How are Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Different?

Many of us use the terms “Alzheimer’s Disease” and “dementia” as if they mean the same thing.

“Many people do think that they’re interchangeable, but there are differences,” Claire Sexton, D.Phil., director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association, points out. Knowing the difference can help you (and in turn, your loved ones) navigate the world of brain health a little more easily and get the right diagnosis, according to Prevention’s recent article entitled “What’s the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?”

“Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of diseases that are characterized by cognitive decline—and then Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia under that umbrella,” says Zaldy S. Tan, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Cedars-Sinai Health System Memory and Aging Program. Therefore, while they’re related, they’re not interchangeable terms.

Dementia as a whole is tricky because “there’s no questionnaire that you can fill out and say, ‘Oh, I have this type of dementia,’” says Dr. Tan. “It’s very complex and the presentations vary from person to person, so if you have two people and they both have Alzheimer’s disease, their presentation may be quite different.”

It’s estimated that 60 to 70% of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the World Health Organization. However, the remaining 30 to 40% of dementia cases are comprised of a wide variety of conditions.

Dementia is simply an umbrella term that refers to any condition that impairs cognition, but there are many conditions that can limit brainpower. Alzheimer’s is the most common one.

“The FDA-approved medications that we have are mostly for Alzheimer’s dementia because that’s the most common type of dementia and the one that’s most-researched,” explains Dr. Tan. “For other forms of dementia—like Lewy body, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s dementia—there’s really no specific FDA-approved medication.”

However, he says, a person diagnosed with another form of dementia may still be prescribed a drug that’s designed to treat Alzheimer’s disease. “The reason is that Alzheimer’s Disease can co-exist with other forms of dementia and treating it with these medications may help the overall memory or thinking of the person,” says Dr. Tan.

At its onset, Alzheimer’s tends to affect more of your learning and memory than other types of dementia, which might be more likely to affect planning or language. In the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s, there are buildups (often referred to as plaques) of beta amyloid protein fragments between nerve cells, as well as tangles of the protein tau inside cells.

As the disease progresses and more of the brain is impacted, a person may experience behavior changes, confusion, delusions and difficulty speaking or walking. Other types of dementia can progress differently, depending on what parts of the brain are affected.

If you believe that you’re experiencing any warning signs of dementia, see a physician and request a cognitive assessment at your annual physical, so your results can be compared year-over-year and declines can be identified and addressed right away—just like a colonoscopy, blood pressure screening, or cholesterol testing.

Reference: Prevention (Sep. 25, 2021) “What’s the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?”

 

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What Is a Silent Heart Attack and What are the Warning Signs?

AARP’s recent article entitled “8 Warning Signs of a ‘Silent’ Heart Attack That Are Easy to Overlook” explains that these so-called silent heart attacks account for about 20% of all heart attacks, according to the American Heart Association. Some experts estimate that number is even higher — closer to half.

A heart attack occurs when the arteries that carry blood to the heart become blocked, depriving the heart of oxygen and nutrients. If an individual having a heart attack feels pain or pressure, it is because of this blockage, says Eduardo Marban, M.D., executive director of the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Few people actually exhibit no symptoms. However, the signs of a heart attack can be muted or confused with other conditions. Here’s what to look out for:

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Weakness or fatigue
  3. Mild pain in the throat or chest
  4. Nausea or vomiting
  5. Pain in the back or arms, like a sprained or pulled muscle
  6. Sweating
  7. Lightheadedness or dizziness; and
  8. A general feeling of unease or discomfort

The same thing occurs in a silent heart attack. Blocked arteries make it so that oxygen-rich blood can’t reach the heart. The only difference is the problem goes undetected. “It’s not necessarily that there were no symptoms; it may just be that the patient didn’t recognize them as heart symptoms and wasn’t concerned,” Marban says. For example, it’s not uncommon for silent heart attacks to be written off as indigestion, a sprained or strained muscle, fatigue, or “just feeling run-down,” Marban says.

One way to tell if the symptoms you’re experiencing are from a heart attack or another condition is to know that the warning signs of heart trouble are “not positional.” This means that the sprain-like pain in your arm won’t get better if you stretch. Shortness of breath or sweating also won’t subside if you take it easy and lie down.

The risks factors for silent heart attacks are the same as those for a heart attack with symptoms, and these are the most common:

  • Diabetes
  • Age (for men, 45 and older; for women, 55 and older)
  • Excess weight
  • Lack of exercise
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Prior heart attack
  • Tobacco use; and
  • A family history of heart disease.

