When an estate winds up in court, the dispute may involve more than just legal issues. In a case recently decided by the California Court of Appeal, the justices had to consider how “family” has been defined in different cultures, thousands of miles apart and over the span of more than a century.

Legal principles can be complicated, but not always. For example, here’s one that’s pretty straightforward: if you are going to ask a court to protect your rights, you’d better have some rights to protect.

Michael Jackson died ten years ago, but his music lives on – as does the controversy that so often surrounded him. Both were central to a lawsuit which claimed that three songs on a posthumously released Jackson album were not actually performed by him, thus deceiving consumers.

If you are the beneficiary of a trust and feel the trustee is not doing a good job, you have the right to seek help from the court. But if your complaints are unreasonable, or made in bad faith, don’t be surprised if a judge makes you pay a penalty for your fit of pique.

Bruce Willis has starred in more than 60 films, ranging from Moonlighting and the Die Hard series to Pulp Fiction and Looper. But few had more plot twists and cliffhanger moments than a movie in which he was supposed to star, but that quickly moved from a sound stage to a courtroom.

It’s not surprising that, after a bitter divorce, one of the former spouses would want to exclude the other from a will or estate. But wanting something doesn’t make it so – especially when it comes to a life insurance policy.