Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Settlement Reached In Copyright Dispute Over 'Mr. Holmes'

Mr holmesThe estate of Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle has arrived at a settlement agreement with the creators of the recent movie "Mr. Holmes."  The estate claimed that the recent film infringed on stories that were still under copyright.  The lawsuit was filed against Miramax, Roadside Attractions, and Condon in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.  The movie starring Ian McKellen depicts an elderly retired Sherlock Holmes looking back on his life and getting involved in a new case.  Benjamin Allison, an attorney for the Doyle estate, announced in September that a settlement had been reached between the estate and the makers of the film.  Most of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes works are in the public domain, but there are currently ten works published between 1923 and 1927 that remain under copyright.  

See Ted Johnson, 'Mr. Holmes' Copyright Lawsuit Settled, Variety, October 9, 2015. 



October 10, 2015 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Unparalleled Alzheimer's Novel Applauded

Hospital care

Matthew Thomas, 39, published a great American novel about Alzheimer’s—a disease that will impact the lives and estate plans of thousands.  Thomas devoted ten years of his life to writing We Are Not Ourselves, much of that time was while he was working as a high-school English teacher.  Last year, his book was auctioned for $1 million.  The book was subsequently featured as one of the Buzz Books for 2014 at Book Expo America. 

The book tells the story of Ed Leary, a college professor in his early 50s, and his wife Eileen, a nurse, put the pieces together during Ed’s devastating disease.  The book chronicle’s Ed’s gradual demise, in addition to the emotional and financial impact it has on Eileen and Ed’s son. 

Although fiction, this is a story Thomas knows well.  He was 19 when his own father was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s.  Thomas says his father’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s was a “protracted and delayed death sentence.” 

See Deborah L. Jacobs, Debut Author Hits the Jackpot with Novel About Alzheimer’s, Forbes, Aug. 25, 2015.

August 26, 2014 in Books - Fiction, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Review: The Steady Running of the Hour

Steady running

Joanna Scutts has written a review on a Justin Go’s new book entitled, The Steady Running of The Hour.  Provided below is an introduction to the review:

 There is a moment late in Justin Go’s first novel in which the protagonist, reading from a book called “The Icelandic Sagas” learns that in these ancient stories, “personalities are shown through action, seldom through analysis.”

The same technique guides Go’s fiction, but it has its shortcomings for a literary novel — even one structured explicitly as a quest, complete with chapter titles like “The Bloodline” and “The Reckoning,” and a young hero fortuitously named Tristan.

Beyond his name, nothing much identifies Tristan as heroic in “The Steady Running of the Hour”: He’s a young college graduate from San Francisco with an interest in European history. Secretive London solicitors have told him that he has seven weeks to prove his biological connection to the original beneficiary of an outlandish fortune, and with barely a backward glance, he hoists his backpack to chase his grail through Europe.

Although Tristan’s story is written in the first person and the present tense, it conveys almost nothing about how he feels upon learning that he could inherit a fortune worthy of a Bond villain. His internal monologue is both bland and awkward and often betrays the author’s impatience to just get on with the action, already. When a young woman in a bar challenges Tristan to explain his attitude toward this life-changing wealth, the best he can muster is “It just makes me feel weird. . . . It’s just money. There are better things to care about.” Instead of making Tristan seem morally deep, this refusal to reflect on what the money could mean comes off as merely dense.

For the rest of the favorable review, see Joanna Scutts, In Justin Go’s ‘The Steady Running of the Hour,’ A Young Man Races to Find His Fortune, The Washington Post, May 12, 2014. 

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 13, 2014 in Books - Fiction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Madeline's Uncertain Future


As I have previously discussed, neglecting to discuss estate planning matters with your adult children can lead to problems down the line.  The Bemelmans family is one such example.

Austrian-born American writer and artist Ludwig Bemelmans died at the age of 64 with an estate valued at only $200,000.  But before his death, he ensured his wife that a little girl named Madeline would be their Social Security.

That independent Parisian schoolgirl he created has since made the family business millions, but now, due to a lack of succession planning, the author’s descendants are struggling with what to do with Madeline. 