Many people who have had a silent heart attack find out about it after the fact. The symptoms that arise afterward can also bring patients in to see a doctor.

“Once the diagnosis is made, either of a recognized heart attack or a silent heart attack, everything is put into a higher risk category in terms of the complications that can ensue,” Marban says. “So, it’s not something that we should just consider a curiosity and do nothing about. … Detecting a heart attack and acknowledging it is the first step towards putting the patient back on the kind of effective therapy that we know is helpful.”

Reference: AARP (Aug. 4, 2021) “8 Warning Signs of a ‘Silent’ Heart Attack That Are Easy to Overlook”

 

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How Did Hayley Mills Lose Her Fortune?

Hayley Mills was just a teen when she starred in perhaps her biggest role— a dual part in which she played rival identical twins Susan and Sharon in the 1961 classic The Parent Trap.

The Wealth Advisor’s recent article entitled “How Former Child Star Hayley Mills Lost Her $17 Million Disney Movie Fortune” said that Mills worked so hard as a child by the time she was 21, she’d starred in over a dozen films, including Tiger Bay (1959), Whistle Down the Wind (1961), In Search of the Castaways (1962), Summer Magic (1963), The Trouble With Angels (1966) and The Moon-Spinners (1964).

However, now, in her new book, Forever Young, Hayley Mills reveals that a trust was set up for her to access at age 21 — and what happened to leave her destitute. She says that when she went to claim her Disney fortune, she was shocked to find that it had been taxed by the British government at a rate of 91%.

She wrote that her lawyer Stanley Passmore broke the unpleasant news. “Well, my dear, basically, the Revenue have attacked your trust company,” he explained. “They’re going to tax you at the full rate: 91 percent of the entire trust.”

She remembers the feeling of dread that followed. “I felt the blood drain from my face,” she wrote in Forever Young. “Nothing you can do, really,” Passmore told her. “You could contest it but if I were you, I’d leave the country!”

Mills claims that Passmore told her she should have “repudiated” the trust before turning 21 and said it was too late to do anything about it. Rather than sue her father or her lawyer over the bad advice on her paychecks, she filed repeated tax appeals. In 1972, she briefly won a ruling stating that she’d already paid taxes on her money.

“My tax case went up before the Master of the Rolls, Lord Denning,” Mills wrote. “Pointing out that I’d already paid tax on my earnings and shouldn’t have to pay a surtax, he ruled that the money belonged to me.”

Nonetheless, she wasn’t able to hold onto her $17 million in earnings. The House of Lords appealed the ruling two years later. “The state had plundered my trust like a horde of pirates,” wrote the star. “The Disney money was all gone.”

She did manage to act after Disney, starring in The Family Way (1966), Pretty Polly (1967) and others, leading up to several Parent Trap sequels in the 1980s.

In a September 2021 interview with the Los Angeles Times, she compared the loss of her Disney fortune to a dream. “I never saw it,” she told the newspaper. “I knew it was there, and one day I would have it, but it was just sort of a dream, and then one day the dream was gone.”

Reference: The Wealth Advisor (September 10, 2021) “How Former Child Star Hayley Mills Lost Her $17 Million Disney Movie Fortune”

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What are Digital Assets in an Estate?

Planning for what would happen to our intangible, digital assets in the event of incapacity or death is now as important as planning for traditional assets, like real property, IRAs, and investment accounts. How to accomplish estate planning for digital assets is explained in the article, aptly named, “Estate planning for your digital assets” from the Baltimore Business Journal.

Digital asset is the term used to describe all electronically stored information and online accounts. Some digital assets have monetary value, like cryptocurrency and accounts with gaming or gambling winnings, and some may be transferrable to heirs. These include bank accounts, domains, event tickets, airline miles, etc.

Ownership issues are part of the confusion about digital assets. Your social media accounts, family photos, emails and even business records, may be on platforms where the content itself is considered to belong to you, but the platform strictly controls access and may not permit anyone but the original owner to gain control.

Until recently, there was little legal guidance in managing a person digital files and accounts in the event of incapacity and death. Accessing accounts, managing contents and understanding the owner, user and licensing agreements have become complex issues.

