LOS ANGELES (CN) – A former child actress, now 19, sued her mother, claiming Mom dipped into her college fund, which the daughter earned by starring in a commercial that promoted college investment accounts.
“Rather than honoring her promise to save for her daughter’s future, the defendant … unlawfully misappropriated her daughter’s money for her own use,” Krystin Wills claims in Superior Court.
Wills says her mother, Max Luces-Tucker, promised to safe-keep her earnings until she became 18, but spent some of it and refuses to return the rest.
In 1996, when she was 5 years old, Wills says, she made “just under $50,000” from a “nationally televised commercial for John Hancock life insurance and investment products.”
“Recognizing what a sum of that significance, properly invested, could do for their daughter’s future, Krystin Wills’ parents agreed to relinquish any of their own rights to her earnings, and that the money would be solely for Krystin. Her parents agree that her mother would establish an investment account to preserve and grow Krystin’s earning for her future use.
“Krystin asked her mother about the money as she was preparing to apply to college and approaching the age when her parents had agreed she would receive her money. In response, her mother acknowledged her agreement that the money was Krystin’s, but informed Krystin that she had spent a portion of the money, which she would replace, and that she would provide all of the money and the accumulated interest to Krystin ‘soon.’ Unfortunately, but sadly not surprisingly, to this day, her mother has failed and refused to give Krystin a single penny of the money her parents agreed to set aside for her.”
The commercial was timed to coincide with the 1996 Olympics. “The commercial features Wills and several other little girls in ballet costumes, although Wills receives the most screen time and is the only child shown actually dancing. The commercial is primarily an advertisement for John Hancock’s college investment account products,” the complaint states.
Wills says the commercial aired for 4 years and earned her $47,413.
She says her parents divorced, but her mom assured her father that she had deposited their daughter’s earnings in an interest-bearing account.
“During and immediately after her parents’ divorce, Wills initially split her time between her two parents’ households. However, in or about 1999, Wills began living with her father, Steven Wills, full time. While Wills still resides with her father to this day, her relationship with Luces-Tucker has grown progressively strained over the years. Today, Wills and Luces-Tucker barely speak,” the complaint states.
It adds: “The message of Krystin’s commercial was apparently lost on her mother. Rather than honoring her promise to save for her daughter’s future, the defendant, Max Luces-Tucker, unlawfully misappropriated her daughter’s money for her own use.”
Wills wants her money back and punitive damages for breach of oral contract, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and unjust enrichment.
“This case presents an unfortunate example of how greed and unrestrained self-interest can deteriorate even the strongest of bonds – that of mother and child,” Wills’ attorney wrote. The attorney is Rachel Valadez, with Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger.