Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Supreme Court Refuses Appeal Over Resting Place Of Jim Thorpe

ArticleThe United States Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal concerning the final resting place of sporting legend Jim Thorpe. The suit was brought by sons of the Olympic gold medalist to have their father's body moved to tribal grounds in his native Oklahoma. The body was placed in it's current resisting spot by Thorpe's widow after Oklahoma refused to erect a monument in the 1950's. At trial, the judge ruled that the memorial dedicated to Thorpe triggered a federal law that was designed to return Native American remains to tribes but was overturned on appeal. By declining to hear the case, the Supreme Court has seemingly put an end to any attempts to move Thorpe from the city that now bears his name.

See Peter Hall, U.S. Supreme Court: Jim Thorpe's body to remain in town that bears his name, The Morning Call, October 5, 2015.

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

Carter Won't Let Cancer Get In The Way, Set To Mediate Dispute Between MLK's Children

ArticlePictureFormer President Jimmy Carter is not letting brain cancer stand in his way as he is now set to mediate the ongoing dispute between the surviving children of Martin Luther King Jr. The dispute arose from the proposed sale of their father's Bible and Nobel Peace Prize to a private buyer which is opposed by Bernice King and supported by her two brothers. The items originally belonged to the children but ownership was transferred to the estate as part of an agreement signed in the 90's. Carter expressed hope that he could bring the siblings together which should be, based on his track record, a hope that comes to pass.

See Kate Brumback, Jimmy Carter to mediate dispute over MLK Bible, Nobel Peace Prize, Washington Times, October 5, 2015.

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Scaife Estate Claims To Have Overpaid State Estate Tax By $10 Million

Richard-ScaifeI have previously discussed the dispute over the estate of the late Tribune-Review Publisher Richard Scaife.  The Estate has filed a tax return with the State of Pennsylvania claiming that the estate overpaid the State's estate tax by $10 million.  According to accountants for the estate the tax payments amounted to $104.7 million, but that a year-long review that they did on the estate shows that they should have only paid $94.5 million.  This current estate tax dispute is separate from many of the other legal actions that the Scaife estate is involved in.  The Scaife estate was worth about $830 million and about according to the tax return about $630 of that was subject to tax.  Because of the large size of this estate there will likely be more future developments to this story.  

See Mike Wereschagin, Scaife estate overpaid state taxes by $10M, return filed Monday states, Trib Live News, October 5, 2015. 



October 6, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Keith Mason Will Mediate Family Dispute Over Neville Wran’s Estate

Neville wranI have previously discussed the ongoing dispute over the estate of former New South Wales Premier Neville Wran.  Eminent jurist Keith Mason has recently agreed to act as a mediator in the family feud over the $40 million estate.  Next month the squabbling parties of the conflict are going to meet behind closed doors to attempt to arrive at an agreement over how to distribute the estate.  The parties will begin mediation on November 2nd and will report back to the Court on November 20th.  This is an ongoing legal battle and this story will likely have more developments in the future.

See Louise Hall, Eminent jurist Keith Mason to mediate family dispute over Neville Wran’s $40 million fortune, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 6, 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 6, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Delaware Court Goes Against Growing Trend Of Prioritizing Beneficiaries’ Wishes

JudgmentThe Court of Chancery in Delaware has recently rejected the petition by the income beneficiary of a trust to modify its written terms to permit the inclusion of an investment adviser and directed trustee.  In In re Trust Under Will of Wallace B. Flint for the Benefit of Katherine F. Shadek the court held that letting the beneficiary modify the trust would contradict the State of Delaware’s policy of upholding the settlors intent.  “This decision is significant because it’s an example of Delaware’s rejection of the current trend to prioritize the wishes of the beneficiaries even if the settlor’s intent is clearly stated.”  This column discusses some of the details of this important decision and how it rejects the current legal trend that many other states are adopting. 

See Pamela Lucina and John Welsh, Delaware Court Rejects Trend to Prioritize Beneficiaries’ Wishes, Wealth Management, October 5, 2015.

