Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Audrey Hepburn’s Two Sons Each Claim Belongings

Audrey hepburnAudrey Hepburn’s two sons are currently disputing over ownership of her personal belongings.  The two brothers are feuding over a storage unit “filled with posters, photos, costumes, awards and other memorabilia.”  The “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” star, who passed away more than 22 years ago, never decreed who would take possession of these items.  The two brothers are most likely going to let a judge divide up the property. 

See Derrick Bryson Taylor, Audrey Hepburn’s kids still fighting over her stuff, New York Post, May 27, 2015.  

May 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Claim B.B. King Murdered Ploy By Children To Take More Under Will Says Lawyer

NN KingThe lawyer for the late B.B. King recently stated that the claims of Mr. King being murdered by poison are likely ploys to take more from the singers estate. While there was a power of attorney transfer shortly before the death of Mr. King, it was not with the intent to deprive the children of the inheritance that was originally provided for them. Most of the money in the estate has been set aside in a trust that will provide for the education expenses of the beneficiaries but nothing more.

See Nancy Dillon, EXCLUSIVE: B.B. King's kids may be making 'ridiculous' claims he was poisoned because he only left them $5,000 each in his will, lawyer says, The Daily News, May 27, 2015.

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

May 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Five Scams That Target Senior Citizens

DementiaScam artists often prey on vulnerable senior citizens.  These are five common scams that are often used to take advantage of elderly individuals:

  1. Reverse Mortgage Scams.  This involves fraudsters pretending to be government agencies offering homeowners lower tax burdens in exchange for hundreds in fees.
  2. Funeral Scams.  Some scam artists will research local obituaries and then show up to the funeral claiming to be an unpaid creditor of the deceased. 
  3. Investment Scams. Senior citizens are often frequently target by investment scams.  One of the most famous examples of this was the Bernie Madoff pyramid scheme.
  4. Internet Scams. Elderly individuals who lack experience with the internet can often be targeted with email viruses to steal personal financial information. 
  5. Medicare and Health Insurance Scams.  One of the most common types of scams involves fraudsters posing as Medicare or health insurance company representatives to trick seniors into revealing personal information about themselves.  These scam artists then use that information to bill Medicare or the health insurance company and escape with the money.   

See J. Wesley Harned, Elder Abuse – Five common scams aimed at seniors, DelCotto Law Group PLLC, Lexology, May 21, 2015.

May 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Modern Estate Planning Basis Plays Important Role

ScaleThe American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 raised the federal estate tax exemption to $5 million for each individual.  This amount is adjusted to inflation which means an individual can transfer up to $5,430,000 before being effected by the estate tax.  The change to estate tax law has shifted the focus of many estate planners from “estate tax” planning to “basis” planning.

“Basis” is an income tax concept which the IRS uses to calculate the tax a person owes after selling an asset.  Individuals and couples should consider the fair market value of their assets before deciding on whether to give the asset away as a gift or transfer it at death.   Estate Planners should be prudent about considering basis in order to reduce the income tax liability that a client will face.

See Virginia Carter & Zachary Lamb, Ward and Smith, P.A. Modern estate planning – It’s all about that basis, May 27, 2015.

May 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

B.B. King’s Children Face Long Complex Legal Battle

Old bb kingI have previously discussed the dispute over the estate of B.B. King.  The late blues is currently survived by 11 living biological and adopted children.  King’s children are currently in a high profile dispute with LaVerne Toney, the Musicians former business agent who currently has power of attorney over King’s estate.  The children of B.B. King have a long legal battle ahead of them, this dispute is far from over.

See Justin Wm. Moyer, B.B. King: 15 children and potentially a big legal mess, The Washington Post, May 22, 2015.

May 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

North Carolina Lawyer Who Misappropriated $1.6 Million Loses License

PeterCapeceA North Carolina attorney who worked for a prestigious Lincoln County law firm has been disbarred after admitting to misappropriating $1.6 million from an estate that he was executor of.  Peter Capece, who was executor of the estate of Fritz Detmers, used the money that he misappropriated for his own personal gain.  Judge Donald Stephens ruled that the disgraced attorney will lose his license for at least five years.  Capece has also been fired from the Jonas law firm, which released a statement expressing it was “dismayed that a former employee, a person we invited into our firm and treated as one of our own, would betray the trust of a client.”

See Joe Marusak, Lincoln County Lawyer Disbarred For Misappropriating $1.6 Million, The Charlotte Observer, May 20 2015.

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

May 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Malpractice, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How To Go Green At Death With An Environmentally Friendly Funeral

CoffinThese days, being environmentally conscious is the thing to do and extends to funerals as people look for ways to avoid the embalming and cremation process. This has given rise to the "green funeral" in which a body is prepared for burial without using formaldehyde and placed in a biodegradable casket which will help aid the decomposition process. Green cemeteries have also come into vogue with the bodies being placed near the surface to decompose quicker and serve as compost for the parkland above. As time goes on we are sure to see new types of green funerals to emerge and take a bigger slice of the funerary market.

See Jena L. Levin, The Rise of Green Funerals, Wealth Management, May 26,2015.

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

May 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hamptons Judge Accused Of Siphoning Fees From Estate

GavelThe estate of Frances Coles' was battled over years before her death due, in no small part, to the wealth she possessed. Numerous individuals looked to worm their way into her confidence and take what ever they could. But it is a judge who us accused of using his management of her estate to siphon off large fees while neglecting to properly manage any of the property or estate legal matters. The family filed suit against the judge and the case is currently pending.
See Kathianne Boniello, Judge Sucking Cash From Women With Dementia's Estate, New York Post, May 24, 2015.

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

May 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Man Thought Dead Wakes Up On Way To Morgue

AmbulanceA Wisconsin man was declared dead at his home when paramedics arrived and found him cold to the touch with the appearance rigor mortis having set in. But something unexpected happened on the way to the morgue, his leg and arm began to move and it was discovered that he was still breathing. Medical attention was quickly administered and he is now in intensive care.
See Man Pronounced Dead Comes Back to Life, KCBD News, May 23, 2015.

May 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Three Documents Every 18 Year Old Should Have

Alicecooper18It is always a good idea to plan ahead for not only your client, but also your client’s children.  When a client’s child turns 18 they should have a will, healthcare power of attorney, and property power of attorney.  It makes good business sense for an estate planner to build a working relationship with not only his or her client but also the client’s children since they will be inheriting many of the assets that you helped make plans for.  It is true that 18 year old individuals do not often have a lot of property or assets, but it is still important to plan for unexpected medical emergencies by having a will and naming a person who would have power of attorney.

See David H. Lenok, What Documents Do Your Clients 18-Year-Old-Children Need?, Trusts & Estates, May 26, 2015.

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

May 26, 2015 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)