The sudden death of Lisa Marie Presley on 12 Jan. sent shockwaves throughout the world and left her immediate family devastated. Lisa Marie, the only child of rock-and-roll icon Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley, was in the spotlight with her family for the latter half of 2022 due to the widespread acclaim of Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis," starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks. On all fronts, Lisa Marie's family, including her mother and eldest daughter Riley Keough, appeared to be as close-knit as ever, but following her death in January 2023, reports of tension between the two over Lisa Marie's trust complicated her legacy.
Following Lisa Marie's death, Priscilla and Riley were entangled in a legal battle over who should and shouldn't be a trustee of her remaining estate, aka Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE). "They do not see eye to eye," a family insider told People in March. Legal reps for Priscilla and Riley did not respond to POPSUGAR's requests for comment on the source's claims at the time.
Fortunately, though, the family was able to reach a settlement in May, which was made public in June. According to The New York Times, Riley was asked to pay a lump-sum payment of a million dollars to Priscilla, in addition to covering Priscilla's legal fees. With the settlement, Riley will become the sole arbiter of Lisa Marie's trust.
Priscilla has also been taking steps to clarify that there was never an actual feud. "My daughter's passing was both devastating and heartbreaking," she wrote in a 15 June declaration obtained by People. "We have learned that the fans realise that we are 'Just a Family.' Elvis would be proud and his and Lisa's wishes are what are most important to all of us." Priscilla also wrote that her efforts to become a trustee after Lisa Marie's death had been "misconstrued" as a fight. Legal reps for Priscilla and Riley did not immediately respond to POPSUGAR's request for comment about the settlement and declaration.
Read on for a complete breakdown of everything that ensued during Priscilla and Riley's legal disagreement and how a settlement was reached.
16 Aug., 1977: Elvis dies at age 42. Elvis was found unconscious in his Graceland home, as reported by History.com. The King of Rock and Roll was transported to the hospital, where he later was pronounced dead. According to the doctors who treated him, Elvis died of a heart attack, likely a result of his barbiturate misuse. Upon his death, Elvis's father, Vernon Presley, inherited his estate, with Lisa Marie (then 9 years old) being the heir to the inheritance.
1979: Lisa Marie inherits Elvis's estate; Priscilla is coexecutor. After Vernon died in 1979, Lisa Marie inherited the estate, but being only an 11-year-old child at the time, she couldn't manage the assets. Per People, Vernon named Priscilla as a coexecutor of the estate, along with Joseph Hanks, the Presley's longtime accountant, and the National Bank of Commerce in Memphis. The three would have control over the estate until Lisa Marie turned 25, at which time she would become the sole beneficiary. At the time of Vernon's death, the Graceland estate was costing more than it was bringing in and was only worth a mere $1 million. By 1982, however, Priscilla opened up Graceland as a tourist attraction, which raised its value to $75 million and brought in an estimated $15 million a year by 1989, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
1993: Lisa Marie forms the Promenade Trust when she turns 25. In 1993, Lisa Marie formed the Promenade Trust, which established her as the beneficiary of Elvis Presley Enterprises, with Priscilla and Barry Siegel, the Presley family's business manager, named as trustees, according to The New York Times. "Everything remains the same, except I'm on the management team now," Lisa Marie told People in 1993. Despite being in the green, the assets of EPE would significantly dwindle over the next 10 years. By 2005, Lisa Marie and Siegel sold 85 percent of EPE to Robert F.X. Sillerman, founder of SFX Entertainment. The deal paid out $53 million in cash and additionally provided Lisa Marie with $25 million in debt relief and an approximate $20 million share in CKX Inc., per the LA Times. This would not be the end of the financial troubles of EPE, however.
2016: Lisa Marie amends her living trust. With her oldest children, Riley and Benjamin Keough, now adults, Lisa Marie amended her living trust in 2016 and named the two as co-trustees of the trust in the event of her death, according to The New York Times. In doing this, Lisa Marie removed her mother and Siegel as trustees. Benjamin later died by suicide in 2020, which left Riley as the sole beneficiary of the trust after Lisa Marie.
