Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rooney Burial Dispute Resolved

200px-Mickey_Rooney

Mickey Rooney will be buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery alongside other Hollywood legends like Charlie Chaplin, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, and Douglas Fairbanks.

This decision was made by Rooney’s trustee and temporary executor, Michael Augustine, following the resolution of a dispute with Rooney’s estranged wife, Jan Chamberlin Rooney.  Jan had wanted the burial to take place in Westlake, where the couple previously lived.

See Hilary Lewis, Mickey Rooney Burial Dispute Resolved, The Hollywood Reporter, Apr. 11, 2014.

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

April 14, 2014 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Indiana Ordered to Recognize One Couple’s Same-Sex Marriage

RingsA federal district court judge has granted a restraining order for a same-sex couple that will force Indiana to recognize the couple’s marriage. Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler were legally married in Massachusetts in 2013, however a state statute prevents the recognition of their marriage in Indiana. Quasney is terminally ill with stage 4 ovarian cancer. The couple sought the restraining order against the state to compel Indiana to recognize their marriage, so that Sandler will be able to effectively handle Quasney’s affairs after her death. The ruling is limited to this specific couple, and does not affect other cases currently challenging Indiana’s gay marriage ban.

See Charles D. Wilson, Federal Judge: Indiana Must Recognize Gay Couple’s Marriage, Huffington Post, Apr. 10, 2014. 

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.  

April 14, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Estate Map to Shutdown in May

EstateMapAs I have previously discussed, Estate Map is a cloud-based estate planning tool that was launched 10 months ago, and among other uses functions as information storage. Estate Map will be shutting down the end of May. Customers have until May 31, 2014 to retrieve any information they need from their accounts before the information becomes inaccessible on June 1, 2014.

The founder of Estate Map, Joe Henderson, attributed the shutdown to the chosen target market. Henderson plans to replace Estate Map with Navigatr, which will work similar to Estate Map, but instead of targeting lawyers it will directly target consumers as their client base.

See Robert Ambrogi, Breaking: ‘Estate Map’ is Shutting Down, LawSites, Apr. 12, 2014.

April 14, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gen Y Choosing Roths

Definition-Of-A-Roth-Ira

According to T. Rowe Price customer data, investors under the age of 34 have eight times as much money in Roth IRAs than traditional IRAs.  This shift is even more dramatic than an IRS analysis released last year, which showed investors ages 15-35 had four times as much money in Roth IRAs than traditional IRAs. 

This growing preference for Roths stems from the reality of younger workers’ lower paychecks, a broader cultural awareness of the strategy, and the millennials’ savings-oriented mentality based on distrust of the financial industry.

See Andrew Pavia, Big IRA Shift: Gen Y Picks Roths, OnWallStreet, Apr. 7, 2014.

April 10, 2014 in Current Affairs, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rooney Leaves Family Out of Will

Mickey-Rooney

A few weeks before his death at age 93, Mickey Rooney signed his last will leaving his modest $18,000 estate to his stepson/caretaker while leaving out his eight surviving children and his estranged wife.

His family is now fighting over where to bury Rooney.  A judge has ruled that no one can claim Rooney’s body from the mortuary until the fight is resolved.   

See Mickey Rooney Cuts Family Out of Will, The Guardian, Apr. 8, 2014; see also Victoria Kim & Harriet Ryan, Rooney’s Death Stirs Dissension, Los Angeles Times, Apr. 8, 2014.

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

April 9, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film, Television, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bobby Brown’s Lawsuit Against Enquire Continues

Bobby Brown & WhitneyThe defamation suit brought by Bobby Brown against American Media and writer Derrick Handspike over a National Enquire article has survived a summary judgment motion. Soon after the death of Whitney Houston, the Enquire published a story that prior to Houston’s death, she and Brown had gotten back together and were having an intimate relationship. The story was in an edition dated April 2, 2012, and was distributed March 25, 2012. Brown and his wife, Alicia Etheridge-Brown, filed their defamation claim on March 25, 2013. The defendants moved for summary judgment based on the expiration of the one year statute of limitations.

