Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, August 28, 2017

Pennsylvania Mom Discovers Baby's Cremains Were Really Dog Remains After 2 Years

CremainsTwo years ago, Jennifer Dailey suffered the grief of having a stillborn baby girl. Jerrica Sky’s remains were cremated at the Bauer Funeral Home. Funeral home staff provided Dailey the cremains in a small, white box containing a bag that supposedly held her daughters ashes. For two years, Dailey held and wept over the small box she thought held her daughter.

Recently, Dailey’s husband suggested they might take the remains and spread them in a place that had special meaning to the family. Upon opening the container, Daily found a metal plate that said “Butler Pet Cremation.” The funeral home has already apologized and pinned the fault on Thompson-Miller Funeral Home, which operates a human and pet crematory. The owner of Thompson-Miller immediately took responsibility and apologized for his mistake. Dailey is having nothing with the apology and may pursue legal action.

See Pennsylvania Mom Discovers Baby's Cremains Were Really Dog Remains After 2 Years, Fox News, August 20, 2017.

August 28, 2017 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Article on Don’t Pull the Plug on Bioethics Mediation: The Use of Mediation in  Health Care Settings and End of Life Situations

TerryAmy Moorkamp recently published an Article entitled, Don’t Pull the Plug on Bioethics Mediation: The Use of Mediation in  Health Care Settings and End of Life Situations, J. Disp. Resol. (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Theresa Marie “Terri” Schiavo was a woman who suffered cardiac arrest in 1990 which left her in a persistent vegetative state.1 Terri Schaivo’s case made headlines in 2005 in a well-publicized right-to-die case. The controversy festered in the clashing of opinions voiced from both Schaivo’s husband (her legal guardian) and Schaivo’s parents. Schaivo’s husband argued that his wife would not have wanted prolonged artificial life support without the prospect of recovery, and advocated for removal of her feeding tube. Conversely, Terri Schaivo’s parents advocated for a continuation of artificial nutrition and hydration for their daughter. This well-documented conflict amounted to an array of legal challenges, ultimately involving state and federal politicians alike, including President George W. Bush. The result was a seven-year delay before eventual removal of Terri Schaivo’s feeding tube.

A hefty decision, such as the life or death of a loved one, requires more than a few minutes of deliberation and a handful of outside consultations. Delicate, emotional, and potentially contentious medical decisions compel a structured, compassionate approach to produce quality and well-informed results. Due to the magnitude of the decision being made, as well as the abundance of other considerations, (emotional, religious, historic, financial, etc.) the case for a creative, problem-solving process of dispute resolution, such as mediation, is ripe.

This Comment will explore the use of mediation in bioethical disputes. In Part II, the Comment will give an overview of bioethics and examine its inherent nuances and complexities. Part III will examine mediation and its application in healthcare settings. Finally, Part IV will advocate for increased use of mediation in bioethics disputes in recent, applicable scenarios and cases.

Special thanks to Stacie Strong, Manley O. Hudson Professor of Law, for bringing this article to my attention.

August 21, 2017 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Aging Spaces

Old-man-walker-raising-his-hands-full-length-portrait-isolated-white-background-38695234Ernie MacNeill, a longtime contractor and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), points out problem spots as he tours Elliot Goldberg’s home. MacNeill makes note of carpet that needs to be taken up to remove it a possible tripping hazard, doorways that need widening to possibly accommodate a wheelchair, and discusses moving a closet to make space for an electric lift. Goldberg, 71, has difficulty traversing the multi-storied space . Despite living in a three-floor, split-level home, memories of a deceased wife and family keep him from relocating. MacNeill, part of a growing group of specialists, focuses part of his practice on remodeling homes for aging homeowners that may have mobility and access issues.

There are currently around 3,500 CAPS graduates spanning across the country, but their dispersion is uneven and focused in large cities. While the need for such individuals may be growing, their relative scarcity leaves a gap that has been partially filled by occupational therapists. Though not performing the work of tearing down walls and ripping up carpet, these individuals make suggestions to clients to alleviate some of the common risks found in the home. These suggestions include installing bars in the tub, adding curbless showers, improving lighting, and installing stairless walkways.

While these solutions are practical and may potentially save trips to the emergency room, many of these changes come at a high price.  To counter this, some architects have proliferated the idea of a “universal design.” This would encompass some safety features, like a zero-step entrance, with a selling point considering not just the elderly but also the parent hauling twins with a stroller in tow. By incorporating these design features into new homes and scheduled remodels, contractors create a living space their clients can enjoy even as they age and become less mobile.

See Paula Span, Planning to Age in Place? Find a Contractor Now, N.Y. Times, May 19, 2017.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

May 24, 2017 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Estate Planning for Your Step-Family

Step-familiesToday, about 55% of Americans have no estate-planning documents in place. Accordingly, default rules will come into play in the absence of these documents, which may provide primary benefits to the surviving spouse. Unfortunately, the relationship between the surviving spouse and the stepchildren can be fraught with conflict. Fortunately, proper estate planning in these scenarios can help to avoid confusion and hurt.  Emotional ties do not always sever during a divorce, so it is important to name who is family in your estate-planning documents. Similarly, it will be beneficial to name those who are no longer considered family in order to avoid inheritances passing to unintended beneficiaries. So, keep your intended goals in mind when preparing your estate-planning documents.   

