Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

How Afraid of Dying Are You?

Afraid of dyingOddly enough, atheists and extremely religious individuals have something in common: they are among the individuals least afraid of dying. Research suggests that those who lack belief in a higher power seek comfort in death. On the other hand, those who are religious for social or emotional benefits often tend to suffer from the most death anxiety, or persistent fear of one’s own death. The study specifically looked at 100 articles published between 1961 and 2014 to determine how religious beliefs affected death anxiety throughout the years.

See Stacy Liberatore, How Afraid Are YOU of Dying? Researchers Say Atheists and the Most Religious Are Least Scared, Daily Mail, March 24, 2017.

March 25, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why We Should Not Use "Elderspeak" with Dementia Patients

ElderspeakOftentimes, names like “sweetie” or “dear” signal terms of endearment, but why might this gesture be taken as patronizing? A new study shows that elders suffering from dementia are usually exposed to “elderspeak”—a loud, slow form of baby talk for seniors—which makes them feel incompetent, leading to social isolation and cognitive decline. Communication training can help to reduce the number of diminutives, terms of endearment, and collective pronouns that caregivers often use with their patients.

See Mary Kekatos, Don’t Call Me Sweetie! Why We Should Never Use ‘Elderspeak’ to Talk Down to Dementia Patients, Daily Mail, March 24, 2017.

March 25, 2017 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Alexia Echevarria Acuses Stepsons of Seizing Her Assets After Husband's Death

AlexiAlexia Echevarria recently filed court documents, alleging that her stepsons are attempting to seize her Miami Beach mansion and Maserati only months after her husband’s death. Both sons are heirs to their father’s estate and co-personal representatives of his probate estate, but Echevarria claims they are clearly ignoring their father’s wishes. The couple’s prenup stated that upon the husband’s death, the Miami Beach house would be transferred solely to his wife.

See Amanda Ulrich, EXCLUSIVE: Real Housewives of Miami Star Alexia Echevarria Accuses Her Stepsons of Trying to Seize Her $3 Million Miami Beach Home and Maserati After Her Husband’s Sudden Death, Daily Mail, March 21, 2017.

March 24, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Phyllis Schlafly's Children Are at War over Their Inheritance

SchlaflyThe children of late conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly are ignited in a legal battle over their inheritance, which has continued ever since their mother expressed her support for Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries. Schlafly’s daughter filed legal documents this week, alleging that her brother sabotaged her inheritance by influencing their mother to change her will before she died. Specifically, the daughter claims that the will was amended to include a clause that states any legal disputes must be paid out of their inheritance. Further, Schlafly’s daughter has fought to ban her mother’s “hand picked successor” from using her mother’s legacy to raise money

See Jennifer Smith, Children of Late Conservative Icon Phyllis Schlafly at War over Their Inheritance and Have Been Fighting Since She Threw Her Support Behind Donald Trump, Daily Mail, March 23, 2017.

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

March 24, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judge Rules Obergefell Applies Retroactively

Common law marriageA South Carolina judge recently ruled that a same-sex couple who split up after thirty years together had a common-law marriage. This potentially marks the first time that a judge determined Obergefell applies retroactively. The case originated when one of the partners asked for a division of property. The opposing party argued that she did not consider their relationship a marriage. Ultimately, the judge concluded that the common-law marriage started when one of the women divorced her husband in 1987. The couple owned a home together and shared joint bank accounts.

See Stephanie Francis Ward, Family Court Judge Rules Obergefell Applies Retroactively, and Women Had a Common-Law Marriage, ABA J., March 20, 2017.

March 24, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Self-Driving Cars Could Help Transportation Efforts for Aging Americans

Autonomous vehiclesSelf-driving cars might be a viable means of getting from place to place for older adults in the near future. Currently, approximately 16 million Americans sixty-five and older live in communities where the public transportation is poor or nonexistent. That number is expected to grow rapidly as the baby boomer generation continues to remain outside the major cities. Autonomous vehicles could be the key for closing this concerning mobility gap for an aging society, while automakers are vying in the race to reduce or eliminate the amount of time a person actually spends driving in a vehicle. However, there are several impediments that would need to be worked out, as the elderly understandably have a harder time adjusting to such technology. Accordingly, automakers should be aware of older drivers because if they do not trust the technology, the business will potentially slow.

See Mary M. Chapman, Self-Driving Cars Could Be Boon for Aged, After Initial Hurdles, N.Y. Times, March 23, 2017.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

March 24, 2017 in Current Events, Elder Law, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dying with Debt

Average debtYour debts may die with you, but that does not mean those you love will not be affected by it. The type of debt, where you live, and the value of your estate all affect the complexity of debt at death. There are several ways to make sure that debt does not make a complete mess of your estate, such as consistently reviewing your debt, considering life insurance, and meeting with an estate planning attorney. So, if you would like to provide for your loved ones after your death, you should not let poor planning get in your way and create a plan that allows them to relish in your legacy.

See Christine DiGangi, Americans Are Dying with an Average of $62K of Debt, Fox Business, March 21, 2017.

March 23, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on a Blueprint for FLPing

FlpPhyllis Taite recently published an Article entitled, Estate of Purdue: A Blueprint for FLPing, 154 Tax Notes (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

In this article, Taite examines Estate of Purdue, in which the Tax Court held that assets of the decedent that were transferred to the family limited liability company were not includable in the gross estate, that transfers to the family trust qualified for an annual exclusion, and that the estate could deduct interest on loans from the estate’s beneficiaries.

March 23, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judge Allows Wife to Undergo IVF with Dead Husband's Sperm

IvfA Barcelona judge is allowing a woman to use her dead husband’s sperm to undergo in vitro fertilization. The prosecution argued against the ruling, stating that it was not possible to obtain her late husband’s consent—a moral argument, not a legal one. The couple started the process back in 2014, when the husband froze his sperm before undergoing an aggressive cancer treatment that potentially would make him sterile. One day before the cancer took the man’s life, the couple got married in the hospital. In the year proceeding, the woman tried to get pregnant four times, but Spanish law only permits the use of genetic material from a deceased person for twelve months after their death. With this ruling, the woman intends to make the most of her husband’s legacy.

See Judge Allows Woman to Undergo In Vitro Fertilization with Dead Husband’s Sperm, Fox News, March 23, 2017.

March 23, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Non-Recognition Provisions in the Income Tax

Income taxJames R. Repetti recently published an Article entitled, Taft v. Bowers: The Foundation for Non-Recognition Provisions in the Income Tax, 42 ACTEC L.J. (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Taft v. Bowers is a Supreme Court decision that is rarely studied in law schools or discussed by scholars. Yet, it is a case of vast significance. In the Taft decision, the Supreme Court confirmed that Congress may create non-recognition exceptions to the income tax that merely defer the recognition of income, rather than permanently exclude it. If the Taft case had been decided differently, it is likely that the number of non-recognition provisions in the Internal Revenue Code ("Code") would be significantly reduced.

March 23, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)