Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Legal Secretary Pleads Guilty To Stealing From Estates

HandcuffsAn Ohio legal secretary has pled guilty to stealing over $100,000 from several estates who's cases were being handled by her employer. The prosecution has recommended a two year sentence but the judge has not yet issued the penalties to be imposed. She might also face years of post release supervision.

See, Ex-legal secretary admits estate thefts, WHIO, June 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 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

9th Circuit Rules On Bob Marley False Endorsement Case

9th CircuitThe estate of legendary singer Bob Marley formed a company, after his death, with the intent to license his image for apparel and other merchandise. The estate issued a license for a company to have the exclusive right to use Marley's image. However, another company began producing merchandize with the image as well which triggered a lawsuit from the Marley estate. After a jury trial, damages were awarded to the estate as well as extensive attorney fees with the case being immediately appealed.

In Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, Ltd. v. A.V.E.L.A., Inc., the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the jury decision finding that the award was supported by the evidence and could not be overturned. However, it was noted by several justices that there were many meritorious defenses raised but, as they were raised for the first time on appeal, were barred from consideration. As a result, this decision does not appear to fully settle the future of using the image of deceased celebrity after death.

See Jennifer Insley-Pruitt, United States: Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals: Use Of Deceased Celebrity's Image On T-Shirts Constitutes False Endorsement Under Lanham Act, Mondaq, June 10, 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 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The IRS Has Released Proposed ABLE Account Regulations

ABLE1The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released proposed regulations that will serve the purpose of implementing a new law that authorizes states to offer ABLE accounts.  Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts are designed to help people with disabilities and their family save money while reducing or eliminating the tax burden.  This column explains some of the features of ABLE accounts and how they can be a benefit to people who are disabled.  The IRS regulations can be read here.  

See Lewis J. Saret, Guidance Under Section 529A: Qualified ABLE Programs, Wealth Strategies Journal, June 26, 2015.

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

June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Same-Sex Couples Will Now Have Equal Access To Social Security Benefits

Same sex marriageSocial Security is one of the many government programs that will be impacted by the recent Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision.  Because of Friday’s historic decision same-sex couples can now use the same benefit boosting strategies as heterosexual couples.  “In fact, the ruling could add anywhere from $20,000 to more than $250,000 in lifetime benefits to same-sex couples, says Christopher Jones, chief investment officer at Financial Engines.”  Same-sex couples would also be able to use the “file-and-suspend” claiming strategy to boost spousal benefits.  Couples should be aware of the benefits that are available for them and they should plan ahead for the future. 

See Robert Powell, Same-sex couples to get big Social Security bonus, USA Today, June 26, 2015. 

June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kirk Kerkorian Leaves Behind A $2 Billion Estate

Kirk kerkorianI have previously discussed the estate of the late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian.  The casino tycoon Kirk Kerkorian who passed away recently at the age of 98 has left behind an estate that is worth about $2 billion.  Kerkorian’s will, which was filed in Las Angeles superior court, has designated several beneficiaries who will each be receiving millions of dollars.  Anthony Mandekic, the secretary and treasurer of the Tracinda Corp., has been named in the court documents as the executor of Kerkorian’s estate.

See Casino Tycoon Left an Estate Worth More Than $2 Billion, West Side Today, June 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.

June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court Ends Conservatorship Of Zsa Zsa Gabor

Article PictureA Los Angeles County judge has ended the conservatorship of Zsa Zsa Gabor by her husband, Prince Von Anhalt, following the death of Gabor's daughter who originally brought suit. In the past, there were mutual accusations between Anhalt and the daughter that each was stealing from Gabor's estate which lead to a bitter feud and several court filings. The estate appears to consist largely of a Bel-Air mansion that is scheduled to be sold in September 2018 in order to allow the actress, who has suffered from severe health complications recently, to likely die in her own home.

See Colleen Park, Judge ends Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband’s conservatorship, My News LA, June 4, 2015.

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

June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Marilyn Monroe’s Grave Marker Sold For $212,500

MonroeThe grave marker of the late celebrity icon Marilyn Monroe was recently sold at the Hollywood Legends auction for $212,500.  Originally, the grave marker from Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Las Angeles was estimated to be worth $2,000-$4,000 dollars.  The auction also sold off other personal items that were attributed to Marilyn Monroe like the dress that she wore in the movie ‘Something’s Gotta Give.’

See Marilyn Monroe’s grave marker sells for $212,500 at Julien’s Auctions ‘Hollywood Legends’ sale, Art Daily, June 29, 2015.  

June 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Healthy 24-Year-Old Belgian Woman Will Be Allowed To Die By Euthanasia

Belgian womanIn Belgium, a 24-year old woman with no life threatening diseases is going to be allowed to die with physician assistance.  The woman, who is known as ‘Laura,’ told doctors “life, that’s not for me,” and that she “wanted to die since childhood.”  According to statistics the number of Belgians opting for euthanasia has increased by 27% over the last 12 months. 

See Carri-Ann Taylor, Healthy 24-year-old told she can die by euthanasia, Metro, June 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.

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

A Long Shot Way Around Estate Taxes?

Supreme Court BuildingNow that the Supreme Court has granted the right to marry regardless of sex, some are speculating that this could be used as an end around to estate taxes. For example, a dying individual of the same sex of an heir may marry the heir to pass on to the "spouse" a large estate, tax free. However, rules and regulations will likely be promulgated in order to combat abuse of the new marriage laws but it remains to be seen if they will come in time to prevent someone from trying avoid tax this way.

See Vel Nirtist, Has SCOTUS Created a Way to Get Around the Estate Tax?, American Thinker, June 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.

June 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Tax, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hepburn Heirs Continue Estate Battle 20 Years After Mother's Death

Article PictureThe two sons of legendary actress Audrey Hepburn have been reported to be battling each other other a storage unit full of their late mothers personal belongings. The two sons were born ten years apart and from different fathers and have a history of disagreement. A judge is expected to divide the items as they were not specifically covered in the will.

See Derrick Bryson Taylor, Audrey Hepburn’s kids still fighting over her stuff, New York Post, May 27, 2015.

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

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