In 2014, the Uniform Law Commission proposed the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) to provide fiduciaries with some clarity and direction. The law, which was revised in 2015 and is now referred to as RUFADAA (Revised UFADAA) was created as a guideline for states and almost every state has adopted these laws, providing estate planning attorneys with the legal guidelines to help create a digital estate plan.

A digital estate plan starts with considering how many digital accounts you actually own—everything from online banking, music files, books, businesses, emails, apps, utility and bill payment programs. What would happen if you were incapacitated? Would a trusted person have the credentials and technical knowledge to access and manage your digital accounts? What would you want them to do with them? In case of your demise, who would you want to have ownership or access to your digital assets?

Once you have created a comprehensive list of all of your assets—digital and otherwise—an estate planning attorney will be able to update your estate planning documents to include your digital assets. You may need only a will, or you may need any of the many planning tools and strategies available, depending upon the type, location and value of your assets.

Not having a digital asset estate plan leaves your estate vulnerable to many problems, including costs. Identity theft against deceased people is rampant, once their death is noted online. The ability to pay bills to keep a household running may take hours of detective work on your surviving spouse’s part. If your executor doesn’t know about accounts with automatic payments, your estate could give up hundreds or thousands in charges without anyone’s knowledge.

There are more complex digital assets, including cryptocurrency and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) with values from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars. The rules on the valuation, sale and transfers of these assets are as yet largely undefined. There are also many reports of people who lose large sums because of a lack of planning for these assets.

Speak with your estate planning attorney about your state’s laws concerning digital assets and protect them with an estate plan that includes this new asset class.

Reference: Baltimore Business Journal (Sep. 16, 2021) “Estate planning for your digital assets”

 

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Death of Entertainer’s Brother, John R. Nelson may have Impact on Estate

John R. Nelson, Prince’s oldest brother and one of his heirs, died, his sister announced on Twitter, according to The Star Tribune’s recent article entitled “John R. Nelson, Prince’s oldest brother and one of his heirs, has died, his sister announced on Twitter Friday” reported.

“It is with great sadness, we announce that our beloved brother Johnny R. Nelson received his heavenly wings tonight at 7:47 p.m.,” Sharon L. Nelson tweeted Friday. “Johnny’s loving personality and spirit shined brightly, and he fought hard to help preserve Prince’s legacy.”

John R. Nelson was Prince’s half-brother. He was born in 1944 to Prince’s father, John L. Nelson, and his first wife, Vivian. John’s passing leaves Sharon and their sister Norrine as the music icon’s major remaining family heirs. Prince’s half-sister Lorna Nelson died in 2006 at the age of 63.

Roughly 50% of Prince’s estate is controlled by Primary Wave, a New York music company that owns rights to thousands of popular songs from artists ranging from Ray Charles to Nirvana. The company bought 100% of the inheritance of Omarr Baker, the youngest of Prince’s six siblings, and 100% of the late Alfred Jackson’s inheritance. The company also acquired 90% of sister Tyka Nelson’s share of the estate. After Primary Wave acquired half of the estate, Norrine, Sharon, and John were left as Prince’s remaining family heirs. That number has now been reduced to two following John R. Nelson ‘s death on September 4th.

In the five years since Prince died of a fentanyl overdose without a will or direct descendants, his estate has been embroiled in legal disputes. Most recently, the IRS and the estate’s administrator, Comerica Bank & Trust, have fought over its value. Comerica says it’s worth $82.3 million—about half of what the IRS says it’s worth. In June, the IRS and Comerica reached a partial settlement, agreeing on the value of the musician’s real estate as $17.7 million. However, the value of Prince’s music and royalties, an issue that may wind up being decided in court, is still unresolved.

Since Prince died without a last will or direct descendant, it resulted in a number of legal disputes over his estate. In May 2017, a Minnesota judge ruled that his sister and five half-siblings were the rightful heirs to the estate. Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, and his half-siblings, Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson, John R. Nelson , Omarr Baker, and Alfred Jackson, were listed as the estate’s heirs, while Brianna Nelson and Victoria Nelson, who claimed to be his niece and grandniece, were rejected.

Reference: Star Tribune (Sep. 4, 2021) “John R. Nelson, Prince’s oldest brother and one of his heirs, has died, his sister announced on Twitter Friday.”

