Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, July 18, 2014

Political Commentary on the Estate Tax With a Dash of Humor

John OliverJohn Oliver addressed the politically hot topic of income inequality through his combination of news, commentary, and comedy on ‘Last Week Tonight’ on Sunday. At about minute seven of the segment he directly addressed the estate tax.

See Patrick Kevin Day, John Oliver Tackles Income Inequality on ‘Last Week Tonight’, Los Angeles Times, July 14, 2014.

Special thanks to Michael Booth (Chicago Estate Planning Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 18, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Tax, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Minnesota Addresses Thefts by Court-Appointed Guardians

MinnesotaAfter the discovery of abuse by court-appointed guardians in Minnesota, the state audited 24 random accounts handled by Alternate Decision Makers, Inc. The findings uncovered problems with ten accounts ranging from missing documents to possible indications of theft. Allegations of theft by the guardians include unreasonably high fees accessed, missing property, and personal items sold off after the protected person died. The suspicious accounts discovered by auditors are being sent to judges for review and to be remedied.

See James Eli Shiffer, Conservator’s Thefts Prompted 24 State Audits, Star Tribune, July 14, 2014.

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

July 15, 2014 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Guardianship, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Church of England Supports Review of Assisted Dying Law

Church of EnglandAs I have previously discussed, the House of Lords is currently considering legislation that would change the assisted dying laws. If passed, the new law would allow doctors to assist terminally ill patients to die through the use of prescription drugs. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, sent shock waves through the community when he wrote an article for a newspaper in support of passing an assisted dying law. The church is not officially advocating the new legislation, but rather expressing support for a review of the issues surrounding the assisted dying debate through a royal commission.

See John Bingham, Church of England Calls For Review on Assisted Dying, The Telegraph, July 12, 2014.

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

July 14, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, New Legislation, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Indiana and Wisconsin Same-Sex Marriage Cases to be Appealed Together

Marriage CaseWisconsin’s general has filed to appeal the decision by a federal judge that struck down Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban. The case has been combined with a similar case from Indiana, and the United States Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit has ordered that briefs be filed for the combined case by August 4, 2014 and has not yet scheduled oral arguments.

See Associated Press, Appeals Court Joins Indiana, Wisconsin Gay Marriage Cases, WSBT, July 11, 2014.

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

July 13, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Issued in Denver & Boulder

FlagAfter the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban in June, Boulder's County Clerk, Hillary Hall, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Colorado’s Attorney General brought suit to stop Hall from issueing licenses and claiming that they are invalid under state law. A Boulder district judge denied the AG’s request since Hall, while engaging in civil disobediance, is not causing the state any harm. Now, the Denver County Clerk has begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as well.

See Sunnivie Brydum, Denver Now Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses, Advocate, July 10, 2014.

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

July 12, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Judge Postpones Ruling on Powell Estate

Powells

On Tuesday, the family of Josh Powell again asked a 3rd District judge to reinstate them as trustees of Josh and Susan Powell’s estate. 

The families of Josh Powell and his missing wife Susan are arguing over who should be selected as trustees and beneficiaries of two legal entities containing the couple’s assets: a conservatorship and a trust.  Together, the trust and conservatorship hold around $2.3 million and continues to accumulate interest.  Chuck Cox is the conservator for his daughter, Susan, and used that authority to change the terms of the trust.  Terrica and Alina Powell, Josh’s mother and sister, allege the terms of those agencies were illegally changed to remove them as trustees or beneficiaries. 

Judge L.A. Dever denied a motion from the Powell family attorney requiring the Coxes to post a surety bond to safeguard against mismanagement.  The judge said there was no evidence Chuck Cox had mishandled any holdings.   

See Nate Carlisle, Utah Judge Postpones Ruling on Susan Powell Estate Dispute, The Salt Lake Tribune, July 10, 2014.

July 11, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Battle Branding Bourbon

John wayne

Last week John Wayne’s heirs filed a lawsuit against Duke University over the family’s right to market bottles of bourbon branded with the late movie star’s nickname, Duke.  Lawyers for the university contend that allowing the Wayne estate to use the name could cause confusion and “diminish, dilute, and tarnish” the value of the name, for which both parties hold trademarks. 

In the lawsuit, the family’s lawyers make various arguments including the fact that “Duke University does not own the word ‘Duke’ in all contests and purposes.  Duke is a common word that has been used for centuries in a wide array of commercial and other applications wholly independent of Duke University.  Yet by the actions alleged herein, Duke University seems to think it owns the word ‘Duke’ for all purposes and applications.” 

The proposed bourbon label would feature an image of Wayne holding a rifle with “Duke” ornamented over it in bold letters with the phrase, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

See Associated Press, John Wayne’s Heirs Sue Duke University for Right to Market ‘Duke’ Bourbon, Daily News, July 9, 2014.

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

July 11, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Donald Sterling’s Emotional Trial Testimony

SterlingAs I have previously discussed, Donald and Shelly Sterling are currently in court battling over the sale of the Clippers and the decision by doctors on Donald’s mental fitness. When Donald took the stand on Tuesday, he was anything but a cooperate witness for opposing counsel. He berated the 85-year-old attorney, asking him about is legal experience and criticizing his questions. He also went after the doctors involved in him being declared mentally unfit and the NBA. His angry outbursts were interrupted at least once with crying, but after regaining his composer he continued his angry rant, which lasted nearly an hour.

See Nathan Fenno, Donald Sterling Verbally Attacks NBA, Lawyer in Trial Testimony, Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2014.

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

July 10, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New Bill Replaces 'Husband' and 'Wife' With 'Spouse'

Gay protest

“Husband” and “wife” have been deleted from California’s marriage law under a bill signed into law Monday by Governor Jerry Brown.  The terms will be replaced with “spouse” in an effort to accommodate same-sex marriage, which became legal in the state last year.  The bill takes effect January 1st and reflects the legality of gay marriage after a decade of litigation.  The law further removes limits on recognizing same-sex marriages performed out of state. 

See California Governor Signs Bill Replacing Words ‘Husband’ and ‘Wife’ in State Law, Fox News, July 7, 2014. 

July 9, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Idaho Cemetery Prohibits Gay Partners Burial

CemeteryMadelynn Taylor, 74, filed a civil rights lawsuit Monday after the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery refused to allow her to bury the ashes of her late wife.  Mrs. Taylor filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boise after she tried to make advance arrangements last year to have her ashes buried with Jean Mixner, whom she married in California in 2008 when gay marriage was legal. 

While federal veterans cemeteries allow the spouses of gay veterans to be interred, the Idaho cemetery (owned and operated by the state) does not.  Mrs. Taylor’s situation is “among the most extreme examples of the harm caused by state laws that deny respect to the marriages of same-sex couples. . . Denying these important protections to committed couples is not simply unjust, it is needlessly cruel.”

See Rebecca Boone, Vet Sues After Burial With Gay Partner is Denied, Associated Press, July 8, 2014.

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

July 9, 2014 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)