Lessons from Country Star Charley Pride’s Disputed Will

McNair Dallas Law

Charley Pride disputed will

There’s a battle brewing over the estate of Grammy-winning country star Charley Pride, fueled by a son few knew existed.

Grammy-winning country star Charley Pride died from COVID-19 in December, 2020, but his youngest son is challenging his disputed will.  An article from 5 NBC DFW entitled “Charley Pride’s ‘Secret’ Son Contests Will” reports that his son Tyler has revealed the family “secret.” His story begins with an affair between his mother who worked as a flight attendant, and his father, country music’s first Black superstar.

At the time of Tyler Pride’s birth, Charley was already married to his wife of many years, Rozene, and the couple had three children. A paternity test later confirmed that Tyler was Charley’s youngest son.

“We made it through and had the best relationship that we could, per the circumstances,” said Tyler. “We still got to talk on the phone a lot and get to know each other that way, but it was difficult because of his situation and having to keep peace at home, as he put it over and over.”

Tyler said his father visited when he was able, and even after he turned 18 and Charley’s obligation to financially support him ended, Tyler said his father stayed involved in his life. However, when Charley died of COVID-19, Tyler said the family did not even tell him that his father was sick. In fact, Tyler’s name was not included in the obituary, and he said he was not allowed to attend the funeral.

Tyler also wasn’t named in Charley’s will, which Tyler has filed a lawsuit to contest. He says there was undue influence by Rozene over her husband when drafting the disputed will.

“I don’t think he could imagine that this is going on right now and I don’t think it’s what he wanted. Because he always said he wanted his kids taken care of equally. Up until his death, that’s what I was told every time we talked,” said Tyler.

Rozene’s statement said, “Tyler does not have a valid claim, so he has resorted to a hurtful smear campaign. His attack on Charley hurts me and his other children deeply, but we all know that Charley was doing great physically and mentally and making his own decisions, until he was taken down by COVID. Much of what Tyler is saying about Charley and me is a lie that Tyler hopes reporters will spread to grab headlines.”

However, Tyler says this isn’t a financial fight. It’s about more than a disputed will, it’s instead about honoring his father’s wishes and finally being recognized as his son.

“He is my dad and I’m proud to be able to tell that part of the story because I am part of his story,” said Tyler.

We can learn two important lessons from this case.

  1. Family “secrets” rarely remain hidden.
  2. A will-based estate plan is not private.  The public will have access to information about assets, debts, heirs, and other details.  If you want to keep your estate plan private, a trust-based plan is a better choice.

Talk with an experienced Estate Planning attorney to learn more.

Reference: 5 NBC DFW (June 11, 2021) “Charley Pride’s ‘Secret’ Son Contests Will”

Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

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