second husband.
Her estate plan also included a trust, still operating in 2007, to benefit her daughter initially, and later to benefit her grandchildren. While the trust is not public, at the time of her death, her estate was estimated to be about forty million dollars.
Personal property is distinguished from real property (called real estate).
When Gary Morton died in 1999, he left all of his personal possessions to his current wife. That included a lot of Lucy items like awards, autographed pictures, love letters, a 1984 Rolls Royce and other gifts.
In 2010, Gary Morton’s second wife decided to sell the Lucy items. Learning about the auction, Lucy’s daughter sued to stop the sale claiming that she “should” have those items. The judge didn’t agree but said that if she could put up a bond, the sale could be continued until the court sorted things out. The daughter said she didn’t have enough cash to buy the bond. Her attorneys then negotiated with the auction house, returning awards to be donated to a museum. The remainder of the items sold at auction for about $230,000.
What did Lucy intend? The Rolls Royce may have been owned jointly with her then husband. Or, she may have intended for the car to pass to him after her death. The love letters may have been from Gary or Desi or both, as reports differ.
Many of the personal items were engraved costly cigarette lighters. A cigarette manufacturer was one of the sponsors of the I Love Lucy show. Both Desi Arnez and Gary Morton died of lung cancer.
The mystery is what she intended. We’ll never know. Was the provision for the personal property to go to her second husband an oversight? She could have made other provisions for her children to have the items if that is what she wanted.
The lesson here is that if you have personal items, you can name a person or persons to receive those items after your death.

Author Una Tiers writes humorous mysteries with a dose of learning about the law. She loves to examine what went wrong and put it into a story.