Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, March 17, 2018

David Rockefeller’s Estate Sale May Hit $1 Billion

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-16/8895f7a9-7021-49a5-8a0b-40c33754f492.pngDavid Rockefeller, the last surviving grandchild of John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil Co., had a well-known affinity for modern art and dedicated much of his life to collecting works by the likes of Diego Rivera, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, and many more. Rockefeller was born into wealth, but over time, his art works began to substantially comprise his personal fortune. Peter Johnson, the Rockefeller’s official historian, noted that the last decade of Rockefeller’s life saw his paintings begin to “constitute a very good portion of his personal estate.” On May 8, when Christie’s will commence auctioning off the collection, we will find out exactly how large that portion actually is.

See James Tarmy, David Rockefeller’s Estate Sale May Hit $1 Billion, Bloomberg, March 7, 2018.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 17, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Here We Go Again: A Third Legislative Attempt to Protect Polluting Iowa CAFOs from Neighbors’ Nuisance Actions

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-16/daf1a477-e031-454a-8efd-d05120e1e91b.pngN. William Hines recently published an Article entitled, Here We Go Again: A Third Legislative Attempt to Protect Polluting Iowa CAFOs from Neighbors’ Nuisance Actions, Property, Land Use & Real Estate Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Twice during the past twenty years the Iowa Supreme Court struck down attempts by the Iowa General Assembly to grant confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) immunity from liability for nuisance harms inflicted upon their neighbors. In both cases the challenged statutes were found by the Court to be regulatory takings – unconstitutional extinguishment of neighbors’ private property rights without just compensation.

In April, 2017 the Iowa General Assembly tried for a third time to confer on Iowa CAFOs a privileged status in state nuisance law. New Iowa Code 657.11A, however, did not try a third time to grant CAFOs immunity from nuisance suits. Instead, it provided for caps on the compensatory damages a winning plaintiff could be awarded against a CAFO found to be causing a legal nuisance. The new compensatory damages caps are not seriously inconsistent with conventional Iowa nuisance law, but at several points Iowa Code 657.11A raises puzzling questions about exactly how the legislature intended the new law to operate.

This essay reviews the background of Iowa Code 657.11A, closely examines the wording of the new law, and suggests how various interpretations of its terms might lead an Iowa court to rule differently on its constitutionality. Also discussed are a couple of novel provisions in the new law that are seemingly inconsistent with traditional Iowa nuisance law and with longstanding Iowa law governing joint ownerships.

March 17, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 16, 2018

JFK To Finally Deliver the Speech He Was Meant to Give in Dallas the Day He Was Assassinated 55 Years Ago – After Computer Technology Is Used to Recreate His Voice

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-16/d8547520-9582-4dfd-b98e-c3f2cafda5e7.pngCereProc, a British audio technology company, and Rothco, an Irish creative agency, collaborated to recreate John F. Kennedy’s Dallas Trade Mart speech that he was scheduled to deliver on November 22, 1963, the day he was assassinated. In order to recreate the tenor and delivery so unique to Kennedy’s manner of speaking, the companies had to analyze hundreds of his prior speeches to get it right. Thanks to this technology, Kennedy can now be heard orating the famous words he was meant to deliver on that tragic November day nearly 55 years ago.

See Minyvonne Burke, JFK To Finally Deliver the Speech He Was Meant to Give in Dallas the Day He Was Assassinated 55 Years Ago – After Computer Technology Is Used to Recreate His Voice, DailyMail.com, March 15, 2018.

March 16, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

How New Tax Laws Can Affect Your Education Plans

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-16/0e00a3cd-8126-49fa-b15a-302391f29683.pngRecent statistics show that Americans currently owe nearly $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. Comparatively, the figure for credit card debt owed is less than $1 trillion. Given this, the consternation felt by many Americans in response to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was understandable. In its early stages, tax reform threatened tax deductions and breaks available to many students. Fortunately, most education deductions survived the bill unscathed. In fact, one of the most significant alterations relating to education involved the expanded use of Section 529 accounts. Beginning this year, the use of 529 accounts will be substantially expanded in that “qualified distributions” will include tuition payments at private, public, and religious schools.

