Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Why The Government Will Get Over Half Of Prince’s Estate

Prince2As I have previously mentioned the late legendary Prince passed away without a will.  This article discusses how over half of his estate may likely go to the government.  “Both the federal government and Minnesota’s state government will assess so-called “death taxes” or estate taxes on Prince’s assets, taking away more than half his estate.”  With more estate planning Prince might have been able to take steps to reduce the amount of taxes that would have been taken from his estate.  As this article mentions, he leaves behind a massive estate that could be worth anywhere between $300 and $500 million.  Because there was no will the Prince estate will be distributed in accordance with Minnesota intestacy laws.

See Rachel Grezler, Why Over Half of Prince’s Estate Will Go to the Government, The Daily Signal, April 29, 2016.

April 30, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court Challenge Puts Klingon Language In Copyright Crosshairs

KlingonKlingon has entered the pop culture collective conscience as the true mark of a hardcore Trekkie with the most diehard fans becoming fluent in the surprisingly developed language. But a copyright battle between Paramount and a group of fans who produced a high budget movie based on the Trek universe has put control of Klingon at center stage. Paramount, the owner of the franchise rights, is seeking to enforce a copyright over the language which could potentially give the studio the right to restrict it's use at any time. However, opponents of the power grab have filed amicus briefs seeking to restrict Paramount from exercising complete control while drawing comparisons to the Academie Francaise which regulates the French language. So, for the time being, the future of Klingon is in doubt but at least the battle will be fought with a ferocity that would make a warrior of the empire (well, the lawyer warriors at least) proud.

QaStaHvIS yIn tlhIngan wo'!!!!

See Ed Krayewski, Paramount Copyright Claim on Klingon Language Challenged in Klingon Language, Reason Magazine, April 28, 2016.

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

April 30, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Minnesota Is The Only State Left That Still Does not Allow Pet Trusts

Pet trustsIt has become standard practice for states to permit pet trusts to be included in an estate plan.  Minnesota is the only state left that does not allow pet trusts.  There are lawmakers in Minnesota who would like to change the law and permit these kinds of trusts.  “It seems that Rep. Dennis Smith, most likely along with his dog Reagan, planned to make the case to Smith's colleagues that it was time for Minnesota to end this unique designation.”  In the State of Minnesota people can make gifts to their pets in their wills, but there is no legal requirement that money be spent on those pets.  With a pet trust the cash must be spent on the animal as a matter of law.  In every other state besides Minnesota people can set up a pet trust with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney.

See Kyle E. Krull, How Many States Allow “Pet Trusts” as Part of an Estate Plan?, The Law Offices of Kyle E. Krull P.A., April 28, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

April 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Did Prince Have A Child After All?

PrinceSince the unexpected death of music legend Prince from what now appears to be an overdose of prescription pain killers the issue of who his estate will pass to has been a question asked by many. A recent filing in probate court by his full sister indicates that the family knows of no children with a host of siblings being the heirs presumptive at this point. However, a genealogical service is coming forward stating to have been contacted by an individual who claims to be Prince's child from a short lived relationship in the 80's. The service indicates that they think the claim has genuine merit but have not revealed any additional details about who the suspected child might be. Due to Prince dying without a will, any children would inherit the entire estate under Minnesota intestacy laws and completely exclude any other family members. But until the claim has been confirmed with a DNA test there is nothing to do but speculate on the existence of hidden heirs.

See Ryan Parry, Minnesota man is claiming to be Prince's 'love child' from a fling with his mom in the '80s as the music legend’s sister asks to be in charge of his $300 million estate, The Daily Mail, April 28, 2016.

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

April 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

British Man Use Friends Ashes To Catch Monster Fish

DeathRon Hopper was an avid fisherman and, as he approached retirement, he dreamed of being able to travel the world with his friends exploring exotic locals in the hunt for the big catch. But it was not to be. At the age of 64 he died of cancer shortly before a big trip to Thailand that was planned with his long time angling companions. Yet he managed to make the trip anyway. Shortly before his death his friends proposed using half of his ashes, with the rest to spread by Hopper's wife in the Caribbean, as part of a bait mix in their quest to reel in the giant Siamese Carp. The idea was met with approval and when his two friends made their trek to southeast Asia he came along as well just not in the way everyone imagined just a few years before. And, in a fitting end to the story, the ashes proved to be the perfect bait when his compadres caught what would have been a world record catch. While, no doubt, everyone wished Hopper would have been able to be there in the flesh it was still a fitting end to the journey of his mortal remains.

