Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Molestation Case Against Michael Jackson Continues, For Now

JacksonAs I have previously discussed, the estate of Michael Jackson is currently entangled in a lawsuit involving allegations of child molestation. Wade Robson, who testified in 2005 that Jackson did not molest him, brought a lawsuit last year alleging that he was molested by Jackson over a seven year period in the 90's. The Jackson estate attempted to have Jackson, who is referred to in the pleadings as “Doe 1,” removed as a defendant in the case. The motion was denied, but the judge expressed that the pleadings would have to be amended and more detail would have to be added for the case against Jackson to survive.

See City News Service, Judge Denies Motion in Jackson Estate Case, L.A. Watts Times, Oct. 2, 2014.

October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scientific Backing For Near-Death Experiences

ScienceResearch out of the University of Southampton, located in Southampton, England, reveals that consciousness may continue for a short time after death. Scientists discovered that 40% of the survivors in their study of over 2,000 individuals who were declared dead for a period of time, described being aware of the experience. One individual in the study was able to describe the actions by medical staff in detail during the time he was considered dead, and is believed to have had conscious awareness for as long as three minutes.

See The Telegraph, Largest Study Into Near-Death Experiences Discovers Awareness May continue Even After the Brain Shuts Down, National Post, Oct. 7, 2014.

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, 2014 in Current Affairs, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Effect of SCOTUS Denial to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases

Gavel-marriageAs I have previously discussed, the Supreme Court of the United States decided yesterday to not hear any of the same-sex marriage ban appeals cases. This decision has had direct and indirect effects on the bans of many states. A description of these changes for each affected state can be found here.

See Tom McCarthy, US Same-Sex Marriage Decision: A Stat-by-State Guide to When Bans Have Fallen, The Guardian, Oct. 6. 2014.

October 7, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Supreme Court Denies Pending Same-Sex Marriage Cases

Supreme court

Today the United States Supreme Court denied review in all five pending same-sex marriage cases.  This move proved to be a major surprise, suggesting the justices are not going to intervene in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban. 

The move will almost immediately increase the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 24, along with the District of Columbia. 

In December 2012, the justices agreed to hear a constitutional challenge to a same-sex marriage ban, California’s Proposition 8.  However, a majority of the justices said it was not properly before the court.  This indicated that the Supreme Court might have wanted to stay out of the tussle until the number of states allowing same-sex marriage was much higher. 

See Adam Liptak, Supreme Court Clears Way for Gay Marriage in 5 States, The New York Times, Oct. 6, 2014.

October 6, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anticipated Vote on Mitochondrial Replacement In UK May Be Delayed

DNAAs I have previously discussed, the UK is considering legalizing a procedure called mitochondrial replacement, which is used to prevent mitochondrial disease in babies born to mothers who carry the genes for the disease. It works by replacing genes in the mother's egg with those of another woman that does not carry the mitochondrial disease gene. Babies born from this procedure have three genetic parents.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, a government watchdog group, announced in July that its research found the procedure “not unsafe” and gave approval for Members of Parliament to vote on whether to make the procedure legal. However, opponents, including many scientists, are asking for the vote to be delayed until further research can be done.

See Jonathan Petre & Stephen Adams, Bid to Delay ‘Three Parent Babies’ Through IVF as Tests Find Fears Could Suffer Reduced Fertility, Learning Difficulties and Even Cancer, Daily Mail, Oct. 4, 2014.

October 6, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

IRS Changes Tax Amount Jackson Estate Owes

TaxAs I have previously discussed, Michael Jackson's estate has been in a valuation battle with the IRS over the value of Jackson's estate and amount due to the IRS in taxes. The IRS has amended their original claim for the amount due by the estate to almost $731 million. The new amount increases the taxes by $29 million from the original calculations. The IRS attributes the new figure to a previous miscalculation of what percentage of master recordings were owned by Jackson at his death

See Janet Novack, IRS: We Made a Mistake Valueing Michael Jackson's Estate, Forbes, Oct. 3, 2014.

October 5, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hendrix Movie Released

MovieAs I have previously discussed, John Ridley's biopic of musician Jimi Hendrix experienced a tough start when the Hendrix estate refused to authorize the movie or release the music rights. The film moved ahead with production and Waddy Wachtel provided the vocals for the film. The movie had previous releases over the last year around the world, and 'Jimi: All Is By My Side' was released last week in the U.S. with Andre Benjamin of OutKast playing the role of Hendrix.

See Steven Rae, 'Jimi: All Is By My Side', Hendrix Before the Deluge, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 26, 2014.

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

October 4, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Supreme Court Declines Action on Same-Sex Marriage Cases

Supreme court

The Supreme Court declined to take action Thursday on requests to decide whether there is a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry. 

Although the Court accepted eleven new cases, it gave no indication about petitions from Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Wisconsin, where federal appeals courts have struck down state bans on same-sex marriages.   However, there is plenty of time for the Court to act on the question and rule on the issue during the new term that beings on Monday and will end next June. 

Experts who study the Court say they expect it could be some time before the justices decide whether to hear the issue, although most think it would be impossible for the court to pass up.  If the court does take up the question, it must then decide which of the cases provides the best vehicle for a decision. 

See Robert Barnes, Supreme Court Takes No Action on Same-Sex Marriage Cases, For Now, The Washington Post, Oct. 2, 2014.    

October 3, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Family Goes to Court to Have Teen Declared Alive

Gavel2As I have previously discussed, last year the disagreement between hospital doctors and the family of Jahi McMath illustrated the difficult legal issues surrounding a determination of brain dead. The doctors were successful in getting a legal judgment that the 13-year-old was legally brain dead after suffering from cardiac arrest during a routine tonsil surgery. However, her family were able to get an injunction that prevented the doctors from ending life sustaining measures, and had her moved to a private medical facility where they have been financially responsible for her care. McMath's family is now returning to court, seeking an order to have her declared alive.

See Annabel Grossman, Family of Oakland Teenager Declared Brain Dead 10 Months Ago Petition Court for Her to be Declared Alive Again, Daily Mail, Oct. 2, 2014.

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

October 3, 2014 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Caregiver Murder Case Goes to Jury


On Tuesday jurors began deliberating the fate of a caretaker accused of stealing more than $500,000 from an 88-year-old Rancho Bernardo man before killing him so that she could become independently wealthy. 

Denise Goodwin, 47, is charged with twelve counts, including murder, and also faces a special allegation for financial gain in the death of Gerald Rabourn.  In his closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Bill Mitchell told jurors that Goodwin was a “predator disguised as a caregiver who targeted elderly men with money and no family nearby.”  Mr. Rabourn trusted the defendant and allowed her access to his bank account after she convinced him that she could help him with his finances.  “Gerald Rabourn was sucked in and taken to the cleaners . . . [Goodwin] had found her golden goose.” 

When the defendant obtained the money she used it to buy property in Temecula, telling people she had gotten an inheritance from her father.  Yet, Goodwin got her name added to Mr. Rabourn’s account and changed the direct deposit so that she could gain access to his $3,000-a-month pension check.  Moreover, Goodwin signed a quit-claim deed on Rabourn’s home and listed it for $381,000 and later took in the profits from the sale.

See Kelly Wheeler, Jury Deliberations Begin in Caregiver Murder Case, ABC 10 News, Sept. 30, 2014.

October 1, 2014 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)