Grandson John Bemelmans Marciano has taken over writing and illustrating the Madeline books, but his mother Barbara Bemelmans, 77, still holds the keys to the Madeline kingdom.  Barbara is the late artist’s only daughter and has yet to sell any of her father’s paintings and drawings despite the demand for Ludwig’s artwork.

Barbara and Ludwig’s grandchildren are now faced with the continuing dilemma of trying to figure out what Ludwig would have wanted for Madeline.  For more on the real-life journey of Madeline, please click the link provided below.

See Deborah L. Jacobs, Madeline and the Family Business, Forbes, Nov. 27, 2013.

November 28, 2013 in Books - Fiction, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Dead Ringer" -- New Thriller Based on Body-Snatcher Syndicates on Sale for the Holidays

Dead_RingerAmazon has chosen Dead Ringer for their Special Holiday Seasonal Promo and are selling it for just $1.99. See http://amzn.to/VxNnsz.

The following is from the press release for Dead Ringer by Allen Wyler:

While speaking at a Hong Kong medical conference, neurosurgeon Dr. Lucas McCrae slips the cloth off a cadaver’s head during a routine medical demonstration, and is overwhelmed by what’s staring back at him: The face of his best friend, Andy Baer.

Stunned, McCrae races back to Seattle to discover that Andy is in fact missing and may have been murdered by a gang of body snatchers who operate a legit funeral business and make a fortune by selling recovered body parts to medical researchers.

McCrae teams up with an unlikely pair—a beautiful but hardnosed female cop and a gang member whose family was victimized by the cadaver ring—to try and expose a macabre web of corruption that involves law enforcement, politicians, funeral home curators and murdered prostitutes.

Internationally renowned neurosurgeon Allen Wyler takes us deep into a nightmarish scenario, shockingly ripped from recent headlines, to deliver a horrifically plausible, page-turning thriller.

December 7, 2012 in Books - Fiction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Dead End Deal" -- Medical Thriller Based on Possible Cure for Alzheimers

Dead_EndThe following is from the press release for Dead End Deal by Allen Wyler:

World renowned neurosurgeon Jon Ritter is on the verge of a medical breakthrough that will change the world.  His groundbreaking surgical treatment, using transplanted non-human stem cells, is set to eradicate the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease and give hope to millions.  But when the procedure is slated for testing, it all comes to an abrupt and terrifying halt.  Ritter’s colleague is gunned down and Ritter himself is threatened by a radical anti-abortion group that not only claims responsibility, but promises more of the same. 

Faced with a dangerous reality but determined to succeed, Ritter turns to his long-time colleague, corporate biotech CEO Richard Stillman, for help.  Together, they conspire to conduct a clandestine clinical trial in Seoul, Korea.  But the danger is more determined, and more lethal, than Ritter could have imagined.

 After successful surgical trials, Ritter and his allies are thrown into a horrifying nightmare scenario: 
The trial patients have been murdered and Ritter is the number one suspect. Aided by his beautiful lab assistant, Yeonhee, Ritter flees the country, now the target of an international manhunt involving Interpol, the FBI, zealous fanatics and a coldly efficient assassin named Fiest. 

Dead End Deal is a fast paced, heart-pounding, and sophisticated thriller. Penned by master neurosurgeon, Allen Wyler—who often draws from experience, actual events and hotbutton issues when writing—Dead End Deal is unmatched as a technical procedural. Its medical and scientific details can impress even the most seasoned medical practitioners. And yet, the technical expertise is seamlessly woven into a riveting plot, with enough action and surprises to engross even the most well-read thriller enthusiast.

June 26, 2012 in Books - Fiction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"The Trust" -- The novel to be released July 17, 2012

The_TrustOn July 17, 2012, Norb Vonnegut's newest financial thriller, The Trust, will be released.

Here is some information about this book from the publisher:

Norb Vonnegut (cousin of the late Kurt Vonnegut) is a former Wall Street insider and master of financial intrigue. The author of 'Top Producer' and 'The Gods of Greenwich', Norb has combined his wealth management expertise and intuitive, darkly humorous writing into a fast-talking, suspense thriller that burrows inside the world of big-money philanthropy and reveals how financial criminals hide behind the First Amendment. Who would have known that charitable donations could be so deadly?

