Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, March 22, 2018

No Thanks Mom: The Top Ten Objects Your Kids Do NOT Want (and what to do with them) (The Savvy Appraiser)

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-22/1b222e91-7663-4df6-a33e-66d6f6988947.pngElizabeth Stewart published a book entitled: No Thanks Mom: The Top Ten Objects Your Kids Do NOT Want (and what to do with them) (The Savvy Appraiser) (2017). Provided below is a summary of the book:

A concise guide for parents of millennials, NO THANKS MOM offers sage advice on what to do with those objects ‘saved’ but NOT welcomed by the next generation.

Collections and treasured objects do not always span the generation gap, sustaining both high market value and the taste and style of the 21st century. Learn to downsize what formerly was valued without upsizing your kid’s home. A valuable chapter, The Top Ten Objects Kids Do Not Want discusses the current taste for once- treasured objects such as formal dinner china.

Often a flashpoint between parents and heirs, objects are a reflection of lives and homes. Tales of ‘stuff’ not “in style” include market remedies for antiques, fine art, and collectibles: how and where to sell, what to donate, what to save, and what NOT to bequest to heirs. Offered by an appraiser with three decades of experience, a collector of collector’s stories, the guide sets forth roadmaps and plans for what to do with objects once your kids have said “No Thanks.” Topics include The Five Piles Theory of Downsizing, and Rules and Habits for Creative Divesting.

March 22, 2018 in Books - Fiction, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Harper Lee’s Will, Unsealed, Only Adds More Mystery To Her Life

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-06/8f0d7fa7-f801-45e1-9e56-daa7aa4dc4f9.pngHarper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” left behind a trail of unanswered questions when she died in her sleep two years ago at age 89. One lingering query was why the renowned author had decided to publish another book 55 years after her masterpiece was released following a seemingly dry interim. Are there, perhaps, other unknown works that remain unpublished? And if so, who has the rights to these potential literary giants? The answers to these questions may go unanswered for some time.

Lee was an incredibly private person and disfavored the spectacle of the press. The will she signed on February 11, 2016, just eight days before her death, was successfully sealed after Lee’s attorney convinced a probate judge that making the will public might lead to the harassment of the beneficiaries. The New York Times, unconcerned with Lee’s desire for privacy, filed suit to have the will made publicly available. Archie Reeves, The New York Times’s lawyer, commented: “It’s a public record, and the press and the public have a right to public records.” Fortunately for Lee and her family, the will is absent much detail as it leaves a majority of her assets to a trust: “It is not an uncommon will, and it is typically what we term a pour-over will where anything in the estate goes over to the trust and they don’t have to disclose the terms of the trust,” said Sidney C. Summey, a trusts and estates lawyer in Birmingham.

See Serge F. Kovaleski & Alexandra Alter, Harper Lee’s Will, Unsealed, Only Adds More Mystery To Her Life, The New York Times, February 27, 2018.

Special thanks to Felix B. Chang, Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

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

March 6, 2018 in Books, Books - Fiction, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Will The Legacy Long Survive The Creator?

AvariceHarper Lee fit into one of the finest literary traditions by becoming a recluse after the smashing success of her first, and for a long time only, novel. Of course, that novel is To Kill A Mockingbird which has become a staple of American literature and, to this day, sells nearly a million copies per year. But those numbers might be dropping after the announcement that her estate ordered the cheapest paper back version to be discontinued. This announcement has been a shock to many since Lee was known to favor schools and children having easy access to the book. But any desires Lee might have had are now at an end since Lee's lawyer, Tonja Carter, has taken over and seeks to make more money off a creation with which she had not a thing to do. This action, along with other recent moves, has lead many to wonder is the impeccable legacy Lee left behind is being tarnished by those she empowered to manage her worldly possessions. But whatever the case, it is a shame that American children might now miss out on studying this classic because schools or parents cannot afford the additional cost.

See Colette Bancroft, Harper Lee's estate wants readers to pay more for 'Mockingbird', Tampa Bay Times, March 12, 2016.

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

March 14, 2016 in Books, Books - Fiction, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Alabama Judge Shields Harper Lee’s Will From Public

LeeAn Alabama Judge has agreed to shield the will of To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee. There has been a great deal of curiosity about the author’s estate, but the Judge’s decision will respect the families wishes for privacy. In the order Probate Judge Greg Norris held that the court “finds by clear and convincing evidence that information contained in the will and associated court filings pertains to wholly private family matters; poses a serious threat of harassment, exploitation, physical intrusion, or other particularized harm to persons identified in those documents or otherwise entitled to notice of this proceeding; and poses potential for harm to third persons not entitled to notice of this proceeding.” There is also speculation about where Harper Lee’s papers will be donated which many consider to be a literary treasure trove.