 

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Mega IRA s Could Be a Source for New Public Policies

There are few specifics but owners of Mega IRA accounts worth more than $5 million might be presented with new withdrawal requirements, if legislation for a new national safety net becomes law. For a very small slice of the American population, IRAs have become million and even billion dollar tax deferred accounts, according to a recent article from CNBC titled “Democrats may change the rules for ‘mega’ IRAs over $5 million.”

There are roughly two dozen tax categories being considered by Congress to help raise money for the expansion of the nation’s safety net, which for now is anticipated to have a $3.5 trillion price tag.

The policy concept was spotted on a draft of ideas lawmakers assemble before formally pitching the ideas before their colleagues. Floating game-changing ideas to gauge response is part of today’s legislative process.

The list didn’t include a specific amount but suggests a limit of $5 million. It also included information regarding the number of mega IRA accounts. Apparently, the number of IRA accounts worth more than $5 million has tripled in the past ten years.

In contrast, the average American’s IRA is valued around $39,000.

The idea is part of a broader theme of raising revenue from the wealthy to pay for social needs, like education, address climate change, assist working families with paid leave, childcare and other basic human needs.

It may have been sparked by a recent report that one of the founders of PayPal owns a Roth IRA valued at $5 billion. IRAs were created as a means of encouraging working Americans to save for retirement. However, they have become huge tax shelters for the wealthy.

More than 28,600 taxpayers owned IRAs worth more than $5 million in 2019, but they account for less than a tenth of 1% of the 70 million Americans who have a traditional or Roth IRA. The mega accounts add up to $280 billion, or about 3% of the total $8.6 trillion owed in IRAs.

Limiting the size of tax-deferred retirement accounts isn’t new. Several attempts have been made to cap the amount in IRAs or change distribution rules.

The final legislation may not be known for some time, but one response to this proposal would be to convert traditional IRAs to a Roth. Paying taxes at the time of the conversion, even if done over time, could be useful to eliminate having to pay taxes on the funds, if withdrawal rules change. In addition, there are no Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) on Roth IRAs, so funds can grow tax free for the life of the owner.

Reference: CNBC (Sep. 8, 2021) “Democrats may change the rules for ‘mega’ IRAs over $5 million”

 

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Actress Who Played Lieutenant Uhura Is Subject of a Conservatorship Battle

Actress Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura on “Star Trek,” is in the middle of been a long conservatorship fight. Her son, her former manager and a good friend appear to be waging a fight to oversee the finances of the aging actress.

Nichols is suffering from dementia.

Wealth Advisor’s recent article entitled “Star Trek Actress In Conservatorship Battle” says that the actress’ only child, Kyle Johnson, won a petition for conservatorship in 2018. Johnson alleged that her former manager, Gilbert Bell, had been living in Nichols’ guest home taking advantage of her finances and personal affairs.

A third party is involved in the case, a close friend whom Nichols named as her successor, Angelique Fawcette, says that Nichols doesn’t need the conservatorship and that she can manage her affairs.

The 88-year-old no longer lives in Los Angeles, where the case is being heard and where the actual home in question is located. Nichols moved to New Mexico with her son and his wife during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nichols was one of the first Black women on TV to play a non-stereotypical role. Lt. Uhura was beautiful, well-spoken and a knowledgeable communications officer on “Star Trek.”

Nichols appeared in a number of feature films and voiced an animated show.

Her character, Lieutenant Uhura, was beloved by Star Trek fans. For many years, she attended conventions greeting admirers. She booked these events with the support of Bell, who helped grow her income.

However, in 2013, after a pancreatitis diagnosis due to heavy alcohol use, she was admitted to a hospital.

Nichols subsequently moved to a nursing facility, where she signed an advance health care directive and a general power of attorney naming Bell as her primary agent and Fawcette as her successor.

Fawcette said that Johnson and Nichols’ other family members rarely visit her.

Johnson, Bell and Fawcette may ultimately be in court to determine Nichol’s fate. However, for now, the pioneering actress remains in New Mexico with her family, where her son says she lives in a rental home. He is her primary caregiver.

Reference: Wealth Advisor (Aug. 17, 2021) “Star Trek Actress In Conservatorship Battle”

 

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What are Signs of Identity Theft?

Identity thieves are searching for ways to use your personal information, charge purchases in your name, steal your medical account information and get your tax refunds.

Money Talks News’ recent article entitled “Beware These 8 Signs of Identity Theft” reports that consumers filed more than 1.4 million identity theft reports with the Federal Trade Commission in 2020—twice as many as in 2019. You should watch out by knowing these warning signs identified by the FTC.