One sultry morning in Charleston, South Carolina, real estate magnate Palmer Kincaid's body washes ashore, the apparent victim of accidental drowning. Palmer's daughter calls Grove O'Rourke, stockbroker and hero of Top Producer, for help getting her family's affairs in order. Palmer was Grove's mentor and client, the guy who opened doors to a world beyond Charleston. Grove steps in as the interim head of the Palmetto Foundation, an organization Palmer created to encourage philanthropy.

Community foundations, like the Palmetto Foundation, are conduits.

Philanthropists gift money to them and propose the ultimate beneficiaries. But in exchange for miscellaneous benefits-anonymity, investment services, and favorable tax treatment-donors lose absolute control. Once funds arrive, community foundations can do whatever they decide.

 For years Palmer showed great sensitivity to his donors, honoring their wishes to funnel funds into the charities of their choice-his unspoken pledge-and it was this largesse which made him a respected pillar of the Charleston community. But after Grove authorizes a $25 million transfer requested by a priest from the Catholic Fund, he discovers something is terribly wrong. He gets a call from Biscuit Hughes, a lawyer representing the people of Fayetteville, North Carolina, against a new sex superstore in their town. Biscuit has traced the store's funding to a most unlikely source: the Catholic Fund.

Together, Grove and Biscuit launch an investigation into the fund, but the deeper they dig, the more evidence they find that the fund's money isn't being used to support the impoverished-it's going somewhere much more sinister. When someone close to him disappears and the FBI starts breathing down his neck, Grove knows he has to figure out who's pulling all the strings before the shadowy figure who will stop at nothing to keep the fund a secret gets to him.

May 31, 2012 in Books - Fiction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How Do You Bequeath Your Legacy?

What Matters The end of one's life usually brings about a reflection of what one's life has meant. This is true for a man named Martin Forrestal. However, Martin isn't a real man. His story is literally just that. The story of Martin Forrestal is detailed in a novel written by financial advisor, Cam Thornton, and the founder of The Heritage Institute, Rod Zeeb.

Their story, entitled What Matters, follows the story of Martin Forrestal as he surprisingly finds himself on his death bed, diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. In the course of the novel, Martin determines that his monetary possessions and his success should not define who he is as a person. He convinces himself that what is important to leave to his wife and children is not his physical possessions but something more. So, Martin creates a list of 15 values that works as a framework for what he would like to leave for his family. Once he creates his list, he tells 15 different life events that he feels embodies these values, records them on a digital storage device, and stores them on his computer. These are some of the values and the stories that accompany them:

  • Leadership displayed by his Scout Masters.
  • Honor from the kindness of citizens who helped a greedy banker from financial ruin when he would have done the opposite for the citizens.
  • Responsibility from the work ethic of his mother.
  • Sacrifice from actions of his best friend, who sacrificed himself in World War II to save his fellow soldiers.
  • And Love from a plaque that was a gift from his mother-in-law to him and his wife.

The story ends with Martin giving this gift to his family, who appears to appreciate the legacy he left behind. 

See Eleanor O'Sullivan, What Matters Most To Loved Ones, Financial Advisor, Mar. 19, 2012.

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

April 22, 2012 in Books - Fiction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Story of an Elderly Widow

Emily, Alone Stewart O’Nan recently published his book entitled Emily, Alone (Penguin Group USA 2011). The publisher’s description is below:

A sequel to the bestselling, much-beloved Wish You Were Here, Stewart O’Nan’s intimate new novel follows Emily Maxwell, a widow whose grown children have long moved away. She dreams of vists by her grandchildren while mourning the turnover of her quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood, but when her sole companion and sister-in-law Arlene faints at their favorite breakfast buffet, Emily’s days change. As she grapples with her new independence, she discovers a hidden strength and realizes that life always offers new possibilities. Like most older women, Emily is a familiar yet invisible figure, one rarely portrayed so honestly. Her mingled feelings-of pride and regret, joy and sorrow- are gracefully rendered in wholly unexpected ways. Once again making the ordinary and overlooked not merely visible but vital to understanding our own lives, Emily, Alone confirms O’Nan as an American master.

For a review of the book and how it can be helpful to caregivers, see Paula Span, The Caregiver’s Bookshelf: How She Carries On, N.Y. Times, Apr. 16, 2011.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (WealthCounsel) for bringing this to my attention.

April 29, 2011 in Books - Fiction, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)