Harper Lee is among a handful of American writers, including JD Salinger and Thomas Pynchon, who have preferred to live private lives. Other writers crave publicity, but Lee was different.
Controversies arose over her novel To Kill a Mockingbird as evolving views on race in the U.S. have seen successive generations debate whether it is an appropriate book to be taught in schools. Lee preferred to remain quiet and not weigh in on the disputes. Since she passed away, her estate has not been nearly as private.
It has found itself involved in multiple legal disputes. Recently, the estate filed another lawsuit against a theater production company over an adaptation of the novel, according to Everything Lubbock in "Harper Lee estate sues over 'Mockingbird' Broadway version."
The adaptation of the novel for the stage was authorized and was being written by Aaron Sorkin. The estate claims that the contract giving authority for the adaptation required the play to remain faithful to the novel. Apparently, the play does not.
Sorkin's play changes some characters inappropriately and even adds new characters, according to the estate. The theater company disputes these claims.
It is not necessarily a problem that the estate has a different attitude than Lee. In the absence of explicit prohibitions, an estate trustee has a continuing duty to protect the interests of the estate for the beneficiaries of that estate. In the case of valuable works, that duty can lead to pursuing lawsuits the trustee believes are necessary to protect the estate's interests.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your estate plans or when probating an estate or administering a trust, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage a Cincinnati estate planning attorney.
For more information about estate planning, probate or trust administration in Cincinnati (and throughout the rest of Southwest Ohio) and to review free resources regarding estate planning, probate or trust administration, visit my website. If you have questions regarding this article or a particular legal matter, feel free to contact me at 513-399-PLAN (7526).
Reference: Everything Lubbock (March 14, 2018) "Harper Lee estate sues over 'Mockingbird' Broadway version."