  1. You see changes in your credit report. When you check your credit, look through the report for anything out of place, such as charges and accounts that you don’t recognize. This can be proof that an identity thief has accessed your credit accounts or opened new accounts in your name. Check your credit report regularly. It’s easy to do online. You’re entitled by federal law to one free report every 12 months from each of the three major credit-reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). In the pandemic, you can get a free report every week.
  2. A merchant declines your check. If you balance your checkbook and pay bills on time each month, you may be surprised if a merchant refuses a personal check. However, it may signal that a thief has been using your bank account or opened an associated account in your name.
  3. You see unexplained charges. Look through your bank and credit card account statements for unusual charges for withdrawals you don’t recognize and can’t explain. If you’re a victim of identity theft, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at IdentityTheft.gov. You can also contact the three major credit bureaus to request a credit freeze. This prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. You can now place and lift a credit freeze for free.
  4. You get no mail. A thief may be intercepting your mail, if your bills or other correspondence don’t come as expected.
  5. You receive calls from debt collectors. If you’re diligent in paying your bills, and you get a call from a debt collector, it could be about debts that were incurred by someone else in your name.
  6. Your health insurer rejects a claim. Your insurer’s records could show that you’ve reached the limit of your benefits. This can occur if thieves target your medical account and take advantage of all the benefits, so you can’t make a legitimate claim. Don’t click on unfamiliar or potentially suspicious links.
  7. You get an unexplained medical bill. You may get a bill from a doctor for services you didn’t use. If so, be suspicious because a thief may have accessed your health insurance information and used it to receive medical care, sticking you with the bill.
  8. You see suspicious changes in your medical records. Another tip-off that you’ve become a victim of fraud is if your medical records include a health condition that you don’t have. This could damage your ability to get the care that you need.

Act quickly if identity theft occurs and report it.

Reference: Money Talks News (Aug. 10, 2021) “Beware These 8 Signs of Identity Theft”

 

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What Is Science Doing About Hearing Loss ?

Hearing Loss – Thanks to advances in technology and medicine like artificial intelligence and gene therapy, hearing research is producing significant innovations. AARP’s recent article entitled “Three Game-Changing Innovations for Those With Hearing Loss” looks at a couple of them, in various stages of development.

  1. Eyeglasses That Turn Speech into Subtitles. With these, you’ll be able to read what people are saying. An app on your smartphone would listen to a conversation and transcribe the speech into sentences in real time. The text would be sent instantaneously to your enhanced eyeglasses, which would create subtitles. Vuzix, a tech company, recently released smart glasses that work with transcription software. Automatic speech-to-text programs have proliferated in recent years, and live computer-generated captions are now available on most videoconferencing platforms. Smartphone apps can also generate real-time transcriptions for in-person conversations. However, the issue is that users have to be in front of a PC or looking at a phone, which detracts from full social engagement. However, companies are making subtitles more natural, by using “smart glasses” technology, which can project text to a user’s field of vision in a comfortable, nonintrusive way. We may see this in a few years.
  2. An App That Lets You Hear Someone in a Crowded Room. This technology can isolate a person’s speech in a noisy environment, which would solve what scientists call the “cocktail party problem.” An app would “listen” to the soundscape surrounding you and separate out different streams of sound, including voices, ambient music and other background noise. It would then isolate the sound you want to hear based on the direction you’re facing — and reduce everything else. The cleaned-up sound would then be delivered straight to your ear through your hearing aid, cochlear implant, or earbuds. Powerful de-noising programs look to be available on hearing technology within five years.
  3. Drug Therapy That Regrows Cells That Help Your Hearing. Your body would repair damage to your inner ear — like when a salamander regrows his tail. A drug delivered into your inner ear would turn on chemical switches to regrow the cells responsible for hearing and most hearing loss. Those born with hearing loss or those who lose hearing later in life would get injections to restore some or all of their hearing. This hair cell regeneration would be ideal for anyone who’s lost hearing because of missing or damaged hair cells. However, this isn’t anticipated to be available very soon. Some hair cell regrowth therapies using different methods are currently in human clinical trials. There are trials being conducted at Novartis, Eli Lilly, Frequency Therapeutics, and Pipeline Therapeutics. However, most of this work is still being tested in the lab.

