Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Funeral Homes For Pets--Nothing "Ruff" About It

271166_4696275005603_964932998_nBob Walczyk owns two funeral businesses in Green Bay.  One home exclusively cremates humans, and one is for pets. Interestingly enough, when people come to the funeral home for humans, they question the price, but when people come home to the funeral home for pets, they will pay whatever it takes. 

Since the Walczyk's family launched Forever Friends, the pet funeral home, their sales have risen by 524%. Many others have similar businesses dedicated to memorializing pets.  There are approximately 700 such businesses nationwide--including funeral homes, crematories and cemetaries. 

Nobody has been able to point out exactly what demographic is responsible for the industry's financial boom, but some pet funeral directors believe it is baby boomers who become especially close to their pets after spouses die or children leave home. 

The growth in business could also be due to the growth in burial options for pets. A successful pet funeral business is based on mirroring a human funeral home.  

See There's Never Been a Better Time to Be A Dead Pet, Bloomberg Businessweek, Sept. 7, 2012. 

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.   

September 15, 2012 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Cassini's Widow Sues Her Attorney

Court FightThe widow of Oleg Cassini, Marianne Nestor Cassini, has brought suit against the attorneys that litigated a dispute over the her late husband's will. The story here begins with Cassini's first marriage. In his first marriage, he had two daughters, Antoinette Daria and Christina to his first wife Gene Tierney. When the first marriage ended, Cassini agreed in his divorce decree to divide his estate between his two daughters equally. When he died in 2006, his daughter "Christina filed a claim in Nassau County Surrogate's Court arguing tht she was entitled to 25[%] of her father's estate under the divorce agreement." However, this conflicted with Cassini's will, which breached the terms of the original divorce agreement. Ms. Cassini argued that the will superseded the divorce agreement and so it should control. In this case, the court agreed with Christina, and she was able to obtain $13 million from her father's estate.

Marianne Nestor Cassini appealed and filed a lawsuit against several parties including her attorneys from Putney Twombly Hall & Hirson and the firm itself. She also included Nachsin & Weston, which were the original attorneys to look at the case. Ms. Cassini sought $13 million in damages or what she would have received had her attorneys not committed malpractice. The basis of her claim resided on the fact that her attorneys did not seek to challenge Christina's claim on the fact that she filed after the statute of limitation had run. Some doubt that Ms. Cassini will win this dispute. Christina filed her claim about one year after the death of her father, which means that it was timely filed. Ms. Cassini is probably wrong about when the statute begins to run. The statute of limitations would not begin to run until Cassini had died. Even though his will was written to breach the divorce decree he could have changed it before he died.

See Abby Ellin, Fashion Designer's Widow Sues Lawyers Over Inheritance Dispute, ABC, Sept. 7, 2012.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.   

September 15, 2012 in Estate Planning - Generally, Malpractice, Professional Responsibility, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Students Loans After Death

MoneyUpon the death of a person with federally insured student loans, the payments on those federal student loans are waived. This means that the estate does not need to make any payments on the loans. In order to stop the payments, the executor of the estate might need to send a copy of the death certificate to the lender. This process can be complicated and it might take some time to complete the process. However, the important thing that a person needs to understand is that federal loans are discharged upon the death of the borrower. 

See Dave Ramsey, What Happens to Student Loans Debt After Death?, Fox Business, Aug. 28, 2012.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 15, 2012 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Katherine Jackson Requests Audit of Her Deceased Son's Estate

UnknownKatherine Jackson's lawyers submitted legal documents aimed at performing an extensive audit of Michael Jackson's estate. Her lawyer, Perry Sanders, expressed that they would like to see the details of where the money is going because the benficiaires should be able to see what their money is paying for. 

The legal documents request that ""...representatives John Branca, John McClain and counsel for the estate of Michael Jackson produce for inspection and audit all supporting documents for the Second Account Current and Report of Status of Administration and Petition....'"

Lawyers for Michael Jackson's estate object to the request because it is vague and ambiguous.  "all supporting documents" could include many confidential documents.  Most of the contracts that the estate has entered into are sealed because they contain trade secrets or other privileged information. 

Judge Mitchell Beckloff will rule on what documents the estate should hand over to Katherine Jackson. 

