Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Inmate Will Not Share in Prince's $300 Million Estate

Prince33The judge overseeing Prince’s estate is not allowing cameras in an upcoming hearing to determine possible heir claims. According to the law, the media and public may also be banned from the hearing if the court pursues specific paternity matters. We now know, however, that Carlin Williams, an inmate serving eight years for unlawful transportation of a firearm, is not a potential heir after a DNA test came back with a 0% chance of relation. The prisoner will not share in any of Prince’s $300 million estate as paternity questions continue to arise. 

See Prince Is Not the Father of Man Serving Time in Prison According to DNA Results that Bar the Convicted Felon from Inheriting Any Part of $300 Million Estate, Daily Mail, June 22, 2016.

June 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Michael Jackson's Estate Attempts to Shut Down Media Buzz on Recently Released Police Reports

Michael jacksonMichael Jackson’s estate attempted to shut down the media buzz surrounding a 2003 police report that was released detailing the singer’s pornography collection. The estate worries that this hype is undermining the upcoming anniversary of Jackson’s death. Photos of the investigation into child sexual assault were also released but quickly taken down. The police records, however, reveal Jackson’s alleged pornography collection; however, these records seem to be mixed with misguided information from the Internet.

See Michael Jackson’s Estate Fights Back at Report Detailing Singer’s Creepy Porn Stash, Fox News, June 22, 2016.

June 23, 2016 in Current Events, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Academy Looks to Stop the Sale of Whitney Houston's Emmy Award

Whitney houston emmyEmmy executives are trying to block the sale of Whitney Houston’s 1986 Emmy award, claiming that all winners sign an agreement that requires heirs to release the award back to the Academy in memory of the recipient. Whitney’s estate is trying to sell the award through Heritage Auctions, who has demanded proof of Whitney’s signature on that agreement. Heritage expects to sell the award for upwards of $10,000.

See Whitney Houston Emmy Battle Heading for Court, TMZ, June 22, 2016.

June 22, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Texas Court Finds No Informal Fiduciary Relationship

Caregiver beneficiaryIn Garrett v. First State Bank of Central Texas, a Texas court of appeals decided on a dispute over the ownership of a decedent’s account. The decedent’s estate and caregiver both claimed the account proceeds. The caregiver was a signatory on the decedent’s money market account, and she claimed that the decedent had expressed his wishes for the account to pass to her upon his death. The trial court, however, ruled that her signature did not make her the beneficiary of the account rather just a signatory to pay bills. The court of appeals affirmed the trials court’s finding because often Texas courts are hesitant to find informal fiduciary relationships.

See J. Michael Young, Garrett v. First State Bank of Central Texas: No Informal Fiduciary Relationship, Texas Probate Litigation, June 20, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

June 22, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Update on What Percentage of Americans Have Out-of-Date Wills

Old willA survey by USLegalWills.com has concluded that 72% of Americans do not have an up-to-date will. This percentage in years past has been under-reported, and now, the current data derives from 63% of Americans not having a will, a previously reported statistic, and 9% of Americans having an out-of-date will, a newly published statistic. The 9% have wills that were written before their major life events, like getting married or having children. Particularly, one in four senior citizens has an out-of-date will, which is the highest ratio across age groups, but they are also most likely to have an up-to-date will.

See US Survey Reveals that 72% of Americans Do Not Have an Up-to-Date Will, ABCNewswire, June 21, 2016.

Special thanks to Matthew Fernandez for bringing this Article to my attention.

June 22, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Portability and QTIP Election Do Not Produce Date-of-Death Basis on Death of Surviving Spouse

QTIP electionA recent private letter ruling concludes that portability and qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) election at the death of a first spouse would not produce a date-of-death basis for the death of the surviving spouse. An unnecessary QTIP election is void when an estate makes the election in trust for the benefit of a surviving spouse. This marital deduction is not allowed to reduce the estate tax liability at death because, as concluded, it was unnecessary. Ultimately, this will deny the date-of-death basis at the death of the surviving spouse. 

