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Leonard Cohen's Son and Daughter Are Suing a Lawyer They Say Took Control of Late Singer's Fortune Through Nefarious Means "Leonard Cohen's lawyers and manager forged his trust so they could fleece the estate of millions of dollars and steal the Hall of Famer's legacy from his own children," said Adam Streisand, an attorney for Cohen's children.

By Gabrielle Bienasz

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Evening Standard / Stringer I Getty Images
Leonard Cohen in 1980.

It could be a "Bird on the Wire" — or a high-drama legal conspiracy.

An attorney for Leonard Cohen's children is claiming that Robert Kory, an attorney, swapped out a page in Cohen's 2005 trust document to appoint himself trustee of the late singer's $48 million fortune, the New York Post reported on Monday, citing court documents.

"Leonard Cohen's lawyers and manager forged his trust so they could fleece the estate of millions of dollars and steal the Hall of Famer's legacy from his own children," a lawyer for two of Cohen's children, Adam Streisand, told the outlet.

Who is Leonard Cohen?

Leonard Cohen was born in Canada in 1934 and was a prominent singer and songwriter throughout the 1960s and 1970s, writing songs like "Bird on the Wire" and "Suzanne." He also wrote "Hallelujah," which Jeff Buckley famously covered in 1994. Cohen became a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

Cohen also released a final album in October 2016, less than a month before he died, and a song on the album won a Grammy after his death.

Why are Leonard Cohen's kids fighting over his trust?

Cohen had two kids, Adam, 50, and Lorca 48, with Suzanne Elrod. Both Adam and Lorca have been in a legal battle in Los Angeles for more than a year over control of the numerous assets of Cohen's estate, particularly royalties, but also his artistic assets, such as 243 journals, the unpublished verses of the song "Hallelujah" (Cohen wrote 82 in the first draft), and royalties from other artistic works, like books and photographs, per the NYP.

The current situation has set the children up with over $400,000 in annual salaries plus an unknown amount in royalties, per the outlet.

But Adam and Lorca contend, via the cited court documents, that they both don't have enough say over the singer's legacy, and that the person who does, Robert Kory, who was socially connected to Cohen — and the lawyer the late singer chose to work on his estate — secretly inserted himself by forging a document then swapping a page to make himself as trustee of the Cohen fortune.

Streisand, who has been a lawyer for Adam and Lorca for the last two months, told the New York Post someone "swapped out" the page that gives control of the Cohen estate via a trust (and pick of the trustee) to Cohen's two kids, as well as Anjani Thomas, who was romantically involved with Cohen, "with a new page … that says Kory is designated trustee."

Streisand has been involved in a series of high-profile legal battles, with stakeholders including the Los Angeles Clippers, Marlon Brando, the founder of North Face, Douglas Tompkin, and the estate of Marilyn Monroe.

Another lawyer, however, contends that Cohen secretly asked for Kory to be designated as the trustee because he was worried the two children couldn't work well enough together to manage the fortune.

Kory has said in his legal filings that he didn't do anything wrong and that he has kept the children apprised of his work with Cohen's fortune, which has included publishing the book "A Ballet of Lepers," and an art exhibit in Canada.

This isn't the first legal and financial drama for Cohen. In a 2005 lawsuit, he said a manager stole $5 million of his retirement fund. At 73, he went back out on tour to recover his money.

Streisand did not immediately return a request for comment, nor did Kory from what appears to be his LinkedIn profile.

Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

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