TV producer Aaron Kaplan has accused his sister-in-law of extortion over a dispute involving the trust of his late brother, Joe Kaplan.
In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Elizabeth Kaplan (née Elizabeth McAdams) said that, following the death of her husband in 2018, she discovered two cameras in a closet in her master bedroom, suggesting that Aaron Kaplan had them installed to inappropriately spy on her while she undressed or was in her underwear. But that lawsuit comes in response to a petition for instruction that Aaron Kaplan — the executor of Joe’s will and a trustee of his trust — filed in February, which lays out a list of damning accusations against Elizabeth.
Among them, Elizabeth Kaplan is accused of attempting to modify Joe Kaplan’s trust to her benefit, taking or attempting to take assets worth more than $1.5 million that do not belong to her, pocketing $10,000 in cash from Joe’s closet “in bad faith,” and threatening to extort Aaron and damage his reputation when she heard her attempts to have him resign as a trustee would not be successful.
“When Elizabeth was warned that her plan to file a petition seeking modifications to Joe’s Trust would be a contest, resulting in the forfeiture of her beneficial rights in the Trust, Elizabeth tried a new tactic to attain her objectives–extortion,” the February petition for instruction said. “She hired a new attorney who threatened the Trustee with a lawsuit that he warned would be damaging to the Trustee’s career. Specifically, Elizabeth’s attorney threatened to publish false allegations that the cameras were intended to capture footage of Elizabeth in her private dressing area, scantily clad, unless the Trustee acquiesced to Elizabeth’s demands. The allegations are not true.”
Though the petition has acknowledged that cameras were installed in the closet, the petition says that Aaron did so at the advice of his attorney “to ensure the preservation of the Trust’s valuables contained therein” after he received word that friends of Elizabeth’s had been seen entering the couple’s Malibu home and removing artwork from the building while she had been detained in Bermuda — where the petition states she and Joe Kaplan had been vacationing at the time of his death — by local police.
The petition also claims that the closet captured in the video belonged to Joe, not Elizabeth and that the footage also shows Elizabeth and her mother “ransacking” Joe’s closet in search of money, bringing a locksmith in to attempt to break into the safe in his closet and taking $10,000 in cash.
“Elizabeth’s attorneys have viewed the entirety of the footage and are well aware that the only indecencies captured by the motion-activated cameras were Elizabeth’s theft of inheritance meant for Joe’s children and heartless desecration of her late husband’s memory,” the petition states.
In a statement sent to TheWrap, Aaron Kaplan’s attorneys, Sanford Michelman and Howard Weitzman, said they were “disappointed” that Elizabeth and her lawyer’s “desire to sensationalize” the death of Joe Kaplan with a lawsuit “designed to change the terms of, and get more money from, the Trust created to protect Joe’s three children.”
“The Trust’s attorney, and not Aaron, instructed that cameras be placed in Joe’s locked closet out of concern that Elizabeth would try and wrongfully misappropriate trust assets. As it turned out, the camera caught Elizabeth doing just that, and as such, her fictional allegations will be conclusively demonstrated as silly and meritless. As trustee, Aaron is focused only on protecting the Trust for the benefit of all of its beneficiaries as his brother wished, and he will not succumb to extortionist tactics,” the statement also said.
An attorney for Elizabeth Kaplan did not immediately comment on the accusations when contacted by TheWrap.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.