The administration of an estate is rarely a singular event; rather, it is a process that can go on for months, years or (in certain cases) even decades. When issues such as copyrighted material, trademarks and intellectual property are introduced into the estate administration process, they often are indicators of years of continued responsibilities for an estate’s personal representative. These properties will typically continue to generate income, thus consistently adding value to the estate. The question then becomes which of the estate’s beneficiaries becomes entitled to those profits. 

That is the question currently being argued by the DeLorean Motor Company and the estate of the original DeLorean’s creator. While it has been decades since DeLoreans were manufactured and sold, the company still continues to make money thanks to the iconic car’s association with the “Back to the Future” franchise. Universal Pictures came to an agreement with John DeLorean in 1989 to pay him a 5 percent net profit from all proceeds generated using the image of the car in merchandise and advertising. Those payments continued up until DeLorean’s death in 2005. They then apparently began to be made to DMC (which is actually a separate entity than the company DeLorean himself founded). Universal claims the payments were made to DMC because the company does own the rights to the DMC name and the brand’s trademarks. DeLorean’s estate is now suing DMC for the value of those payments. 

The continued administration of an estate over time can be an extremely complex process. Personal representatives are, however, bound to continue to be involved with it for as long as they are capable. Those needing assistance with this process may find it in the form of an experienced attorney. 

Source: Forbes “‘Back to the Future’ DeLorean Car Subject Of Estate Dispute With Universal, DMC” Rummel, Blake, Apr. 27, 2018