Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Attorney Who Embezzled $115,000 Sentenced To One Day In Jail

JudgmentAn 84 year old Cleveland Attorney who pleaded guilty to stealing $115,000 from a client’s estate has been sentenced to serve one day in jail. Gerald Cooper, who practiced law for 57 years, originally could have faced a 15 to 21 month sentence. The attorney was given a lighter sentence due to his age and health problems. The article indicates that Cooper has colon cancer and is starting to experience signs of dementia. Even though he will only serve a day in jail, this conviction does represent a blemish on Cooper’s record and reputation.

See Eric Heisig, Cleveland attorney who stole $115,000 from client’s estate gets one day in jail, Cleveland, July 29, 2015.

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

July 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Malpractice, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Regulations On Valuation Discounts May Be Close To Publication

TreasuryRumors are circulating that the Treasury Department is going to publish new regulations that will deal with planning for chapter 14 family businesses and entities.  In this edition of Capital Letters Ronald C. Aucutt discusses the valuation discount regulations that will affect the chapter 14 statutory structure.  The Treasury Department would like more durable rules for disregarding certain statutory restrictions.  The article discusses how the greenbook provides an outline for what type of regulations the Treasury is expected to release.  There will probably be intense reactions to the new regulations and it likely take many years for a final version to be implemented.  Many people will try to challenge or circumvent the new rules.  Others feel that the new proposed regulations will offer a more holistic approach to deductions. 

See Ronald C. Aucutt, Anticipated Valuation Discount Regulations, The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, July 20, 2015.

Special thanks to Bob Moore (Wolf & Moore, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention. 

July 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Whitney Houston’s Will Could Have Provided Daughter With More Protection

BrownI have previously discussed the passing of Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of the late musician Whitney Houston.  Some estate planning attorneys are now putting forward the argument that Whitney Houston’s Will could have provided her daughter with more protection.  Whitney Houston’s Will was 19 years old when the 48 year old musician passed away in 2012.  Estate planners argue that the singer’s Will should have specifically mentioned Bobbi Kristina Brown instead of leaving money to a trust to benefit “any children.”  A revocable living trust could have provided more control over how the estate could have been distributed to Kristina Brown. 

See Liz Skinner, Could Bobbi Kristina Brown have been better protected by Whitney Houston’s estate?, Investment News, July 28, 2015. 

July 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Daughter Of Kirk Kerkorian Seeks Guardian For Will Contest

WillsThe daughter of the late casino magnate Kirk Kerkorian was in court recently seeking to have her mother appointed guardian so that a will contest may proceed. The judge in the case denied the request citing an alleged history of abandonment by her mother and a lack of truthfulness in court proceedings in the past. Attorneys for the daughter will now seek the appointment of an independent guardian and are expected to nominate the former conservator of Brittany Spear's estate. This case is further complicated by the fact that the daughter may not be the biological offspring of Kerkorian, which is supported by his denials of paternity, though he did help raise the child. A hearing on an alternative guardian is expected to be held soon.

See Debbie L. Skyler, Billionaire’s ex not ‘credible’ as advocate for daughter in probate battle, LA.com, July 28, 2015.

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

July 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More Senior Citizens Are Moving To States With Lenient Marijuana Policies

Medical marijuanaA growing number of senior citizens are choosing to move to states that have lax marijuana laws.  There are currently twenty-three states that have legalized medical marijuana and it is legal for recreational use in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.  It is difficult to obtain exact figures on the number of senior citizens choosing to move to a state because of its marijuana policies.  Professor Michael Stoll at the University of California, Las Angeles, cited to a study showing Oregon to be a top moving destination in 2014.  The same study also listed Colorado as a top recent retirement destination.

See Chris Taylor, Seniors Are Seeking Out States Where Marijuana Is Legal, Time, July 22, 2015.