See Katherine Jackson Wants An Extensive Audit Of Michael's Estate, RadarOnline.com, Aug. 23, 2012. 

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.   

September 14, 2012 in Current Events, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article on Posthumous Reproduction

Home.ashxCynthia E. Fruchtman recently published his article entitled Tales From the Crib: Posthumous Reproduction and Art, 33 Whittier L. Rev. 311 (2012).  The introduction from the article is below: 

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) allows for a multitude of choices for conception, ranging from artificial insemination to surrogate parenting after the death of a biological parent through the extraction of eggs and sperm from the deceased for procreative purposes. Nevertheless, there is sufficient societal stigma attached to infertility that some people may intentionally conceal their use of ART. Others simply may not realize the relevance of having stored sperm or ova or embryos as they make other life decisions. Therefore, people cannot be expected to volunteer information about their experiences with ART.
Consequently, it is incumbent upon doctors, lawyers, psychologists, and other professionals to explore and document the wishes of their clients or patients regarding posthumous reproduction. This documentation should be reviewed at every opportunity, especially when advising to advance health care directives (sometimes referred to as living wills), family or estate planning or divorces, or any other process in which procreation is, should be, or could be addressed.

September 14, 2012 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

$450,000 Rothstein Yellow Diamond

DiamondKim Rothstein, the wife of the jeweler Scott Rothstein, is said to have hidden a rare 12.08 carat yellow diamond from federal authorities that is estimated to be worth about $403,012. That was the stone's worth when her husband bought it for her in 2008. Now, the diamond is said to be worth about $450,000. Mrs. Rothstein has also been accused of hiding more than $1 million worth of jewelry from federal law enforcement, including the yellow diamond.

See Tonya Alanez, Missing Rothstein Yellow Diamond Valued at $450,000, SunSentinel, Sept. 6, 2012.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Attorney at law, Florida Probate Attorney Wills and Estates Law Firm) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 14, 2012 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Report From AICPA on the Uncertainty of Tax Law

CongressJeffrey A. Porter (Vice Chair of the AICPA Tax Executive Committee) recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business. His testimony discussed the uncertainty of potential changes in our tax code and its effects on small business owners. Provided here is a link to his written testimony.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.   

September 14, 2012 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CLE on the Basics of Estate Planning

CLE ImageThe Real Estate, Probate & Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas will co-sponsor a 6.75 hr Live CLE via webcast, including a 3.5 hour ethics component, on January 25, 2013 entitled the Building Blocks of Wills, Estates and Probate. The course will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Basic Estate Planning 
  • Elder Law Planning and Issue Spotting 
  • Starting an Estate and Trusts Law Office
  • Probate Procedures and Alternatives 
  • Administration Issues

September 14, 2012 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Clapton Places Painting For Auction

ArtEric Clapton, the legendary rock legend star, placed an abstract painting for auction and might be able to sell it for $19 million. The painting that he placed for auction is called "Abstraktes Bild (809-4)." While Clapton hopes to sell the painting for about $19 million, he could receive as little as $14 million. Regardless of what they sell the painting for, Clapton stands to make a profit because he purchased the painting for $3.4 million in 2001. 

See Eric Clapton Putting Abstract Painting Up For Auction, MSN, Sept. 13, 2012.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Attorney at law, Florida Probate Attorney Wills and Estates Law Firm) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 14, 2012 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Study on Paternal Age As Related To Schizophrenia and Autism

Unknown-3A recent study found that older men are more likely than young ones to father a child who could develop autism or schizophrenia because random mutations become more numerous as males get older. 

The study that tracked this finding was published online in the journal Nature.  It is the first study that provides scientific evidence for the increase in autism conditions. The study supports the argument that the increasing number of autism cases over recent decades is partially due to the increasing age of average fathers.

Experts noted that the finding was not a reason to forgo fatherhood later in life, but it may have some influence on reproductive decisions.  The study also contradicts the previous assumption that the mother's age is the most important factor in whether a child will have developmental problems.  

For more detailed information about how the study was conducted, please click here. 

See Benedict Carey, Father's Age Is Linked to Risk of Autism and Schizophrenia, The New York Times, Aug. 22, 2012. 

September 13, 2012 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)