B.B. King's longtime business manager was named sole executor of his estate Thursday, despite objections from a lawyer for four of the late blues icon's daughters.
Clark County District Judge Gloria Sturman first refused to let prominent national attorneys Benjamin Crump and Jose Baez contest King's will on behalf of daughters Karen Williams, Patty King, Rita Washington and Barbara Winfree.
The will, filed in January 2007, puts LaVerne Toney alone in charge of administering King's assets, his property and his trust. The trust documents have not been filed publicly.
The judge then rejected efforts by Las Vegas attorney Larissa Drohobyczer to cast Toney as having misused her power of attorney while B.B. King was alive to move about $1 million from personal to joint bank accounts to which she had access, and to block relatives from visiting King in his dying days.
"A million dollars is a big deal," Sturman said. But she left the argument for another day.
"I'm not saying there may not be other issues, or that we may not need outside assistance," she said. "But he had a plan. I don't see anything before me at this point in time that he wanted that changed."
Attorney Brent Bryson, lawyer for the estate and Toney, said claims by the daughters that Toney stole from their father, isolated him and poisoned him before his May 14 death at age 89 have no basis in fact.
The family members have provided no evidence that a competing will exists, he said.
"There has to be more to the objections than hollow allegations and innuendo," Bryson said.
Sturman said several times she admired that B.B. King continued to play hundreds of concerts a year until October, when he collapsed during a concert in Chicago.
"He worked his entire life to provide for his family," the judge told the daughters as she named Toney as executor. "The thing he left for you is his amazing body of work. Somebody has got to make sure that his legacy is protected."
King has 11 surviving adult children, and family members count 35 grandchildren.
The will was filed May 20 under King's birth name, Riley B. King. It leaves everything to the estate and Toney, who managed King's road show business for 39 years. It lists one daughter, Riletta Mitchell, as second to Toney as executor, but Mitchell died in September.
Her son, Eric Mitchell II, was represented in court Thursday by Las Vegas attorney Bradley Richardson, who asked the judge to protect King's intellectual property and royalty rights for his heirs.
"It's far past time to pull this out of the public eye," Mitchell said by telephone from Chicago. "The concern is that my grandfather was a private person and wouldn't have wanted this. It's time for the wild accusations to stop."
Bryson and Toney declined outside court to estimate the value of King's estate. Drohobyczer said last week she thinks the estate is worth between $5 million and $10 million.
Crump and Baez said Thursday they'll continue investigating whether King was properly cared for before he died.