Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Deciding Sumner Redstone's Mental Acuity

SumnerWith Sumner Redstone’s declining health, the case to decide his mental acuity is becoming more difficult and more pertinent with so many third parties involved. To determine his competency for deciding to oust two Viacom trustees, psychiatrists will look for evidence that Mr. Redstone understands relevant facts and appreciates the impact of his decisions. To determine any undue influence on the behalf of his daughter, the court will look at the facts placed before it to see if she threatened him or preyed on his emotions. Mr. Redstone will need to indicate a clear and consistent rationale for the change.

See Erik Eckholm, A Complicated Legal Battle Over Sumner Redstone’s Mental Acuity, NY Times, May 25, 2016.

May 26, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hillary Clinton Moves New York Home into Trust

Hillary clintonHillary and Bill Clinton purchased their Chappaqua, New York home in 1999 and have now moved it into a residence trust. This will allow them to legally evade the so-called ‘death tax.’ Moving the home into trust will reduce their estate tax bills and avoid the IRS’s reach. This move comes at an interesting time because Hillary is fighting for estate tax reform, which would raise taxes for wealthy Americans.

See Kelly McLaughlin, Hillary and Bill Clinton Dodge ‘Death Tax’ by Putting Their New York Home into Trust – Despite Presidential Candidate’s Efforts to Make the Wealthiest Pay More, Daily Mail, May 23, 2016.

Special thanks to Jay Brinker for bringing this Article to my attention.

May 25, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prince's Death Sparks Will Trend

Last willHas Prince’s death sparked a new trend across the nation—drafting a will? Several legal information sites have seen an increase in sales for downloadable products, requests for consultations, and estate planning activity. This furor, however, is most likely due to personal life events—young couples naming guardians, old couples passing wealth, and others hearing of horror inheritance stories. Starting the will process early can end up saving you tons of money, unlike Prince’s family who face an expensive state-ordered probate.

See Dearly Beloved: Prince’s Death Prompts Uptick in Wills, Private Wealth, May 24, 2016.

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

May 25, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sumner Redstone's Competency at Issue

Sumner Further competency questions about Sumner Redstone are arising after he suddenly changed the succession plan for his $40 billion media empire. Mr. Dauman and two other Viacom directors asserted that Redstone’s competency along with his daughter’s manipulation caused him to oust Mr. Dauman and George Abrams, both Viacom executives and members of the board of National Amusements, from the trust.

 Sumner’s daughter, Shari Redstone, is being accused of influencing her father to gain control of his companies. Worried about such inconsistency with his intent, both sides presented evidence to prove Sumner’s competency and any undue influence. Not all influence is undue, however, it depends on Ms. Redstone’s motive—does her desire to influence meet her own needs or her father’s. This question along with many more will help to determine Sumner’s civil competence.

See Emily Steel, New Questions Arise Over Sumner Redstone’s Competency After He Alters Trust, New York Times, May 21, 2016.

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

May 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Tom Benson Leaving Nothing to His Daughter and Grandchildren

Tom bensonTom Benson has expressed his intent to leave nothing to his daughter or grandchildren due to their continuing hostility. He further wishes to have his third wife, Gayle, become the successor to his business empire, taking sole control of the Saints and Pelicans. Consequently, the scorned heirs tried to declare his incompetency along with undue influence from his wife, alleging memory lapses and mistaken identity. This lawsuit was rejected. They hope for a further opportunity to bring these issues to light.

See Mike Triplett, Saints/Pelicans Owner Tom Benson Wants ‘Zero’ Left in Trust to Daughter, Grandchildren, ESPN, May 20, 2016.

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

Friday, May 13, 2016

Some Of The Ins And Outs Of Italy's New Civil Union Law

ItalyRecently Italy joined the ranks of nations that recognize same-sex civil unions. The law is a major change for Italian law and comes with loads of new laws to go along with the new found legal status. Provided below are some of the key point:

  • Those entering into a civil union are obligated to provide assistance and support to the other member of the union. In addition, partners are granted the right to inherit in much the same way as a spouse.
  • The law specifically denies the right of partners of a union from adopting step-children even if the assumed a parental role.
  • The choice of surname for is left up to the individual partners. Italy has strict registration requirements when it comes to names so allowing those in the civil union to have a choice is a major step forward.
  • No requirements regarding fidelity are imposed on those in civil unions. This will result in legal separations having no need to blame a party it is the result of cheating on the other.

