Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Louisiana Judge Upholds Gay Marriage Ban

Louisiana statehouse

On Wednesday a federal judge in Louisianan upheld a state ban on same-sex marriage, writing that “any right to same-sex marriage is not yet so entrenched as to be fundamental,” and that gay marriage was “inconceivable until very recently.” 

In his ruling U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman stated that the regulation of marriage was left up to the states and the democratic process; that no fundamental right was being violated by the ban; and “[Louisiana] has a legitimate interest . . . whether obsolete in the opinion of some, or not, in the opinion of others . . . in linking children to an intact family formed by their two biological parents.”

This ruling runs counter to other federal decisions across the country in recent months.  Since the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage act last year, there have been a total of twenty-one consecutive federal court decisions finding that same-sex marriage bands were unconstitutional. 

The case, Robicheaux v. Caldwell, was brought by the Forum for Equality, a Louisiana based gay rights group, and seven same-sex couples seeking to have their marriages validated in the state. 

See Ryan J. Reilly, Louisiana Gay Marriage Ban Upheld By Federal Judge, Huffington Post, Sept. 3, 2014.

See also Campell Robertson, Federal Judge, Bucking Trend, Affirms Ban on Same-Sex Marriages in Louisiana, The New York Times, Sept. 3, 2014.

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

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

 

September 5, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Royal Slice of Cake Purchased in Online Auction

Wedding CakeLast week, a Los Angeles auction house sold a piece of cake that is from the royal wedding cake of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The 33-year-old cake slice was purchased online for $1,375.

See Associated Press, Slice of Princess Diana’s Wedding Cake Auctioned, CBS, Aug. 29, 2014.

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

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Colorado's Marijuana Taxes Up In Smoke

Marijuana

Colorado is one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use.  Not only has Colorado propelled legalized marijuana into the mainstream, but it is also trumpeting revenue from the 27.9% in taxes.  However, the $33.5 million Colorado projected to collect in the first six months of 2014 was too enthusiastic.  “It’s now the next morning, so to speak, and Colorado is missing $21.5M in pot taxes!”

One explanation is that with such high taxes, many smokers are still buying on the black market.  In fact, only about 60% of purchases in Colorado will be through legal channels due to prices.   

Despite its opponents, the Colorado tax on marijuana has been upheld notwithstanding claims that paying it amounts to self-incrimination violating the Fifth Amendment.  Plaintiffs want the taxes on recreational pot outlawed, reasoning that they require businesses and consumers to implicate themselves in federal crimes.  Although the plaintiffs have failed to get an injunction, the lawsuit challenging taxes will continue as the stakes are high.

See Robert W. Wood, $21.5 Million In Marijuana Taxes Just Went Up in Smoke, Forbes, Sept. 2, 2014.

September 4, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Prince Harry and Prince William to Inherit Diana’s Wedding Dress

Princess_Diana_wedding_dressAs I have previously discussed, Prince Harry will inherit more than £10 million this month when he turns 30. Even though his share from his mother’s estate is equal to the share received by Prince William, Prince Harry will receive more due to the interest that has accrued since Prince William received his share in 2012. Additionally, Prince William and Prince Harry will receive other items such as Princess Diana’s wedding dress, which has been cared for by her brother until both princes reach age 30.

See Corey Charlton, Prince Harry to Inherit £10 Million Share of Diana’s Fortune When he Turns 30 Next Month, Aug. 31, 2014.

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

September 4, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rosa Parks’ Estate Sale

Rosa ParksOver 8,000 items and artifacts from the life of civil rights activists Rosa Parks may soon be displayed in a museum and viewable by scholars and the public. The Buffett Foundation is now the owner of the collection, which it purchased at Parks’ estate sale. The Foundation has not yet decided which museum or institution will be chosen to house the collection. The proceeds from the estate sale will be split amongst Parks’ 15 heirs and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.

See Bill Laitner, Rosa Parks’ Heirs and Institute Gain From Estate Sale, Detroit Free Press, Sept. 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.