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

October 6, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Right To Die Bill Signed Into Law By Governor Jerry Brown

ArticlePictureCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that will allow assisted suicide in the state for certain individuals with terminal illness. The legislation was a long time reaching this point when it finally cleared the legislature earlier this year after facing numerous challenges from religious groups particularly the Roman Catholic Church. The new law is based on the Oregon assisted suicide statute that was a nationwide first when it was passed in 1997. Proponents of the bill hail it as a victory for personal choice as it will ease the suffering of those that lack the means to travel out of state to escape their terminal disease. However, opposition groups can take solace from resent victories over similar legislation in other states as well as The United Kingdom where a right to die proposal was killed in the House of Commons. However, the statute will not come into force immediately as it is expected to be early 2016 before the condition occurs which will allow the legislation to take effect.

See Patrick McGreevy, Gov. Brown signs controversial assisted-suicide bill, Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2015.

October 6, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0)

Estate Of Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat Wants Nude Photos Taken Down

ArticlePictureThe estate of famed neo-expressionist artist Jean-Michel Basquiat recently requested to have nude photos of the artist taken down from an art website. The photos were taken before the artist's death in 1988 and shows him posing naked for his then girlfriend. The photos were displayed in an art exhibition that was dedicated to the late painter which lead to the pictures being posted online. Basquiat was a rising star, before his death from a heroine overdose, in the street art community that emerged in the 70's and 80's due to his brutalist inspired abstract artwork which focused on the struggles of the impoverished.

See Mara Siegler, Estate fighting release of Basquiat’s nude photos, Page Six, October 4, 2015.


October 6, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sotheby’s To Sell Rare Andy Warhol Mao Painting For $40 Million

Warhol MaoOn November 11, 2015, Sotheby’s will auction off a rare Andy Warhol painting of Chairman Mao.  The massive 82-by-57-inch silkscreen Mao painting that was created in 1972 is expected to earn about $40 million.  Longtime Warhol friend Bob Colacello had written in his book Holy Terror that Andy Warhol had wanted to paint “the most important figure of the 20th century.” Calacello recalls Warhol saying that he read an article in Life magazine stating that Chairman Mao was the most famous person in the world today.  At present the highest amount received for a Warhol Mao painting is $17.4 million from an auction at Christie’s New York in November 2006.

See Eileen Kinsella, Sotheby’s to Offer Rare Warhol Mao for $40 Million, Art Net News, October 1, 2015.

October 5, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Convicted Guardianship Attorney Passes Away Before Sentencing

Disgraced attorneyAn attorney that was convicted of defrauding the people that he was supposed to protect passed away before he could be sentenced.  Paul S. Kormanik was supposed to appear in Franklin County Probate Court today to answer a contempt of court charge brought on by his failure to pay back one of his victims.  Back in August Mr. Kormanik plead guilty to four counts of stealing from wards that he was the court appointed guardian of, falsifying records, and taking tax payer money.  Kormanik had bragged in the past that he had the most wards of any guardianship attorney in the State of Ohio representing over 400 wards.  The disgraced attorney was one of several guardians highlighted in an investigative report from May 2014 titled “Unguarded.” 

See Mike Wagner, Convicted guardianship lawyer dies before sentencing, The Columbus Dispatch, October 5, 2015.

October 5, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Richard Attenborough's Will Reveals Burial Plans

Article PictureLord Richard Attenborough was a legendary actor and film director with such movies as Ghandi, The Great Escape, and Jurassic Park to his credit. Recently, details of his last wishes were revealed when his will was probated and stated that he wished to be cremated and interred with his daughter and granddaughter who died in 2004 in the Indonesian tsunami. He left behind an estate worth about £1.5 million in assets located in the UK although it is not known what other non-probate and foreign assets were part of the estate. Lord Attenborough died in August at age 90 and was survived by his wife of 70 years and several children and grandchildren.

See, Richard Attenborough's last request: place my ashes with my daughter and granddaughter, The Telegraph, October 4, 2015.


October 5, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)