In Brown v. American Media, Inc., U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken denied summary judgment, and found that the Brown’s may have timely filed the suit since the online article posted on March 26, 2012 is arguably a republication that targeted a new audience. The Browns are not in the clear though, as the judge noted that the defendants may be able to bring a subsequent summary judgment motion after discovery.

See Adam Klasfeld, Enquier Can Be Sued for Whitney Houston Story, Courthouse News Service, Apr. 3, 2014.

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

April 9, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Daughter of Anna Nicole Smith May Inherit Millions if Court Penalties Awarded

Smith's DaughterThe estate of Anna Nicole Smith is pursuing millions of dollars in court penalties against the estate of E. Pierce Marshall, Smith’s stepson, which would be awarded to Smith’s 7-year-old daughter, Dannielynn. The case for the penalties alleges that Marshall acted in bad faith during the court battle over his father’s inheritance.  Smith’s estate claims that Marshall lied, destroyed evidence, and depleted his father’s estate with the intent of keeping Smith from inheriting anything.

Judge David Carter has ruled that penalties are appropriate but has yet to decide on the appropriate amount. Judge Carter has ruled that the amount must be for civil penalties reflecting actual damage caused by Marshall’s behavior, and cannot be punitive. The amount could be up to $44 million, and may decided as early as April 29, 2014.

See Heather Alexander, In Last Ditch Attempt, Anna Nicole Smith’s Daughter May Still Inherit Million, Chron, Apr. 3, 2014.

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

April 9, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Gurlitt Allows Investigators to Retain Artworks

Cornelius-Gurlitt-via-Der-Spiegel

As I have previously discussed, Cornelius Gurlitt had over a thousand modern masterpieces, many of which were likely confiscated by Nazis, stashed away in his Munich flat.

Gurlitt has reached an agreement with German authorities to allow a task force to hold onto at least 593 artworks.  The task force will look into the ownership of the works for the next year.  Gurlitt will receive back works considered “unproblematic.”  The works are currently being displayed online in the hopes that claimants will come forward.

For further information on Cornelius Gurlitt and his cache, here is a segment on 60 minutes.

See Josie Le Blond, German Collector Cornelius Gurlitt Allows Investigators to Retain Artworks, The Guardian, Apr. 7, 2014.

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

April 8, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Survey Shows Adults Are Financially Illiterate

Financialliteracy

April is Financial Literacy Month and many adults need more of it according to a new survey: 

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 61% of U.S. adults do not have a budget.  Other worrisome findings include 34% of households carrying month-to-month credit card debt, 60% not checking their credit score in the last year, and 41% grading themselves a “C” or lower in financial literacy. 

Those who are a part of the budget-less 61% should take these three simple steps to begin creating a plan for where their money is best spent:

  1. Determine monthly net pay.
  2. List major expenses.
  3. Track discretionary spending.

See Libby Kane, 61% of US Adults Don’t Keep Track of Their Money, Business Insider, Apr. 2, 2014.

April 6, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tax Court Ruling Helps Trusts Avoid Passive Loss Limitations

GavelRecently, the Tax Court in The Frank Aragona Trust v. Comm'r.,  held that it is now an option for a trust to qualify for the coveted title of "real estate professional" under the passive loss rules. This holding permits trusts to avoid the passive loss deduction limitations. The IRS claimed the trust could not be a real estate professional because the test for real estate professional looked to "personal services," and a trust was an entity that could not perform personal services. Additionally, the IRS if a trust qualified, the relevant participation must come from the fiduciaries in their capacity as fiduciaries and not as employees. The court disagreed with the first claim and did not rule on the second issue, but did say a trust could qualify as a real estate professional.

See Steven R. Schneider, Tax Court Decision Will Help Trusts Avoid Passive Loss Limitations and New 3.8% Tax, Tax Law Round Up, Mar. 29, 2014.

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

April 6, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Income Tax, New Cases, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)