September 3, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Children With Three Biological Parents

DNAAlana Saarinen seems like an average teenager, but her DNA is not. She has DNA from three different people. Between 30 and 50 people around the world share Saarinen’s unique situation of having three biological parents. This is due to a procedure called cytoplasmic transfer, which is an infertility treatment that was done in the late 1990s and early 2000s, before the FDA requested the clinics to stop the treatment in 2002. The procedure involved using the cytoplasm from a female donor and transferring it to the mother’s egg prior to the egg being fertilized by the father’s sperm.

The practice resulted in healthy babies being born to parents that had spent years trying to conceive a child, like Saarinen’s parents who had tried various methods to conceive for 10 years. But it also had possible side effects and raised ethical and safety issues, which concerned the FDA. Now, the UK is considering legalizing a similar procedure called mitochondrial replacement, which would be used to treat and cure genetic diseases. The debate on whether Parliament should pass the proposed legislation is stirring much controversy and debate on the issue.

See Charlotte Pritchard, The Girl With Three Biological Parents, BBC, Aug. 31, 2014.

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

September 3, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Murdering Mother Could Inherit $1 Million

Nicole diggs

A special education teacher who was accused of killing her disabled 8-year-old daughter by withholding food and medical care could inherit almost $1 million form the girl’s trust fund. 

Alayah Savarese, who was killed in 2012, was the beneficiary of a trust fund created from the settlement of a malpractice suit stemming form complications during her birth.  Although the indictment does not allege the trust fund was a motive, Nicole Diggs’ attorney says prosecutors are implying her client “somehow disposed of her daughter in order to obtain the money.”  Prosecutors say Alayah was not provided with daily food, did not receive medical tratement, was often left alone and kept away from school.  She suffered lacerations, bruises and welts from the neglect.

If convicted, Diggs would not disqualify from inheriting her daughter’s fortune because she is not charged with intending to kill the girl.  Many states have slayer statutes to prevent profiting from crime, however, New York courts have generally held that without intent, a homicide does not disqualify someone from inheriting from a victim.  “If it’s unintentional, then the person can still inherit. . . . But the facts of this case are very unsettling and under the circumstances, it doesn’t seem correct that would happen.” 

See The Associated Press, Mom Charged in Girl’s Death Could Get Trust Fund, Monroe News, Sept. 1, 2014.

September 2, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lou Reed’s Executors Request Surprisingly Low Payment

Lou ReedAs I have previously discussed, the estate of Velvet Underground singer Lou Reed has increased to $20 million since his death last year and is now worth $30 million. Compared to executors of other famous estates, Reed’s executors will be paid a small sum for fees, as they are requesting a total of $220,000. In contrast, the executors for Michael Jackson’s estate are being paid 10 percent, which results in a huge sum considering just one business deal of the estate with Sony was for $250 million.

See Bonnie Kraham, Trusts Can Keep an Estate Private, Times-Herald-Record, Aug. 28. 2014.

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

September 2, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Man Pronounced Dead Found Breathing

MistakeTwo hours after the family of Valdelucio de Oliveira Goncalves, a 54-year-old terminally ill cancer patient, was told that he had died of respiratory and organ failure, the family discovered the doctors had made a mistake. The family found Goncalves in a body bag, tied up, with cotton wool in his nose and ears, and breathing.  The family wants answers to how their family member was mispronounced as dead, and hospital directors plan to check with those involved to find out how this mistake occurred.

See Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, ‘Dead’ Man Rescued 2 Hours Later When Family Notices Body Bag Moving, Fox News, Aug. 26, 2014.

September 2, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Defense of Wisconsin and Indiana Same-Sex Marriage Bans Gets Heated

RingsAs I have previously discussed, the rulings that struck down Wisconsin’s and Indiana’s same-sex marriage bans are being jointly appealed to the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court heard oral arguments earlier this week from both sides, and over 200 people waited in line in hopes to hear the arguments. Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson argued that the ban was supported by tradition, which prompted Judge Richard Posner to liken the argument to that of previous bans on marriage between interracial couples. Attorneys for the ACLU and national gay rights advocate group Lambda Legal argued that the bans violate equal protection because same-sex couples are denied legal benefits, which are available to straight couples.

See  Associated Press, Judges Blast Ind., Wis. Gay Marriage Bans, USA Today, Aug. 26, 2014.

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

August 28, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)