Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, October 9, 2015

Children Of Spain’s ‘Red Duchess’ Involved In Inheritance Dispute

Red duchess sonThe three children of Spain’s ‘Red Duchess’ Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo, known for her opposition to the Franco regime, are in an inheritance dispute with the decedent’s same-sex partner that she married in 2008 just hours before her death.  The legal dispute centers around the palace in Sanlucar de Barrameda near the southern Spanish city of Cadiz.  De Toledo was the Duchess of Medina Sidonia and her widow can live in the estate’s palace until her death according to the terms of the decedents will.  The children allege that their mother went too far with her Will.  Under Spanish civil code the children have the right to 2/3rds of the parent’s property unless they have been disinherited.  There will likely be further updates as this story develops.

See Children of Spain’s ‘Red Duchess’ take inheritance fight to court, eNews Channel Africa, October 9, 2015.

October 9, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court Rules That Attorney’s $14 Million Inheritance Is Not Invalid

WillA Court has recently held that an attorney violated ethical rules when he drafted a Will for a wealthy client bequeathing $14 million for himself and his children, but that his actions did not invalidate the Will itself.  The split decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that invalidated the Will.  The Court held that the onus is now on the attorney to prove that he did not exert undue influence on his wealthy friend and client. 

The Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit attorneys from drafting Wills for non-related clients that include substantial gifts for the drafting attorney.  If the Will would have been invalidated then the estate would have gone to the decedent’s brother and children via Michigan’s intestacy laws.  The Michigan Appeals Court decision can be read here.   

See Paul Egan, Court: Lawyer’s $14M inheritance unethical, not invalid, Detroit Free Press, October 9, 2015.  

October 9, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Medicare’s Rising Drug Plan Costs Is Bad News For Senior Citizens

Prescription drugsSenior Citizens have recently gotten unwelcome news that premiums for Medicare prescription drug insurance plans will increase by double-digits rates next year.  According to consulting and research firm Avalere Health the premiums for popular Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs) will rise by an average of eight percent and five of the top plans will increase their premiums from 16 to 26 percent.  One of the causes of the premium increases is the rising cost of specialty drugs.  Fewer big blockbuster drugs are going generic and there is an increase in the amount of specialty drugs being approved by the FDA.  There have also been recent increases in the prices of some older drugs. 

See Mark Miller, Unwelcome news about Medicare’s rising drug plan costs, Reuters, October 8, 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 9, 2015 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Heirs Of Santa Clause Song Composer Win Court Case

Santa clausA recent decision by the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals has held that a share in the copyright of the song “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” will be re-established for the heirs of the song’s composer.  In this case the daughter and granddaughter of John Frederick Coots sued EMI Feist Catalog Inc. in Manhattan federal court claiming that they are entitled to re-establishing their share of copyright ownership.  The court rejected EMI Feist’s claim that it could hold its copyright until 2029.  The family is hoping to be able to receive a songwriter’s royalty cut from its share of the copyright. 

See Larry Neumeister, Appeals Court Rules For Heirs Of Santa Claus Song Composer, Associated Press, October 8, 2015.

October 9, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Yogi Berra Could Have Made Millions Of His Image

ArticlePictureYogi Berra made as much of a name for himself due to his immensely quotable sayings as his hall of fame baseball career. However, he never went to great lengths to cash in on his persona settling for a handful of ghostwritten books and whatever product endorsements he could pickup. As a result, he died with an estate that, while substantial, did not place him into the stratosphere of wealth that many of today's elite athletes possess. This fact occurred in no small part because Berra had little interest in amassing a fortune, instead preferring a simpler life that afforded luxury but did not offer the chance for $10 million yachts or other prestige items the wealthy use to remind the world they have money and insecurity. That is what makes the Berra story so refreshing, he was a man who excelled in many aspects of his life but never let his primary goal be to make money for the sake money.

See Scott Martin, Yogi Berra Never Cashed In: Constantly Quoted Career Had Estate Planning Dark Side, The Trust Advisor, September 27, 2015.

