Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Report on Joint Tenancy

UnknownBritish Columbia Law Institute recently published a Report on Joint Tenancy, BCLI Rep. no. 66.  The abstract available on SSRN is below: 

Some of the common-law rules governing joint tenancy are not in keeping with present-day circumstances. This report makes numerous recommendations for the reform of the law of joint tenancy to remove some of its more anachronistic features and allow this very popular way of holding land to better serve contemporary society. In particular, it addresses the mechanics of severance of joint tenancy and the rigidity of rules that make it impossible for joint tenants to hold unequal shares in proportion to their financial contributions to the acquisition of jointly owned property, or to add or substitute joint tenants.

November 21, 2012 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Man Dies From Chiefs' Disappointing Season

CementaryA Missouri man's obituary read, "Loren G. "Sam" Lickteig passed away on November 14, 2012 of complications from MS and heartbreaking disappointment caused by the Kansas City Chiefs football team." To his family, Lickteig was a die hard Chiefs football fan and a jokester about the teams disappointing season. So, his daughters thought that it would be a fitting to make sure their father had the last laugh about the team's recent failures. Now, the news of this man's obituary has spread across the nation. Check out the video provided by CNN here.

See Man's Obit Blames Death on Football Team, WIBW.com, Nov. 19, 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.

November 21, 2012 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Estate Planning Lessons Learned, Part 3

Mike DitkaMike Ditka, Head Coach of the Super Bowl XX Champion Chicago Bears, recently suffered from a stroke in November of 2012. While Ditka is thankfully expected to recovery from this ordeal, we can still take a lessons from his illness. 

The most obvious lesson that this incident reminds us about is that estate planning is not only used to determine what happens to our property after we die. Many people are under the delusion that the only document that they need is a will. However, that is not case. It is important to remember that a person should also plan for incapacity. A will alone does not provide for incapacity. In the absence of instruction, a probate court will likely "appoint a conservator or guardian to make financial and health decisions for" him or her. Now, a person can avoid the extra costs and paperwork with the courts by creating a durable power of attorney, which allows them to appoint someone to step-in and make decisions when that person is no longer able to. This type of incapacity could occur when a person has a stroke like Mike Ditka had. Thus, it is important to get ones affairs in order here so that there can be someone to take care that person's affairs should they become incapacitated.

See Evan Guthrie Law Firm, Estate Planning: Lessons Learned From Mike Ditka, JD Supra, Nov. 20, 2012.

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

November 21, 2012 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Unjust Disposition

WillsOn an interesting note, testators have the right to write a will that creates what some may consider to be an unjust disposition. Past courts have stated that if a testator "has the capacity to make a will, he many make it as unjust as revenge can dictate."

See Heirs of Goza v. Estate of Potts, 374 S.W.3d 132 (Ark. Ct. App. 2012), Westlaw Headnote of the Day, Nov. 20, 2012.

Special thanks to Darlene Murphy (Texas Tech University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2013) for bringing this article to my attention. 

November 21, 2012 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Perrin Guilty

Court FightAs I have previously discussed, Judge Heather Perrin was accused a defrauding a former client by drafting a will that left a portion of his estate to her daughters instead of his nieces. The jury deliberated for less than four hours and returned a guilty verdict. Following the guilty verdict, the judge ordered Judge Perrin to relinquish her passport, and she "was remanded on continuing bail until November 28 for sentencing." Reports from the courthouse stated that Judge Perrin was visibly upset and shocked when the jury verdict was read aloud. She could possibly receive a maximum of five years in prison. According to BreakingNews, Perrin is the first judge in Ireland's history to be convicted of a crime as serious as the one that Judge Perrin committed. At the moment, she is still a presiding judge. In Ireland, judges can only be removed by a decision of the Olreachtas.

See District Court Judge Shocked By Guilty Verdict In Deception Case, BreakingNews.ie, Nov. 20, 2012.

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

November 21, 2012 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Malpractice | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Article on Testamentary Formality

GloverBioMark Glover (Professor of Law, LSU Law Center) recently published his article entitled The Therapeutic Function of Testamentary Formality, 61 Univ. of Kansas L. Rev. 139 (2012).  The abstract from the article available on SSRN is available below: 

Therapeutic jurisprudence is concerned with the psychological consequences of the law. This article uses this burgeoning field to analyze one aspect of the estate planning process, namely the formalities of will-execution. The article first identifies the positive and negative psychological consequences of the formalities that require valid wills to be written, signed, and witnessed. Although the analysis suggests that, when coupled with a rule of strict compliance, these formalities can negatively affect the testator’s psychological wellbeing, the article ultimately concludes that testamentary formality serves an overall therapeutic function. The article then examines various reforms of the law of wills, such as the proposals to reduce the formality of will-execution and to relax the law’s insistence on strict literal compliance, to determine whether these proposals bolster or diminish testamentary formality’s therapeutic function. The article argues that these proposals have important therapeutic ramifications, which policymakers should consider when evaluating whether to implement reform.