See, What Italy’s New Civil Unions Law Entails, Corriere Della Sera, May 12, 2016.


May 13, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Boozy Lunch Leads To Lost Corpse In Germany

BeerWhile making a road trip to Poland from Italy it is natural to want to stop for a bit to unwind from the journey and take a little break. But one man decided he needed something extra and decided to have a drink or two to celebrate making it to his halfway mark in Germany. But before he could get in his, presumably, hard earned break he had to park his vehicle which just happened to a hearse complete with a corpse and coffin. Problem was he ended up forgetting where he parked the vehicle which lead to a day long search before the car as found about two miles from where the man claimed to have left the hearse. Police suspect that the man's apparent embrace of the phrase "it's five o'clock somewhere" when he had his meal contributed to the memory lapse. But, in any case, all ended well although there might be some doubts about the driver's future employment.

See, Undertaker loses hearse, body during boozy lunch, Fox News, May 11, 2016

May 12, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Inmate Claims To Be Son of Prince

GeneticsThe death of legendary musician Prince shocked the world and set off a scramble to find his various heirs due to the lack of a will. Until now, it has been assumed by many that he was survived by no relations closer than his full blooded sister and cluster of half-siblings which is the same tack that a Minnesota court took when it stated all possible heirs had been contacted. However, a man is claiming to be the son of Prince from a relation the signer had with the man's mother before he shot to stardom. The man is currently being held in federal prison over gun charges and when reached by the media his family declined to issue any comment about the claim. However, despite the Minnesota court announcing that all heirs were located, it ordered the preservation of a DNA sample that can be used to test any familial claims. But, at this time, no test has been done to confirm or deny the man's claim.

See Sara Sidner, Prince estate: Colorado inmate says he is singer's son, sole heir, CNN, May 1, 2016.

May 12, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New Twist As Benson Seeks To Transfer Team Shares

BensonA new twist emerged in the court case involving the transfer of shares of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans from a trust created for the benefits of the daughter and grandchildren of embattled billionaire Tom Benson. Lawyers opposing the transfer have asked the federal judge overseeing the case to block the transfer since the NFL and NBA have yet to approve the transfer of the shares. However, lawyers for Benson fought back claiming that the terms of the trust allowed for the removable of the shares in the teams and said the motion was without merit. The issue in the case revolves around the exchange of promissory notes backed by the teams themselves in exchange for the non-voting shares held by the trust. The elder Benson seeks to leave ownership to his current wife which upends previous succession plans involving Benson's daughter and grandchildren. No word on when a ruling will be issued on the motion t dismiss.

See Katherine Sayre, Saints, Pelicans owner Tom Benson's ownership swap needs NFL, NBA approval, New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 9, 2016.

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

May 10, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Young And Want A House? Better Hope Parents Can Help

HouseHome ownership has long been a measuring stick of success in life as those able to buy are generally considered as having a good job and being financially responsible. But a recent study has revealed that more goes into getting a house than just having stability. Specifically, those that have financial help from their parents are more easily able to buy a home than those without assistance from family. The study looked at those between age 20-49 that had been renters one year and owners the next. It found that receiving at least $5000 from parents in the previous two years increased the likelihood of buying by %23. In addition, the author' found that race played a difference when it comes to home ownership and parental support which they tie to the historical housing market discrepancy between groups. The author's also expressed concern that the ability for younger generations to purchase homes without help could lead to problems for Baby Boomers who expect to sell their houses but may end up hurting to find buyers. But only time will tell what the future of the housing market for younger generations might be.

See Emily Badger, How your parents affect your chances of buying a home, The Washington Post, May 4, 2016.

Special thanks to John Stromeyer for bringing this article to my attention.

May 9, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)