Reference: AARP (August 2, 2021) “Three Game-Changing Innovations for Those With Hearing Loss”

 

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Who Inherited from the Painter Bob Ross ?

Like many painters before him, Bob Ross ‘s image only took hold after his untimely death. He’s now a pop culture icon, and is featured as bobbleheads, Chia pets and has his own cereal.

However, there’s a reason why we see so much more of the gentle painter than ever before. That’s because of a legal battle for ownership of Ross’s name. That was the only item of value in his estate, which is rare for celebrities of his caliber.

Wealth Advisor’s recent article entitled “Here’s Who Inherited Bob Ross’ Estate, And Where They Are Now” reports about what happened to his estate, who controls it and where they are today.

The Daily Beast wrote that Ross is “a smash hit on social media, where he feels more like a Gen-Z influencer than a once semi-obscure PBS celebrity who rose to fame in the 1980s on the back of his bouffant hairdo, hypnotic singsong baritone and a timeless message about the beauty of the world around us.”

However, he wouldn’t have become a household name, if not for Bob Ross Inc. The battle began when the artist met Bill Alexander, a celebrity painter who had a show on PBS, in 1978. Alexander gave him a job as a traveling art instructor. Ross met Annette and Walt Kowalski at a class, who recently lost their son, and who wanted to learn how to paint.

The Kowalskis convinced him to come to Washington, D.C. to teach. They eventually made a deal: they’d give him a stipend and room and board, if he’d teach more classes that they’d arrange in the area. PBS then asked Ross to do a show like Alexander’s, and Dennis Kapp, the owner and CEO of the art-supply company Martin F. Weber, wanted to develop a line of supplies with him too. Soon, The Joy of Painting was born. However, to look after the supply company with Kapp, Ross and his wife Jane, and Annette and Walt signed documents to create Bob Ross Inc., with all four of them being equal partners.

At the end of the 1980s, all four partners were making $85,000, and in the early ’90s, Ross made around $120,000. However, he wanted to branch out, and when he did, the happy days were at an end. When Ross’s health started to decline, Walt “declared war” and sent Ross documents saying the Kowalskis owned everything, but they’d agreed that Ross and his heirs would get 1% of the revenues for the next decade. Ross never signed anything, and in fact, he quickly changed his last will to make it harder for the Kowalskis to steal his name and likeness.

Those changes to his last will included “a clause specifically addressing his name, likeness and the rest of his intellectual property. All of those rights were to go to Steve and one of Bob’s half-brothers.” His third wife replaced Annette as the administrator of his estate. In July 1995, the painter lost his battle to cancer.

When Ross died, Bob Ross Inc. was totally owned by the Kowalskis. However, they wanted it all, including his name and likeness. Then what one of Ross’s good friends calls “Grand Theft Bob” began.

Steve did not know about the final amendment until 20 years later when his uncle Jimmie, the estate’s executor, informed him. When Ross died, he was worth $1.3 million. Half of that was his third part of Bob Ross Inc., and there was also cash, stocks and property to divide.

The Kowalskis went after Ross’s art supplies and artwork and made “claims against the estate for business and personal reimbursements,” charging Ross’s widow with hefty lawsuits and suing PBS and the children’s show Ross guest-starred on. In 1997, Jimmie, Ross’s brother, settled the lawsuit, practically handing over everything to the Kowalskis. In 2012, their daughter Joan took over, opening up the realm of merchandising for the company.

However, there was still a “grey zone” in how Bob Ross Inc. could truly own Ross’s name and likeness. After learning about that amendment in Ross’s will, Steve went after Bob Ross Inc. but didn’t win his case against Bob Ross Inc.

Joan did strike a deal with him: if he surrendered his rights to Ross’s name and likeness, he could print his name on anything he wanted.

The good news was that Steve was able to return as an art instructor, and thanks to Bob Ross Inc., Ross was bigger than ever. That helped class sizes, and students came in masses to learn the iconic style. Steve gets to run his father’s estate, and fans welcomed him back to the painting world. Despite the fact that the Kowalskis got everything, they were the only ones who could have kept Ross’s name from disappearing.

As for all of Ross’s paintings the Kowalskis seized, they ended up in an unprotected warehouse until the Smithsonian took a collection of them.

Reference: Wealth Advisor (June 28, 2021) “Here’s Who Inherited Bob Ross’ Estate, And Where They Are Now”

 

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