Sinatra's Will Averts Family Feud

Threatens to disinherit anyone who contests it

By Marcus Errico May 22, 1998 7:00 PMTags
Like the song, Frank Sinatra did his will his way.

As expected, the document, made public Thursday, divvies up most of Sinatra's considerable estate between wife No. 4, Barbara Marx, and his three kids, Frank Jr., Nancy and Tina.

The kicker? Obviously aware of the considerable tension between his kids (all from his first marriage to Nancy Barbato) and his wife (for many years they reportedly refused to be in the same room together), the Chairman included a clause in his will that automatically disinherits anyone who contests it. That means the heirs will have to make nice if they want to collect.

Ironically, the source of the bad blood was control of the Rat Packer's estate. Of particular contention: the issue of who has dibs on merchandising Frank's name--a brand name that has adorned everything from bottled pasta sauce to Korbel champagne. In the latter years of his life, Sinatra's trademark had been fiercely controlled by Tina, but it has been given to Barbara in the will, something Sinatra probably knew would cause even more friction.

Here's the lowdown on the will: Barbara, his wife of 22 years, gets $3.5 million in assets, along with mansions in Beverly Hills and Malibu and a ranch near Palm Springs. She also receives rights to Sinatra's Trilogy recordings, most of his material possessions and control over his name and likeness. Frank Jr., Nancy and Tina get $200,000 in cash each, as well as stock. Their mother and Sinatra's first wife, Nancy Barbato, gets $250,000. Frank Jr. gets the rights to his dad's sheet music. Grandkids Angela and Amanda Lambert share $1 million in trust. Robert Marx, Barbara's son from her marriage to Zeppo Marx, gets $100,000. Sinatra's pals Elvina Joubert and Dorothy Uhlemann get $150,000 and $50,000, respectively. His best bud Jilly Rizzo was supposed to collect $100,000, but he died in 1992 and was removed from the will.

Sinatra's attorney, Harvey Silbert, discounted earlier reports that the entertainer was leaving $150 million to Barbara Sinatra's Children Center--there was no indication of such a donation in the will.

However, the bulk of Sinatra's net worth--between $200 and $600 mil--was set aside in a living trust enacted before his death. Unlike the will, which is subject to a review in probate court and is therefore a public document, the contents of the trust are confidential. It is known that the children received rights to most of their dad's lucrative music catalog.

Sinatra died May 14 at the age of 82 after suffering a heart attack.

His will was dated May 1, 1993. The first probate hearing is scheduled for June 18.