See James Agnew, How New Tax Laws Can Affect Your Education Plans, Market Watch, March 7, 2018.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 16, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on 'Undemocratic' Trusts and the Numerus Clausus Principle

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-15/1987d573-0a84-4f34-8f14-9001e30e4d1a.pngE. Gary Spitko recently published an Article entitled, 'Undemocratic' Trusts and the Numerus Clausus Principle, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

In Democracy and Trusts, Professor Carla Spivack argues that, pursuant to the numerus clausus principle, a court is empowered to impair legislation authorizing a certain trust form where the legislation was not the product of "democratic decision-making." This imaginative claim is predicated upon two antecedent claims. First, Professor Spivack argues that the numerus clausus principle should apply to equitable interests. Second, she argues that the numerus clausus principle does not invest legislatures with the sole authority to determine allowable property forms; rather, courts also have an important role to play in composing the list of property forms. This review essay first briefly considers the two antecedent arguments before evaluating Professor Spivack's main claim that, in certain circumstances, the numerus clausus principle bestows upon courts a type of veto power over trust legislation.

March 16, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Widow of Toto Member Jeff Porcaro Sues Band for Royalties

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-15/6c8b55a8-a93f-45ca-b77a-d593388353fb.pngSusan Porcaro-Goings says that her husband, Jeff Porcaro, placed her in charge of his estate after he passed away in 1992. This position entitles Porcaro-Goings to Porcaro’s share of Toto’s royalties. According to court documents, Porcaro-Goings is alleging that former band mates are acting together to keep band finances secret. She has made a number of requests regarding revenues but has never been provided with complete and accurate details. Porcaro-Goings is filing the suit to force Toto to disclose its records in order to find out what she is owed.

See Widow of Toto Member Jeff Porcaro Sues Band for Royalties, TMZ, March 12, 2018.

Special thanks to Molly Neace, estate planning attorney, for bringing this article to my attention.

March 16, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Article on Access to Justice: What to Do About the Law of Wills

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-15/5cd72b98-f86d-4752-b414-df525dc763ac.pngIris J. Goodwin published an Article entitled, Access to Justice: What to Do About the Law of Wills, 2016 Wis. L. Rev. 947 (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Part I of this Article places the online, do-it-yourself will in the context of the push to enlarge access to justice for people of poor or moderate means in civil law matters. Part I has three subsections. The first of these subsections examines the recent movement to expand pro se representation where sundry civil law rights are concerned. The second subsection explores the significance of pro se opportunities in non-litigious circumstances such as estate planning. The third subsection considers what might be at stake for the poor and middle class in the right to dispose of property at death. Part II treats the online, do-it-yourself will and its tenuous position in the current law of wills. Part III makes the case that the online, do-it-yourself will is not so clearly an attested will but is a hybrid, with attributes of a holographic instrument also. This insight sets the stage for the later argument that an exception in the law with respect to the rigorous treatment of legal language--a kind of interpretive generosity--previously extended to the holographic will is appropriately applied to this newer vehicle created via self-help. Part IV sets out the rigorous standards for execution that any will--lay-drawn or otherwise--must surmount. This Part examines both the historic requirements for execution (many of which are still in play in some states) and recent reforms, building to the observation that the attested will and the holographic one, even though each is predicated upon a distinct legal ethos, are starting to merge. This observation invites use of standards heretofore applicable to the holographic will (standards like interpretive generosity) to the attested (or hybrid). Part V leaves behind the rigors for executing a will and turns to the other legal challenge for the person who would create a will without assistance of counsel--the canons of construction for testamentary language. If the rigors of execution have begun to ameliorate, the standards for interpreting legal language are still robust. Part VI examines interpretive largess as it has been applied to holographic wills and suggests that it be extended to the online, do-it-yourself will. Part VII acknowledges the potential that an expanded use of interpretive largess could have on the law of future interests and suggests ways to cabin it by embedding its application in a rigorous methodology and then limiting its application.

