Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

UBS Wealth Management Ordered To Pay Elderly Couple $2.5 Million

Wall streetAn arbitration panel with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has recently awarded an elderly couple $2.5 million in an investment fraud case.  This is just one of many cases pending against UBS, which recently disclosed it faces about $1 billion in claims.  Even though UBS was required to diversify its investments, the court found that the investment fund was over concentrated in the Puerto Rico bond market.  The elderly couple had invested a major portion of their money with disgraced stockbroker Jose Gabriel Ramirez Jr., who had been in trouble on multiple occasions and even lost his brokerage license.  Mr. Ramirez attempted to plead the fifth in this recent case, but the FINRA arbitration panel decided in favor of the elderly couple. 

See UBS to Pay Elderly Couple $2.5 Mil in Investment Fraud Case, Mahany & Ertle, September 2, 2015.

September 2, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Endowment Returns For Major Universities Declining With Equity, Bond Markets

Ut-austinUnited States public-university endowments have shown a decline in returns for the 2015 fiscal year.  According to Monica Issar, head of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s endowment and foundation group funds will have to move away from passive investment strategies because of the muted outlook for future returns.  In a report put out by the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service the median return for large endowments and foundations was 3.6 percent.  One of the overachievers this year is UNC Management Co., which posted a 9.3 percent return for the 2015 fiscal year.  The University of Texas Investment Management Co., posted only a 3.5% average return for its two investment funds.

See Bloomberg News, University Endowment Returns Fall With Equity, Bond Markets, Private Wealth, August 31, 2015.

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

September 2, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Millions Of Wills Are Now Available For Researchers Online

AncestryThe Wills and probate records of about 100 million Americans dating back to the colonial era are now available online.  Ancestry.com has been digitizing records that for years have been left sitting in dusty basements and storage areas of courthouses across the country.  The genealogy website is offering a treasure trove to both amateur and professional historians who will have a massive wealth of information to study.  People will be able to access the probate records of historical figures like Paul Revere and Harriet Beecher Stowe.  A massive amount of information will also be available to people who are researching their own family history. 

See Mark Pratt, Wills of millions of Americans now available online, Herald-Whig, September 2, 2015.

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

September 2, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

South Dakota Banking Heir Now Broke?

BrokeThe Vucurevichs are something of a noble family as far as South Dakota is concerned due to the once extensive banking empire founded by family patriarch John. However, John's son Tom now appears to be broke after a claim sent to various creditors announced the Vucurevich estate is out of money. This comes as a surprise to many since Tom was viewed as one of the wealthiest men in the state and is associated with a number of high end projects that might now be in jeopardy if the insolvency claim is true. However, situations such as this are increasingly common due to the inherent difficulty in maintaining wealth down through the generations even when advanced planning techniques are used. Multigenerational wealth tends to sputter by the third generation in no small part due to the impossibility of all heirs having the capacity to live within their means no matter how great. While many claim the Vucurevich family is hiding assets, this insolvency claim still serves as an example that a it only takes one person to build, and another to unfortunately lose, a fortune.

See Jonathan Ellis, Banking magnate heir says he's flat broke, USA Today, August 30, 2015.

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

September 2, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Death Cafes Growing In Popularity As People Become More Willing To Discuss Dying

Death cafePublic attitudes about dying are starting to shift as a unique venue known as “Death Cafes” are rising in popularity.  This article explores the growing phenomenon of people meeting in casual groups to discuss many of the issues that surround death.  The intention is to create a warm thoughtful atmosphere where people can feel comfortable discussing these difficult topics.  The death café concept originated in London but has since spread to as many as 31 different countries.  Overcoming the fear of death is an important issue for many baby boomers who are facing the prospect of growing old.  This article also discusses some of the online services that are offered to give people a chance to discuss these issues. 

See Harriet Sherwood, Anyone for tea and sympathy?  Death cafes embrace last taboo, The Guardian, August 29, 2015.  

