Readers in Houston probably know that nearly 50 years after his death in a plane crash in 1964, country music singer Jim Reeves’ songs and recordings continue to sell well. His albums and other intellectual properties, once valued in the millions, earn about $400,000 per year in sales to fans around the world. Income from those sales went to her widow, who died in 1999.

More than 12 years after her death, the question of who should inherit the rights to Reeves’ recordings will finally be determined in probate court. Reeves’ widow, who managed the business affairs of Reeves’ estate, remarried after his death, and her second husband is fighting the provisions of her will that granted him a lump sum of $100,000 and some other property, but not the rights to the intellectual property. On the other side of the dispute are Reeves’ niece and nephew, who want the widow’s will to be executed as written.

It is not clear how much Reeves’ intellectual property is worth. One of the parties filed a professional evaluation of the estate with the court, but the valuation remains under seal. Around 2001, a buyer came forward and offered $7 million for the property, so it is likely to be worth even more now.

The husband’s behavior in the case has been somewhat erratic and contributed to its long delays. According to the judge overseeing the dispute, the husband has gone through six attorneys, and fired his most recent lawyer on Jan. 21, just days before the case was scheduled to go to trial. The judge rebuked the husband in his denial of a motion and called him “the architect of [his] own disaster.”

Source: The Tennessean, “Jim Reeves legacy at stake in court case,” Anita Wadhwani, Jan. 24, 2012