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

October 9, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Judge Makes Texas First In Nation To Recognize Same Sex Common Law Marriage

TexasA Texas probate judge has ruled that a common law marriage existed between two women as part of a battle over an estate. Stella Powell died intestate in 2014 which resulted in her estate passing to her family under Texas intestacy laws but this was challenged by her long term partner who argued they qualified as married under common law. Although same sex marriage was banned during the entire course of their relationship, it was argued that Obergefell v. Hodges should be applied retroactively to allow a common law marriage to exist. This ruling is likely to face multiple challenges on appeal with embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton already participating in the case arguing that the couple should not be granted the status. This case will be closely watched going forward due to the wide ranging implications of the ruling on many estates that were barred from passing to a same sex partner in intestacy.

See Lane Moore, Texas Just Did Something Huge for Lesbians That No Other State Has Done, Cosmopolitan, October 7, 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 8, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Intestate Succession, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Court Holds That Power Of Attorney Did Not Grant Authority To Create Trust

Power-of-AttorneyThere has been an increasing amount of litigation about the scope of power that is conveyed to an agent through a power of attorney.  An appellate court in Kentucky has recently weighed into this power of attorney issue in Dishman v. Dougherty.  One of the main things to take away from the Kentucky Court opinion is that a power of attorney did not authorize the attorney-in-fact to create a trust.  In order for an attorney-in-fact to create a trust that authority must be expressly authorized in the power of attorney instrument if it contains a provision related to trusts.  In this specific case the power of attorney only permitted the attorney-in-fact to convey property into a trust, it did not permit him to create a trust.  Estate planners should be familiar with the local rules and regulations dealing with powers of attorney.  

See Luke Lantta, Power Of Attorney Did Not Authorize Creation Of Trust, Bryan Cave Fiduciary Litigation, October 7, 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 7, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hall Of Fame Baseball Player Brooks Robinson Will Sell Personal Collection Through Heritage Auctions

Brooks robinsonBaseball Hall of Fame player Brooks Robinson, who is considered to be the greatest third-baseman to ever play, is going to sell his personal collection through Heritage Auctions.  The online only auction will be held on November 5-7, 2015, and all proceeds from the auction will go to The Constance & Brooks Robinson Charitable Foundation.  Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage considers this to be one of "most significant player collections" the auction house ever put on sale.  Brooks Robinson had a storied career for the Baltimore Orioles that lasted for 23 years.  This column lists many of the collectors items that will be sold along with the estimated value of each item.  

See Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson to sell his personal collection through Heritage Auctions, Art Daily, October 7, 2015. 


October 7, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Doctor Charged With Stealing From Native American Burial Ground

Burial siteA California Doctor has been charged for looting ancient Native American artifacts from both tribal and public lands in places like Death Valley National Park and Sierra National Forest.  On Monday a federal grand jury in Fresno California delivered a 21-count indictment against Jonathan Bourne for violating the Archaeological Resource Protection Act.  Authorities had initially launched an investigation into Bourne when his hiking club's website posted a picture of him digging a bow out of a glacier in the Sierra National Forest.  U.S. Forest Service agents searched Mr. Bourne's home and recovered a number of ancient items that included "obsidian cutting tools, three etched stone tablets, dart points, glass beads, and a juniper bow." According to the indictment there are allegedly 32 specific items that Jonathan Bourne took, and if he is convicted he faces up to 98 years in prison and a $2.03 million fine. 

See Elizabeth Warmedam, Doctor Charged With Looting Indian Burial Grounds, Courthouse News Service, October 6, 2015. 

October 7, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Being A Caregiver Can Impact Career

CaregivingA recent study conducted by Genworth shows that being a caregiver can have a significant toll on career prospects. In a survey of 1,200 caregivers more than half said that providing care for a loved one has negatively impacted their career and about 11 percent claim to have lost a job.  One of the biggest problems is that people are not doing enough to plan ahead for the possibility of needing long term care.  Many people don't want to discuss these sensitive and difficult topics with their family, but it is extremely important to come up with a plan ahead of time to avoid a crises down the road.  People need to be prepared for the financial and emotional challenges that long term caregivers experience.  

See The Career Cost of Caregiving, Wealth Management, October 5, 2015. 

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

October 7, 2015 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)