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

July 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vincent Lambert Case Fuels French Right-To-Die Debate

VincentAn emotional right-to-die case is fueling a major debate in France over the issue of death with dignity.  Vincent Lambert is a former psychiatric nurse who became tetraplegic after suffering in a horrible car accident seven years ago.  He is now being kept alive in a vegetative state, and a dispute has broken out between Lambert’s parents who want to keep him alive and his wife who claims her husband would have wanted his feeding tube removed.  This case is bringing attention to a debate that is happening all over the world.  Similar debates are taking place in the United States.  For example, the State of California is currently considering right-to-die legislation.  As the population continues to age this issue is only going to become more prevalent.

See John Lichfield, Vincent Lambert Case: France gripped by ‘right to die’ of tetraplegic former nurse and attempt to ‘kidnap him from his hospital bed,’ The Independent, July 27, 2015.

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

July 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

For-Profit Hospice Care Centers Booming Financially

Old WomenThe idea of hospice care, when the focus shifts from keeping a person alive to making sure they pass away with a minimum of pain and maximum of comfort, has been increasing in popularity in recent years. But what started as a loose network of non-profits offering the service out of compassion has now turned into a massive money generator with many nationwide hospice chains becoming the dominant players.

This change has not been met with joy in all circles as the corporatization of death has lead to accusations of substandard care and fraud as companies stop at nothing to reach new clients. The problem, as the critics point out, is that Medicare pays for almost all hospice care at a flat rate which has encouraged companies to bring in patients that are relatively healthy in order to milk the daily rate. While the major hospice chains deny wrong doing, they have spent large amounts of money to settle court cases in recent years and are being investigated by the federal government. Recent changes have been proposed that would restrain the worst abuses of the system but, as of now, no new regulations have been formally issued.

See Ben Hallman & Nicky Forster, The Business Of Dying Has Never Been More Lucrative, Huffpost Business, July 24, 2015.

July 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0)

UK Residents May Now Name Heirs For Facebook Account

FacebookFacebook likes to be at the forefront of all things social media and has continued that trend with the introduction of the ability to name an heir to an account. This feature, currently available in the UK only, allows the named person to take limited control over the account, such as the ability to accept friend request, in order to keep the profile active. However, the caretaker will not be able to remove previous post by the deceased or use the private message feature of the account. This change builds on the memorial feature, around since 2007, which allowed users to request that a deceased persons page be frozen but kept alive. This move is likely the herald of a wave of change as the issue of digital heirs moves into the forefront of estate planning challenges.

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

July 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Houston Estate Could Be Contested By Multiple Claimants

Article PictureWhen Whitney Houston died, no one expected that a battle over her estate would emerge as everything had been left to the her daughter Bobbi Kristina. However, tragedy struck and with Bobbi Kristina's death there is likely to be a battle over the estimated $20 million estate that is currently held in trust. Under Whitney Houston's will, the estate passes to her mother and brothers in the event that her daughter dies but it will not likely be as simple as that. Any money already distributed to Bobbi Kristina will likely pass to her father, Bobby Brown, as her sole heir, although Brown is not likely to have a claim on the trust corpus. But the greatest threat for an estate fight comes from her boyfriend, Nick Gordon, who claims that he and Bobbi were married although he has yet to produce any documentation of the marriage. I will keep you updated as this story develops.

See  Maria Puente, Who will inherit Whitney Houston's millions?, USA Today, July 27, 2015.

July 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Deceased Millionaire Mauric Laboz Imposes Rules On Inheritance

LabozMaurice Loboz was a wealthy New York real estate investor who recently passed away.  The deceased tycoon left a combined $20 million fortune to his two daughters, but in his Will he has imposed strict conditions.  The daughters who are 17 and 21 years old will be able to receive their inheritance when they turn 35.  Each of them would be able to receive early bonuses if they follow a number of conditions like going to a good university or waiting until marriage before having kids.  The deceased millionaire’s wife, who he was in the process of divorcing before his death, is currently contesting the Will.  The remainder of the estate is going to be given to charitable organizations like the Michael J Fox foundation.

See Kelly Mclaughlin, Tycoon's daughters must wait ten years to inherit his $20m fortune - but can earn early bonuses by marrying early, having children in wedlock and going to a good school, The Daily Mail, July 27, 2015. 

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