See Rodney L. Goodwin, IRS Rules No Date-of-Death Basis on Death of Surviving Spouse, Wealth Management, June 20, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

June 21, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to Keep Your Family Matters in Check with Your Wealth

Wealthy estateWith the Sumner Redstone saga receiving so much press, many are left to wonder how families become so entangled over financial woes. Perhaps, suggests one attorney, wealthy people should manage their families like they do their money. To help with these family squabbles, an advisor can help avert some of these end-of-life crises and engage the client in difficult communication about family relations. The advisor should stress that any family divides will inevitably lead to fights later on, especially with wealthy individuals. Additionally, it is essential to plan for your estate while competency is not at issue.

See Michael Fischer, Making Sure Your Client’s Estate Doesn’t Go ‘Redstone’, Financial Advisor Magazine, June 17, 2016.

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

June 21, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 20, 2016

West Virginia Puts Asset Protection Trust Law into Effect

Asset protectionJonathan Gopman, Michael Sneeringer, & Alan Gassman recently published an Article entitled, West Virginia Passes Asset Protection Trust – Trust Legislation Effective June 8, 2016 – Here Comes the Mountainair Trust, Wealth Strategies Journal (May 16, 2016). Provided below is a summary of the Article:

West Virginia became the 16th state in the United States to establish a public policy and statutes enabling its citizens and persons residing outside of West Virginia to establish an irrevocable trust that can benefit the grantor without being subject to creditors of the grantor when appropriate circumstances apply. Unlike the handful of jurisdictions that have established legislation that invites those from outside the state to have the strongest protection available for transfers to trusts, West Virginia’s statute requires that there be no creditors existing that would be expected to be able to pursue the assets of the trust upon funding, and requires an extensive affidavit to be executed when any contribution is made to the trust that such contribution does not constitute a fraudulent transfer or other inappropriate arrangement.

Notwithstanding the conservative nature of the statute, the authors commend West Virginia’s new policy allowing its citizens and others to establish trust arrangements that will permit assets to be protected from the claims of creditors in situations where other exemptions and strategic forms of ownership that might be utilized would be more expensive, restrictive and inconsistent with investment, retirement and family planning objectives or needs. This statute also potentially provides West Virginia residents who have or will establish asset protection trusts in other jurisdictions to have some confidence that their local law may be applied in a challenge to such a trust structure in a supportive manner if the requirements of the West Virginia statutes are met (or close thereto). Clients who have trusted relatives or close friends in West Virginia who are establishing trusts well before problems are expected to occur may consider this state to be an appropriate situs, and use of the situs can help to prove that there are no expected creditor challenges at the time such a trust is established.

This article provides a summary of the new asset protection trust law in West Virginia and also discusses certain issues that the authors believe will need to be addressed quickly and corrected in subsequent legislation by the legislature in West of Virginia.

June 20, 2016 in Articles, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deceitful Half Sister Ordered to Pay Coin Estate $1.2 Million

LaatschLori Laatsch was ordered to pay $1.2 million to the Derzon Coins estate upon trying to use the family’s assets as her own. The judge ordered this amount due to her “bad faith, fraud and deliberate dishonesty.” This ruling comes after she was stripped of any interest in the $3 million estate of Rebecca Derzon, Laatsch’s half sister who wrote her into her will months before her death, leaving her 75% of the coin business. Laatsch is accused of deceitful behavior over many years, prolonging litigation.

See Cary Spivak, Ex-Derzon Coins Operator Ordered to Pay Estate $1.2 Million, Journal Sentinel, May 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.

June 20, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Minnesota Sues Life Insurance Companies Over Beneficiary Payouts

Life insuranceThe State of Minnesota is suing life insurance companies for not paying beneficiaries, seeking millions of dollars in payouts. We pay into life insurance policies to ensure that our loved ones will be taken care of when we die, but when insurance companies are keeping the proceeds to reinvest, the unconscionable behavior causes outrage. Oftentimes these insurance companies are not alerting beneficiaries to the policies, unless the beneficiary files a claim. The best way to combat these companies’ dishonesty is to share your information with loved ones and keep the information in a safe place.

See Jennifer Mayerle, State Suing Life Insurance Companies for Not Paying Beneficiaries, CBS Minnesota, May 18, 2016.

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

June 19, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)