March 15, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stephen Hawking Dies at 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-15/2df65a92-8584-43b7-abb5-6d04a4e334e7.pngStephen W. Hawking, best-selling author and Cambridge University physicist, passed away in his Cambridge, England home on Wednesday at the age of 76. Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, praised Hawking’s legacy, saying, “Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world.” Dr. Hawking achieved much of his public renown through his book, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. Since its publication in 1988, the book has sold over 10 million copies and even inspired a documentary. Among his numerous honors, Dr. Hawking enjoyed a starring role in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Paralympics Games in London and in 1982, was named a commander of the British Empire. Despite his intellectual achievements, Dr. Hawking was never awarded a Nobel Prize. His explanation for this was characteristically to the point: “The Nobel is given only for theoretical work that has been confirmed by observation. It is very, very difficult to observe the things I have worked on.”

See Dennis Overbye, Stephen Hawking Dies at 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos, The New York Times, March 14, 2018.

Special thanks to Dr. Rickey J. Reynolds for bringing this article to my attention. 

March 15, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Law Changes Leave Charitable Incentives Unscathed

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-15/fc6c6243-b877-47ca-b2d7-2b37caf53fae.pngThe Tax Cut and Jobs Act, despite what you may have heard, actually leaves the deduction for charitable giving completely unscathed. The charitable deduction has its roots of origin in the War Revenue Act of 1917. As Congress attempted to raise revenue to fund America’s involvement in World War I, there were growing concerns that overall charitable giving would decrease.

Of the three most notable tax deductions available to tax payers — mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable gifts — the charitable deduction was the only one to remain intact under the TCJA. So, despite concerns that charitable donations may fall as an ancillary effect of the bill, it is important to remember that charitable giving stems from an individual’s desire to positively impact the world and that this desire does not disappear due to changes in tax laws.

See Ray Caraway, Tax Law Changes Leave Charitable Incentives Unscathed, BizWest, March 7, 2018.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 15, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE on Gun Law in Montana

0000000 CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Gun Law in Montana, which will take place on Monday, March 19, 2018 at the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown in Missoula, MT. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Confidently Navigate the Complexities of Firearm Laws - From the Gun Show to the Holster

The constitutional protection of individual gun rights has never been stronger, but regulatory and liability concerns can hamper even the most responsible owner. Is your knowledge of federal, state and local law effective enough to protect your client from criminal or civil charges? Let our experienced faculty give you the insight you need. Learn the difference between Title 1 and Title 2 firearms, the requirements for selling at a gun show versus selling to a private party, and more. Make sure your clients are able to exercise their Second Amendment rights while avoiding liabilities that can put themselves or others at risk. Register today!

  • Understand the lesser-known constitutional aspects of firearms law, including the First Amendment issues that surround gun shows.
  • Know how the Firearms Owners Protection Act affects the possession of automatic weapons.
  • Find out the legal requirements for an individual who buys multiple handguns in the same purchase.
  • Recognize what Title 2 firearms are and the unique purchasing and taxation requirements that come with them.
  • Get an overview of the legal requirements that govern firearms dealers, including audits by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
  • Discover the potential criminal or civil liability individuals can face under Child Access Prevention laws.
  • Identify situations in which you should or must break confidentiality with your client.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level seminar is intended for attorneys. The content will be useful for law enforcement, government officials, firearm dealers and advocates for gun rights or gun control. Paralegals may also benefit.

Course Content

  1. Constitutional Components of Firearms Law
  2. State and Federal Firearms Laws: What Attorneys Need to Know
  3. Montana Concealed and Open Carry Law
  4. Title 1 Firearms and Their Regulation
  5. Title 2 Firearms: Unique and Misunderstood
  6. Firearms Dealers and Licensing Requirements
  7. Liability Concerns for Gun Dealers and Owners
  8. Ethical Considerations When Representing Gun Owners or Dealers

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 6.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

March 15, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)