November 20, 2012 in Articles, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kansas City Lawyer Accused of Felony Forgery and First Degree Murder

Gavel1Susan Elizabeth Van Note is a Kansas City lawyer accused of forging a durable power of attorney and killing her millionaire father.  A Clay County probate judge has removed her as the personal representative of her father's estate.  She has pleaded not guilty to felony forgery and first-degree murder in Boone County, and she is currently free on a $1 million cash bond.  

Her father, William Van Note, died in October 2010 when doctors removed him from life support after an intruder shot him and his long-time girlfriend, Sharon Dickson.  Four days after the shooting incident, Susan presented Doctors with a durable power of attorney that gave them the permission they needed to remove William from life support.  Now she is being charged with forging that power of attorney.

Three days after Susan was chaged with killing her father, Andrew Dickson, Sharon's son, Andrew Dickson, asked the probate court to remove Van Note as the estate's executor. At that point the judge suspended her from the role, and scheduled the hearing that has now confirmed she is no longer the personal representative of her father's estate.

William's estate is worth at least several million dollars. He was preparing to marry Dickson after two decades together.  Provided she outlived him, she was his first choice as personal representative and his principal beneficiary.

Prosecutors have yet to announce a motive in William's killing, but The San Francisco Chronicle seems to suggest that it could be related to Susan's financial troubles.  In September 2009, Susan filed for bankruptcy in federal court and her mother has also had legal troubles.

See Alan Scher Zagier, KC Lawyer Charged in Dad's Death Loses Will Fight, SFGate, Nov. 20, 2012.  

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

November 20, 2012 in Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Caramadre and His Employee Plead Guilty

Court FightAs I have previously discussed, philanthropist and lawyer Joseph Caramadre and his employee Raymour Radharkrishnan were indicted on a great number of counts for using fraudulently obtained information from terminally ill clients to make profit on death benefit annuities. Now, both men have pleaded guilty to two of the counts, wire fraud and conspiracy. Both men admitted to doing exactly what they were accused of doing. They were accused of "stealing the identities of terminally ill patients, lying to them, and lying to insurance companies to make millions in profits for themselves and dozens of other investors." The sentencing phase is scheduled to begin in February. Both men could receive 10 years in federal prison. 

See Jim Taricani, Philanthropist Pleads Guilty to Cheating the Terminally Ill, NBC 10, Nov. 19, 2012.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) and Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

November 20, 2012 in Current Events, Malpractice, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Business Partner Loses Teazars In Will Dispute

WillsShaun Russouw was the business partner of the late-owner of a South African gentleman's club, Lolly Jackson. He claims that the club, Teazers, was suppose to be left to him. The dispute over the ownership of the club occurred when someone discovered that Jackson left two different wills. One of the wills left most of the estate to his widow, Demi Jackson. The second will, which Russouw claims to be the correct will, left the business, property, and a green Lamborghini to him. Russouw further claimed that Lolly Jackson told him that he would receive the business and his car if anything happened to him.

A Durban High Court ruled in favor of the widow, reasoning that any deal between the two business partners was personal and not binding. Judge Pillemer also criticized Russouw for diluting facts surrounding the business relationship between the two men. Jackson died in 2010 from a gunshot wound.

See Sapa, Jackson Had Two Wills: Durban Teazers Boss, Times Live, Nov. 19, 2012.

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

November 20, 2012 in Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Estate Tax Boomerang?

Gift TaxAs I have previously discussed, many are wondering about whether Congress will act in time to prevent the Bush tax cuts from expiring. If the tax cuts expire, the lifetime estate and gift tax exemption will fall to $1 million and the estate tax rate will increase to 55%. Some experts think that this outcome is likely, but there are those who believe that while Congress will fail to act in time, they will likely pass some form of estate tax relief retroactively. As I have previously discussed, these other experts still believe that the estate tax provision that provides for portability will likely to continue through 2013.What is still at risk, however, are the gifts that were made in preparation of the estate tax exemption falling to the $1 Million mark. It is important to remember that from the estate planning perspective, it is better to pass property as a lifetime gift than allow the property to pass through the probate process. The reason for this is because it allows the wealthy to pass assets that are likely to appreciate in value. After the gift is made, any appreciation is still tax-free for the person making the gift. The problem for these people is that President Obama's financial proposals for the next year do not look like it will be too favorable to the wealthy. If a person would like to examine the Green Book, he or she can download it here.

This does not apply to the vast majority of people. These people are more likley use the  annual gift tax exemption, which is set to increase to $14,000 starting next year.

See Deborah L. Jacobs, Will The Estate Tax Boomerang As We go Over the Fiscal Cliff?, Forbes, Nov. 15, 2012.

Special thanks to Deborah L. Jacobs (Senior Editor, Forbes Media) for bringing this article to my attention.

November 20, 2012 in Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)