Legal and Management

Tom Petty's Widow and Daughters Locked in Legal Battle Over Trust

Tom Petty photographed in New York in 1977.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Tom Petty photographed in New York in 1977.

The management of the late rocker's lucrative estate has turned contentious.

Dana Petty, the widow of late rocker Tom Petty, is locked in a legal battle with the singer's daughters, Adria Petty and Annakim Violette (formerly Petty), according to court documents filed Tuesday (April 2). 

In a petition filed in Los Angeles County court, Dana Petty alleges that the musicians' two adult daughters from a previous relationship are attempting to thwart her role as trustee by making it nearly impossible to manage the singer's estate. Dana is requesting the court establish an operating agreement that would appoint a manager to exercise authority over any "significant decisions" made regarding Petty's assets. She further asks that all such decisions require consensus between the three women so as to prevent Adria and Annakim from overriding her.   

Also in the petition, Dana accuses Adria in particular of abusive behavior not only towards her but Petty's managers, record labels and former bandmates. She states that Adria's "erratic behavior" held up the release of a posthumous Greatest Hits album and has prevented the release of a 25th anniversary reissue of Petty's 1994 solo LP Wildflowers. In the case of the latter, Dana claims that Adria unfairly intervened in a deal with Warner Bros. Records and rejected an offer valued at $1 million. She states the re-release would have included previously-unreleased music. 

Meanwhile, Adria filed her own petition alleging that Dana -- who was named "directing trustee" of the trust following Petty's death in October 2017 -- has herself conspired to push Adria and Annakim out of decisions involving her father's estate by failing to distribute Petty's "artistic properties" into a limited-liability company (LLC) established in Petty's will. 

That LLC, which would have allocated one-third of the artistic properties to Dana and two-thirds to Adria and Annakim, was established in March 2018, but Adria claims Dana has not yet "funded" it with assets from the trust. Adria accuses Dana of intentionally withholding funding from the LLC to keep she and Annakim from "participat[ing] equally in the management" of her father's assets, as laid out in Petty's will.

Adria is petitioning the court to order immediate funding of the LLC, thereby allowing she and Annakim to have a say in the management of Petty's artistic property. The petition notes that, while Petty's will allowed Dana a six-month grace period before funding the LLC to allow time for the disbursal of funeral expenses and the payment of any potential claims against the trust, it has now been more than 16 months since Petty's death. In the interim, Adria alleges, she and Annakim have been left out of "marketing, promotional, and artistic considerations" around Petty's posthumous album releases, which include the 2018 An American Treasure box set and the 2019 greatest-hits album The Best of Everything.

Petty died on October 2, 2017, of an accidental drug overdose. He was 66 years old.