Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

British Man Use Friends Ashes To Catch Monster Fish

DeathRon Hopper was an avid fisherman and, as he approached retirement, he dreamed of being able to travel the world with his friends exploring exotic locals in the hunt for the big catch. But it was not to be. At the age of 64 he died of cancer shortly before a big trip to Thailand that was planned with his long time angling companions. Yet he managed to make the trip anyway. Shortly before his death his friends proposed using half of his ashes, with the rest to spread by Hopper's wife in the Caribbean, as part of a bait mix in their quest to reel in the giant Siamese Carp. The idea was met with approval and when his two friends made their trek to southeast Asia he came along as well just not in the way everyone imagined just a few years before. And, in a fitting end to the story, the ashes proved to be the perfect bait when his compadres caught what would have been a world record catch. While, no doubt, everyone wished Hopper would have been able to be there in the flesh it was still a fitting end to the journey of his mortal remains.

See, Fishermen use dead friend's ashes as bait to catch 180-pound carp, Fox News, April 28, 2016.

April 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Judge Rules That Sumner Redstone’s Competency Trial Will Remain Open To Public

Sumner redstoneA California judge ruled on Wednesday that the trial over Sumner Redstone’s advance healthcare directive will remain open to the public.  The lawsuit brought by Mr. Redstone’s ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, centers around the 92-year-old billionaire’s mental competency.  Herzer claims that Mr. Redstone lacked the mental capacity to remove her from his advance healthcare directive, and she is asking to be reinstated as the person in charge of the media mogul’s healthcare.  This case is set to be tried on May 6.  Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan did leave open the possibility that some testimony could still be shielded from the public.  Mr. Redstone’s medical records will have to be carefully examined and the information entered into evidence will be limited. 

See Lisa Richwine, Judge rejects Redstone bid to close part of competency trial, Mediacorp News Group, April 28, 2016.

April 28, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prince’s Siblings: Thieves in the Temple?

There once was a popstar named Prince.
He died and we’ve looked ever since
For a will to instruct us how
To divide this massive cash cow.

People looked high, people looked low.
Was there a will? Answer still no.
His sister rushed into the breach
And sought immediate relief.

She asked not for power or money,
But for a familiar trustee
To protect the diamonds and pearls
Until the true facts are unfurled.

So tabloids let’s NOT go crazy
As journalism, that’s lazy.
Go search for lost kids if you must
Or better a will under dust.

Special thanks to Prof. Frederick E. Vars (University of Alabama School of Law) for sharing his composition with the blog!

April 28, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Prince’s Sister Files Emergency Motion For Appointment Of Special Administrator

Tyka nelsonI have previously discussed the fact that Prince passed away without a will and that his estate will pass via Minnesota intestacy laws.  Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson recently filed an emergency motion in the Carver County District Court to appoint special administrator to gather and protect the legendary musician’s assets.  Lawyers and intellectual property and estate planning experts predict that it will take years to determine the value of Prince’s massive estate.  Prince’s estate includes physical assets like land and equipment, and it also includes the intellectual property he owned from his lyrics and songs as well as trademarks that relate to his image and brand.  These assets could be worth up to $100 million dollars and could pay out for many years to come.  The full text of the petition filed by Tyka Nelson in the Carver County District Court can be read here

See Dan Browning,Without a will, it could take years to estimate Prince’s estate, Star Tribune, April 27, 2016.

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

April 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trust Fund Baby Wanted A Few Dollars More

HanduffsWendy Jean Roberts was in need. That fact drove her to the state of Minnesota seeking public assistance where she swore, under penalty of perjury, that the assets listed in her application represented her worldly possessions. She claimed $1500 in her checking account but, it turns out, that need was not so great as she lead on. Because three and a half years later, the state discovered there was a $2 million trust fund paying out to Roberts more than $60,000 per year while also seeing the corpus grow during that period. In fact, the same month she claimed only $1500 to her name she received a almost $5000 from the trust. Over the course of the scam Roberts received about $30,000 worth of food stamps and free medial care. She is now facing felony theft charges although no trial date has yet to be set. In any event, this is going to cost Roberts much more than the $30,000 she scammed which just goes to show that some risk are not worth taking.

See Richard Chin, Maplewood woman with $2M trust fund was welfare cheat, charges say, Twin Cities Pioneer Press, April 26, 2016.