2018: Lisa Marie sues business manager Barry Siegel. Robert Sillerman sold his share of EPE to Authentic Brands Group in 2013, and by 2015, CKX Inc. declared bankruptcy, which meant Lisa Marie's stock (worth millions) was gone. In addition to the loss of her stock, the near $50 million she received in the deal with Sillerman was nearly depleted. According to The New York Times, the loss of funds was in part attributed to Lisa Marie's spending, which included the purchase of a home in England worth $9 million. By 2015, the trust had just $14,000 in cash and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, which ultimately led Lisa Marie to sue Siegel for mismanagement of funds in 2018. The lawsuit claimed Siegel "cost her through reckless mismanagement," while Siegel countered and claimed that Lisa Marie "twice squandered" her fortune as a result of her excessive spending habits (via People). The two later settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
12 Jan., 2023: Lisa Marie dies at age 54. Two days after she attended the Golden Globes in honor of the many "Elvis" nominations, Lisa Marie suffered a cardiac arrest and later died at West Hills Hospital in LA.
26 Jan., 2023: Priscilla challenges Lisa Marie's trust amendment. Just two weeks after Lisa Marie's death, Priscilla formally challenged the "authenticity and validity" of her 2016 trust amendment by filing a petition with the LA Superior Court, as reported by The New York Times. In the filing, Priscilla's lawyers argued that the amendment was not valid, as she was not notified of the change while Lisa Marie was still alive, and also claimed that the amendment was potentially fraudulent due to apparent inconsistencies in Lisa Marie's signature. In the case that the filing is voided, both Priscilla and Riley will be co-trustees of the estate.
Despite growing attention to the matter, each side fought to handle it privately. In a February statement to People, Priscilla shut down the feud claims and said, "Please ignore 'the noise.' As I have always been there for Elvis' legacy, our family and the fans, I will continue to forge a pathway forward with respect, honesty, dignity, integrity and love." Meanwhile, an insider close to Riley told the outlet, "It's a very sad situation. Riley is shocked Priscilla is contesting the amendment."
March 2023: Sources report that tensions are high between Riley and Priscilla. On 8 March, People reported that multiple sources had informed them that Riley and Priscilla were speaking very little. "They do not see eye to eye," a source told the outlet.
Then, on 21 March, Entertainment Tonight reported that a source told the publication that "the family drama is the last thing Riley wants to be dealing with" and that she's "deeply upset at how things are unfolding." POPSUGAR reached out to Priscilla and Riley's attorneys but did not receive a response about the ET insider's claims at the time. The ET source also added that "she hopes to still be a huge part" of her sisters', Harper and Finley's, lives. This may be the case now that Lisa Marie's estate dispute has been resolved.
16 May, 2023: A settlement is reached in the dispute over Lisa Marie's will. Though exact terms were not disclosed to the public at the time, the Los Angeles Times reported that legal counsel for Priscilla and Riley told an LA judge that the matter of Lisa Marie's will had been settled. Priscilla's lawyer Ronson J. Shamoun, also an attorney for the Promenade Trust, said, "Everyone is happy," and that the family is "unified and happy for the future." Meanwhile, according to People, Riley's attorney, Justin Gold, said, "She would not have agreed to the settlement if she was not happy with it." Per the outlet, Riley's side is set to submit a settlement request under seal for the Promenade and an insurance trust, with the next hearing and motion for approval scheduled for 4 Aug.
13 June, 2023: Priscilla Presley praises the settlement agreement. Per The New York Times, Riley paid Priscilla $1 million in addition to up to $400,000 for legal fees, and while Riley will now be in possession of the entire trust, Priscilla will remain a "special adviser" and will receive an annual payment.
Shortly after the settlement agreement was made public, Presley also filed a declaration in support of it. "Elvis would be proud and his and Lisa's wishes are what are most important to all of us," she wrote, per People. "My granddaughter, through her counsel, along with my team worked diligently and tirelessly to resolve all misunderstandings as a family." She also criticised rumours of a feud, saying her conflict with Riley was "misconstrued" as "a 'fight' over my beloved daughter's trust." She added that she had fired the law firm that filed her initial January 2023 petition in order to "resolve all potential uncertainty."