September 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Technology, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Princess Diana’s Grave Being Left To Nature

Diana graveIt has been 18 years since Princess Diana passed away in a tragic automobile accident and today her grave located at Althorp Estate is being left to nature.  Photographs reveal Diana’s grave covered in flowers and foliage as her final resting place is going to become “part of the ancient landscape over time.”  A spokesman for the estate claims that the growth in foliage is intended to provide the burial place of the late princess with more privacy.  Althorp estate, which contains about 13,000 acres located in Northhamptonshire, was Diana’s home before her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981.  Some of the critics to the plan to leave Diana’s grave site to nature include Darren McGrady, a former chef of the Princess, who voiced his displeasure about the plan on Twitter. 

See Laura Connor, Princess Diana’s grave 18 years on is coated in greenery as estate lets site ‘go back to nature,’ The Mirror, August 31, 2015.

September 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elderly Man’s Will Being Examined Amid Capital Murder Investigation

PattersonAccording to investigators elderly man Martin Knell’s murder on January 28 may have involved a dispute with one of the two suspects over decedents will.  Martin “Mark” Knell Jr., the son of the 96-year-old decedent, has filed a probate case after learning that his father had drafted a new will about a month before his passing.  Melissa Monica Patterson was named both the executor and a major beneficiary of Knell’s estate in the new will even though she only knew the decedent for 90 days.  The circumstances are suspicious because Patterson has ties to Palacios family which has influence in Hidalgo County.  The son is making the claim that his father may have lacked testamentary capacity when he drafted the new will. 

See Ashly Custer, Will of elderly man under review amid capital murder investigation, The Valley Central, August 28, 2015.

September 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seventh Circuit Court Holds That Estate Cannot Set Aside IRS Settlement

IrsThe Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has recently held that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not abuse its discretion when it denied an estate’s motion to vacate a settlement.  In M. Billhartz, Exr., an estate wanted to set aside an agreement it reached with the IRS about the deductibility of assets that were paid to a decedent’s children.  The children alleged in their suit that the amount they were entitled to was greater than the “waiver agreement” from five years before.  The estate claimed it was entitled to deductions under Internal Revenue Code Section 2053(a)(3) for additional payments made to the children and moved for the case to be restored to the original docket.  The opinion of the Seventh Circuit Court can be read here

See Wolters Kluwer, Estate Could Not Set Aside Settlement, Resource Full Law, August 31, 2015.

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

September 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Public Opinion Shift Now Allows Doctors To Talk With Patients About End Of Life Options

MedicalEnd of life choice is a difficult talk for anyone and has been at the center of political controversy since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. However, as public mood has shifted, Medicare is now calling for the ability to reimburse doctors for visits in which they talk about end of life options with a patient. Currently, reimbursement if only possible on the first visit which critics say hurts patients by depriving them of knowledge about advance care plans. Private insurance companies have begun to cover these visits and doctors in some states have been encouraged for years to work these talks into normal office visits. But any change is likely to be slow due to strong opposition from groups that fear governmental agencies will use doctors to encourage people to accept death rather than fight for life. Legislation has been introduced to allow Medicare to cover advance care planning but has not found enough traction to pass into law. One thing is for sure though, this is an issue that will only grow in importance as a record number of American's enter old age.

See  Kristian Foden-Vencil, Medicare: Doctors Should Get Paid For End-Of-Life Talks, OPB, August 18, 2015.

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

September 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 31, 2015

First Wife Of Marlon Brando Denied Request To Be Buried Next To Son

Marlon brandoThe late wife of actor Marlon Brando has been denied her request to be buried in the plot next to her oldest son.  Instead Anna Kashfi ended up being buried in the plot above her son, which means that they will be “head to head.”  Kashfi passed away at the age of 80 after a battle with breast and colon cancer.  The reason that she could not be buried in the plot next to her son Christian was due to the fact that the plot had been previously purchased by Christian’s former wife Mary.  When representatives of Kashfi’s estate contacted Mary she refused to give up the plot.  This article goes into detail describing the tumultuous backstory that lead up to this recent dispute. 

See Daniel Bates, Marlon Brando’s first wife denied her dying wish to be buried next to their killer eldest child - by the son's first wife who has reserved the plot and refuses to give it up, The Daily Mail, August 31, 2015.

August 31, 2015 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)