See Tom Steele, Judge seals ‘Mockingbird’ author Harper Lee’s will from public’s scrutiny, The Dallas Morning News, March 4, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hartnett (The Hartnett Law Firm) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 5, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Archives Of The Godfather Sold At Auction

Godfather archiveA valuable collection of archival material related to Mario Puzo’s The Godfather has been sold at an auction. The collection, which included 45-boxes of materials that included the 744-page typed draft of the famous novel sold for $625,000 at Boston’s RR Auction. “Puzo's handwritten notes and changes can be seen throughout the manuscript, which was originally titled Mafia.” There are thousands of pages of notes and drafts related to both the book and the Francis Ford Coppola films. There have been other archives sold in the past from famous authors like J.R.R Tolkien and Alan Turing. Handwritten notes from Mario Puzo over the lines “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse,” spoken by Marlon Brando, are also a part of the valuable collection.

See Sarah Cascone, Archives of ‘The Godfather’ Author Mario Puzo Sell for $625,000 at Auction, Art Net News, February 19, 2016.

February 19, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beloved Author Harper Lee Has Passed Away

Harper leeHarper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, has passed away in her sleep this morning at the age of 89. The author’s nephew and spokesman for the family Hank Conner has stated that “[w]e knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly." Lee’s novel was a story about a small town lawyer named Atticus Finch who defends a black man named Tom Robinson who was on trial for false accusations of raping a white woman. The classic story is told from the point-of-view of Finch’s young daughter Scout who witnesses the racism of the 1930’s. Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961, and her novel has since been read by millions.

See Connor Sheets, Harper Lee dead at age of 89: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ author passes away, AL, February 19, 2016.

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

February 19, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Book On Wills And Estate Administration

ArticleWills and Estate Administration by Kenneth Vercammen has been published by American Bar Association Publishing and is available in print and as an ebook. Provided below is a description of the book:

Estate planning and administration responsibilities are often a significant part of a solo or small firm lawyer’s practice, but these issues are often time-consuming and complex. Written by a veteran attorney who has focused on streamlining his firm's practice in this area, Kenneth Vercammen shares how to establish and strengthen a firm’s wills and estate practice.

Straightforward and to-the-point, Wills and Estate Administration provides step-by-step guidance that firms can use to handle all aspects of an estates practice, from initial client intake to closing the file. Topics are defined in six parts for ease of use:

  • Preparation for Wills/Estate Planning Interviews
  • Interviewing Clients
  • Additional Estate Planning Issues
  • Estate Administration
  • Guardianship of Disabled or Incompetent Parents
  • Marketing Your Wills and Estate Administration Practice

January 19, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Books - For Practitioners | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Book On Estate Planning For Same-Sex Couples

ArticleEstate Planning for Same-Sex Couples, Third Edition by Joan M. Burda has recently been published and is available through ABA Book Publishing. Provided below is a description of the book:

When the ABA released the second edition of this book in 2012, a mere six jurisdictions recognized marriage equality. What a difference a day makes…this third edition follows hard on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. The court decided that “marriage is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.” What seemed an impossible pipe dream at the turn of the century is now a reality. From now on there is no “same-sex marriage” or “opposite-sex marriage”; there is only marriage.

Marriage is just part of the equation. It is the beginning not the end of the legal struggle as the LGBT community seeks full rights under the law. LGBT people still face discrimination in other areas. This new edition of Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples by award-winning author Joan M. Burda attempts to address certain struggles for equality and how these issues affect estate planning for LGBT clients. For example, not all same-sex couples get married. These blended families will continue to present challenges that must be addressed. Preparing an estate plan for LGBT clients requires a creative and comprehensive approach. The issues these clients present are unique and involve considerations not usually seen with heterosexual clients.

January 15, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Books - For Practitioners | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Special End Of Year Sale On Excellent Estate Planning Guides

ArticleThe American Bar Association is having a sale on the books of estate planning guru Seymour Goldberg until the end of the year. Mr. Goldberg is the chair of the Estate and Financial Planning Committee of the Suffolk Chapter of the New York State Society of CPAs and is both a CLE and CPE instructor. In addition, he was the author of an Amicus Brief in the landmark 2014 inherited IRA opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in Clark v. Rameker. Take this opportunity to get some of the best books available on the subject at a great price! More information about his books and the special discount code can be found here.

December 5, 2015 in Books - Fiction, Books - For Practitioners | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

George Orwell Estate Involved In Copyright Dispute

George orwellThe estate of George Orwell, the late author of 1984, was recently involved in an intellectual property dispute with Café Press over the sale of T-shirts emblazoned with the number 1984.  When Café Press received notice from the Orwell Estate of a copyright violation they disabled the T-shirts from being displayed.  This incident has generated considerable debate about Orwell’s legacy and what the author would think about modern copyright laws.  George Orwell’s famous book, 1984, is expected to remain under copyright until at least 2044.  The Orwell Estate has been involved in other past copyright disputes.  In one case they succeeded in a dispute with Apple over a 1984 Super Bowl add to introduce Macintosh. 

See David Kravets, Orwell estate again rattling copyright saber over 1984 novel, Ars Technica, October 28, 2015.

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

October 28, 2015 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)