April 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prince Of Wills He Was Not, The Crown Will Pass Via Intestacy

ArticlePictureThe death of the Prince, one of the most influential musicians over the past several decades, shocked the world in what has been a graveyard year for rock royalty. With an estimated net worth somewhere north of $300 million, the status of his estate plans quickly became a question most curious to many suddenly interested parties. Now an answer appears to be at hand with probate filings revealing that the musician did not leave behind a will or any other estate plan. As it stands now, the singer's sister Tyka Nelson appears set to be the administrator of the estate due in no small part to her status as his full sister. A host of half-siblings were named as interested parties who stand to inherit through under Minnesota's intestacy statute. However, reports have emerged that Prince's home, Paisley Park, could be turned into a Graceland style tourist destination with the cooperation of the family which would indicate the would be heirs are already working together.

See Maria Puente, Prince died without a will, sister says, USA Today, April 26, 2016.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn for bringing this article to my attention.

April 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Doubt Grows About Existence Of Will For Prince

ArticlePictureThe unexpected death of legendary musician Prince continues to send shock-waves around the world as fans and friends alike cope with his passing. Sales of his records and movies have skyrocketed during that time including driving his mid 80's film Purple Rain to number two on iTunes. However, despite having a huge business empire, it is growing increasingly doubtful that Prince left behind a will of any sort. Friends of the songwriter have indicated that he genuinely believed that he was not going to die any time soon which lead him to not make preparations for his estate. While this belief seems to fit Prince's well known mercurial nature, he was also known as an avid business manager of his properties which would make many assume he created a post-death plan. But the disbelief of death is not uncommon so the world will know what plans were made for his passing when probate is opened on the estate sometime in the coming week.

See Roger Friedman, Prince Insider: “So Far, No One Has Presented a Will. He Thought He’d Live 1,999 Years”, Showbiz 411, April 24, 2016.

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

April 25, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

New Study Reveals The Yearly Cost Increase In Nursing Home Care

Nursing HomeNursing home care is expensive, that fact is not in doubt in any way, shape, or form. However, a new study has revealed how much that cost increases from year to year as well as the differences between various regions of the country. The price for private and shared rooms increased on average %2 from 2014 to 2015 which fits with the increase found in other years. In addition, a wide range of cost was found across the country with rates in several Northeastern states being over $135,000 on average although those found in the south, such as Texas, having an average that does not top $60,000. The authors attribute the disparity between regions to the cost of labor which tends to be much lower in the south and midwest compared to the northern and western states. In any event, when planning for long term assisted living be sure to take yearly cost increases into account or risk finding any carefully planned budgets being broken in a few years time.

See Emily Mongan, Average cost of nursing home care rises 2% annually, Lincoln report shows, McKnights, April 21, 2016.

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

April 24, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Certain Genetic Tests Will Be Reimbursed By Medicare

Genetic testingMedicare will now offer reimbursements for cancer patients who receive genetic testing for certain hereditary cancer-related disorders.  This expanded coverage of genetic testing will give cancer patients the tools they need to decide on different treatment options.  It will also provide family members and relatives with information about possible risks they might have.  More genetic information can help people identify hereditary risks and to take early preventative steps.  As the population continues to age issues relating to what Medicare covers is going to take on more importance in public discussions.  Lawmakers looking for support from senior citizens will need to discuss their plans for tackling these Medicare issues.  Cancer is a deadly disease that impacts the lives of millions of information and the information that can be obtained from this type of genetic testing will give people the tools to help fight this disease.

See Elizabeth Leis Newman, Medicare to reimburse certain genetic tests, McKnight’s, April 22, 2016.

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

April 24, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Living Trust Mills Are Something Consumers Should Be Wary Of

Living trustThere are more baby boomers who are reaching retirement age and living trusts have become a hot estate planning commodity.  This article discusses the need for consumers to be wary of living trust mills that market themselves as estate planning specialists but instead churn out boilerplate documents for a high fee.  The living trust is a complex legal document and attempting to go with a one-size-fits all approach will typically not go over well.  Living trust mills typically make contact with consumer by phone or mail and many people get drawn into the process.  People should be very careful about avoiding these types of products.  It is a good idea to meet with an experienced and competent estate planning professional who can guide consumers through the process of creating a personal living trust. 

See Mark Huffman, Consumers cautioned about ‘living trust mills’, Consumer Affairs, April 22, 2016.

April 22, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)