See Amy Ziettlow & Naomi Cahn, Step-Families and Estate Planning, Family Studies, October 6, 2016. 


October 7, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Will a Significant Tax Bill Take Half of Prince's Estate?

Prince4The trustee for Prince’s estate has revealed that a sizeable tax bill could wind up taking half of his estimated $250 million estate, which could potentially force an early sale of his unreleased music. In order to meet a fee deadline for the tax bill, many of Prince’s non-cash assets will have to be sold. Representations for all parties are working to avoid an inevitable fire sale if the deadline is not met.

See Lindsay Kimble, Taxes Could Wipe Out Half of Prince’s $250 Million Estate and Force Early Sale of His Unreleased Songs, Trustee Says, People, June 8, 2016.

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

June 16, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Prince's Death Sparks Will Trend

Last willHas Prince’s death sparked a new trend across the nation—drafting a will? Several legal information sites have seen an increase in sales for downloadable products, requests for consultations, and estate planning activity. This furor, however, is most likely due to personal life events—young couples naming guardians, old couples passing wealth, and others hearing of horror inheritance stories. Starting the will process early can end up saving you tons of money, unlike Prince’s family who face an expensive state-ordered probate.

See Dearly Beloved: Prince’s Death Prompts Uptick in Wills, Private Wealth, May 24, 2016.

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

May 25, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How The New Fiduciary Rule Will Impact Accountants

Business_expenseThe new fiduciary rules have recently been issued by the United States Department of Labor.  These new rules will have a major impact on people who give investment advice to individual Retirement Account owners.  There are many pitfalls that IRA advisers will have to watch out for when giving advice to IRA holders.  This article discusses many of those pitfalls and the steps that IRA advisers can take to avoid violating the new fiduciary rules.  Financial advisers and accountants are going to need to update their practices to conform to the new federal regulations.  The new fiduciary rules are sending shocks across the estate planning industry and estate planners will need to stay ahead of these major changes. 

See Seymour Goldberg, What Accountants Should Know about the New Fiduciary Rule, Accounting Today, May 18, 2016.

May 19, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Relatives Making Claims On Prince’s Estate

Prince3I have previously discussed the ongoing issues surrounding the estate of legendary musician Prince who passed away intestate.  Now there are more people coming forward claiming to be descended from Prince’s half-brother Duane Nelson.  “The two new potential heirs both said they were descended from Prince's older half-brother Duane Nelson, who died in 2011, and was once head of security for the singer.”  There is another person who is claiming that she had a child with Duane Nelson.  “Another woman, Jeannine Halloran, said that she had an 11-year-old daughter with the late Duane Nelson Jr.”  The mother and daughter are willing to undergo DNA testing to try to prove their claims, and both claimers also filed their birth certificates with the probate court. 

See Tom Wyke, Two more ‘relatives’ stake their claim to a share of Prince’s fortune: Family of singer’s late half-brother say birth certificate proves they are rightful heirs, Daily Mail, May 19, 2016.

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

May 19, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

When Political Humor Is Included In An Obituary

NolandWith the Presidential election coming up this year sometimes people can attempt to use political humor in unlikely places.  There was recently an obituary that made humorous remark about the upcoming election.  Provided below is a sample of the obituary:

NOLAND, Mary Anne Alfriend. Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the age of 68. Born in Danville, Va., Mary Anne was a graduate of Douglas Freeman High School (1966) and the University of Virginia School of Nursing (1970). A faithful child of God, Mary Anne devoted her life to sharing the love she received from Christ with all whose lives she touched as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend and nurse. Mary Anne was predeceased by her father, Kyle T. Alfriend Jr. and Esther G. Alfriend of Richmond. She is survived by her husband, Jim; sister, Esther; and brothers, Terry (Bonnie) and Mac (Carole). She was a mother to three sons, Jake (Stormy), Josh (Amy) and David (Katie); and she was "Grammy" to 10 beloved grandchildren. A visitation will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 903 Forest Ave., in Henrico. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, May 18, 1 p.m., with a reception to follow, also at Trinity UMC. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to CARITAS, P.O. Box 25790, Richmond, Va. 23260.

See Obituary of Mary Ann Noland, Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 17, 2016.

Special thanks to Turney Berry for bringing this obituary to my attention.

May 18, 2016 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Retirement Problems That Baby Boomers Face

Check writingThe baby boomer generation started going into retirement at the beginning of this decade and there are more and more exiting the work force each day.  This article discusses some of the financial problems that many baby boomers are probably going to face.  There are many baby boomers who rely heavily on Social Security benefits for survival, and this could be a problem in the future as the Social Security system continues to face financial strains and the government has to make reforms that could change the rules for receiving benefits.  Sadly, there are many senior citizens who have neglected to properly save ahead for retirement and many people have to postpone their retirements to keep up with expenses.  Debt is another problem that many baby boomers are having to deal with.  It is important for people to develop a game plan for dealing with their retirement.

See Baby Boomers’ Retirement Woes Summed Up in 5 Statistics, Fox Business, May 15, 2016.

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

May 15, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)