See, Fishermen use dead friend's ashes as bait to catch 180-pound carp, Fox News, April 28, 2016.

April 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Judge Rules That Sumner Redstone’s Competency Trial Will Remain Open To Public

Sumner redstoneA California judge ruled on Wednesday that the trial over Sumner Redstone’s advance healthcare directive will remain open to the public.  The lawsuit brought by Mr. Redstone’s ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, centers around the 92-year-old billionaire’s mental competency.  Herzer claims that Mr. Redstone lacked the mental capacity to remove her from his advance healthcare directive, and she is asking to be reinstated as the person in charge of the media mogul’s healthcare.  This case is set to be tried on May 6.  Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan did leave open the possibility that some testimony could still be shielded from the public.  Mr. Redstone’s medical records will have to be carefully examined and the information entered into evidence will be limited. 

See Lisa Richwine, Judge rejects Redstone bid to close part of competency trial, Mediacorp News Group, April 28, 2016.

April 28, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prince’s Siblings: Thieves in the Temple?

There once was a popstar named Prince.
He died and we’ve looked ever since
For a will to instruct us how
To divide this massive cash cow.

People looked high, people looked low.
Was there a will? Answer still no.
His sister rushed into the breach
And sought immediate relief.

She asked not for power or money,
But for a familiar trustee
To protect the diamonds and pearls
Until the true facts are unfurled.

So tabloids let’s NOT go crazy
As journalism, that’s lazy.
Go search for lost kids if you must
Or better a will under dust.

Special thanks to Prof. Frederick E. Vars (University of Alabama School of Law) for sharing his composition with the blog!

April 28, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Prince’s Sister Files Emergency Motion For Appointment Of Special Administrator

Tyka nelsonI have previously discussed the fact that Prince passed away without a will and that his estate will pass via Minnesota intestacy laws.  Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson recently filed an emergency motion in the Carver County District Court to appoint special administrator to gather and protect the legendary musician’s assets.  Lawyers and intellectual property and estate planning experts predict that it will take years to determine the value of Prince’s massive estate.  Prince’s estate includes physical assets like land and equipment, and it also includes the intellectual property he owned from his lyrics and songs as well as trademarks that relate to his image and brand.  These assets could be worth up to $100 million dollars and could pay out for many years to come.  The full text of the petition filed by Tyka Nelson in the Carver County District Court can be read here

See Dan Browning,Without a will, it could take years to estimate Prince’s estate, Star Tribune, April 27, 2016.

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

April 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trust Fund Baby Wanted A Few Dollars More

HanduffsWendy Jean Roberts was in need. That fact drove her to the state of Minnesota seeking public assistance where she swore, under penalty of perjury, that the assets listed in her application represented her worldly possessions. She claimed $1500 in her checking account but, it turns out, that need was not so great as she lead on. Because three and a half years later, the state discovered there was a $2 million trust fund paying out to Roberts more than $60,000 per year while also seeing the corpus grow during that period. In fact, the same month she claimed only $1500 to her name she received a almost $5000 from the trust. Over the course of the scam Roberts received about $30,000 worth of food stamps and free medial care. She is now facing felony theft charges although no trial date has yet to be set. In any event, this is going to cost Roberts much more than the $30,000 she scammed which just goes to show that some risk are not worth taking.

See Richard Chin, Maplewood woman with $2M trust fund was welfare cheat, charges say, Twin Cities Pioneer Press, April 26, 2016.

April 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prince Of Wills He Was Not, The Crown Will Pass Via Intestacy

ArticlePictureThe death of the Prince, one of the most influential musicians over the past several decades, shocked the world in what has been a graveyard year for rock royalty. With an estimated net worth somewhere north of $300 million, the status of his estate plans quickly became a question most curious to many suddenly interested parties. Now an answer appears to be at hand with probate filings revealing that the musician did not leave behind a will or any other estate plan. As it stands now, the singer's sister Tyka Nelson appears set to be the administrator of the estate due in no small part to her status as his full sister. A host of half-siblings were named as interested parties who stand to inherit through under Minnesota's intestacy statute. However, reports have emerged that Prince's home, Paisley Park, could be turned into a Graceland style tourist destination with the cooperation of the family which would indicate the would be heirs are already working together.

See Maria Puente, Prince died without a will, sister says, USA Today, April 26, 2016.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn for bringing this article to my attention.

April 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)