Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

South Dakota Banking Heir Now Broke?

BrokeThe Vucurevichs are something of a noble family as far as South Dakota is concerned due to the once extensive banking empire founded by family patriarch John. However, John's son Tom now appears to be broke after a claim sent to various creditors announced the Vucurevich estate is out of money. This comes as a surprise to many since Tom was viewed as one of the wealthiest men in the state and is associated with a number of high end projects that might now be in jeopardy if the insolvency claim is true. However, situations such as this are increasingly common due to the inherent difficulty in maintaining wealth down through the generations even when advanced planning techniques are used. Multigenerational wealth tends to sputter by the third generation in no small part due to the impossibility of all heirs having the capacity to live within their means no matter how great. While many claim the Vucurevich family is hiding assets, this insolvency claim still serves as an example that a it only takes one person to build, and another to unfortunately lose, a fortune.

See Jonathan Ellis, Banking magnate heir says he's flat broke, USA Today, August 30, 2015.

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Public Opinion Shift Now Allows Doctors To Talk With Patients About End Of Life Options

MedicalEnd of life choice is a difficult talk for anyone and has been at the center of political controversy since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. However, as public mood has shifted, Medicare is now calling for the ability to reimburse doctors for visits in which they talk about end of life options with a patient. Currently, reimbursement if only possible on the first visit which critics say hurts patients by depriving them of knowledge about advance care plans. Private insurance companies have begun to cover these visits and doctors in some states have been encouraged for years to work these talks into normal office visits. But any change is likely to be slow due to strong opposition from groups that fear governmental agencies will use doctors to encourage people to accept death rather than fight for life. Legislation has been introduced to allow Medicare to cover advance care planning but has not found enough traction to pass into law. One thing is for sure though, this is an issue that will only grow in importance as a record number of American's enter old age.

See  Kristian Foden-Vencil, Medicare: Doctors Should Get Paid For End-Of-Life Talks, OPB, August 18, 2015.

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

September 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Larry King's Thought On Dying (And Everything Else As Well)

Article PictureLarry King is a legend of television journalism and is recognized in Washington D.C. to Beijing and everywhere in between. Now that his iconic show is five years behind him and the end nears, he has begin to speak about how he feels about life, death, and what still fascinates him. In this absorbing New York Times profile, King ranges free on subjects such as how he keeps himself going after 80 (routine is a big part) and who he wants to speak at his funeral (Bill Clinton among others). For anyone interested about the thoughts of a man who helped shape public opinion for decades this is certainly a must, and engrossing, read.

See Mark Leibovich, Larry King Is Preparing for the Final Cancellation, New York Times, August 26, 2015.

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


August 31, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Estate Of Ernie Banks Faces New Challenge As Creditor Steps Forward

Article PictureAs I have previously discussed, the estate of Ernie Banks has been embroiled in legal challenges from his estranged wife who was left out of the will. Now, the estate faces more trouble as a long time friend of Banks has stepped forward claiming he owed her $80,000 from his time as an executive at her families moving company. Shirley Marx claims that she had loaned Banks the money over the years as the Hall of Famer faced cash flow problems, however, no documentation exist that proves the debt. Between this new claim and the potential for a long legal battle over the will, some worry that the estate will be exhausted of assets before a resolution is reached. Let us hope that this case does not end in Dickensian fashion

See Jason Meisner, Longtime friend of Ernie Banks wants his estate to repay $80,000 debt, Chicago Tribune, August 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.

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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rampant Greed Leads To Devastating Consequences For Family

Piggy BankThe Baker family was prosperous, they possessed a valuable stake in several gyms, owned multiple properties, and seemed to be living the perfect life. However, greed got the better of them and saw the family using a series of illegal trust to avoid taxes with millions invested in a get rich quick ponzi scheme. As a result, they were faced with a vengeful IRS going after a diminished fortune to which they responded by doubling down and going with a sham divorce to hide what assets they had left. In the end, they were exposed in court for fraudulent transfers and will lose what ever wealth they have left.

This story is an excellent example that many people will go to any lengths to avoid paying what is owed and will often windup in a worse situation. When faced with a client that is plainly willing to do anything to avoid taxes and creditors, approach them with caution and make sure they know the limits of what is allowable. The rapacious must have boundries or else they will use those around to accomplish their illegal aims no matter the potential harm it could cause to those involved.

See Jay Adkisson, Son of BOSS Leads To A Divorce And Fraudulent Transfer Troubles In Baker, Forbes, August 22, 2015.

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

August 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Charitable Dilemma When It Comes To Naming Right In Perpetuity

PhilantropyNaming rights may be the most valuable asset a nonprofit organization holds as the altruistically inclined super rich trade millions for name recognition. Many of the donation agreements call for the name to stick in perpetuity but the reality of the situation is often muddled. A cash strapped charitable organization is unlikely to turn down a major donation in order to preserve the name of a donor from decades before. In some instances, the descendants of the original donor have had the donation returned to allow the charity to free up the naming rights to bring in new benefactors. As a result of this trend, commentators have suggested charities drop the perpetuity promise for naming rights and admit that future conditions may require adding a new name or dropping the old one in order to preserve the organization. While current donors might not like such a change, dropping perpetuity agreements would allow greater flexibility in the future and ensure charitable intent will not die for lack of resources.

See Doug White, No Gift Should Be a Suicide Pact — So Drop the Perpetuity Idea, Chronicle of Philanthropy, August 24, 2015.

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

August 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Renaissance Era Painting Looted By Nazi's Returned To Heirs

Passing Down PictureThe German state of Baden-Würtemberg has returned the painting "Bildnis Pfalzgraf Johann III" to the heirs of the original owner. The painting was sold in 1936 following pressure from Nazi officials and the proceeds confiscated. The return of this item is the latest in decades of work by the German government to return looted artwork and other artifacts. Despite World War II ending 70 years ago, the sheer amount of stolen property from that era, especially when combined with the paucity of records, will likely ensure that works such as this will continue to find their way back to their rightful owners long into the future.

See, Nazi-Looted Hans Wertinger Painting Finally Restituted To Heirs, Artlyst, August 18, 2015.


August 26, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judge Issues Ruling In Tom Clancy Estate Dispute

Article PictureA judge in Baltimore has ruled in favor of the widow of author Tom Clancy in a battle over estate taxes. The issue involved the payment of close to $12 million in taxes owed by the estate that the widow claimed should be taken from the 1/3 of the estate left to the children of the later author. The judge stated that the intent found in the will clearly chowed the widow's 2/3 should pass tax free with the other part of the estate shouldering the entire tax burden. His widow is the primary beneficiary of a trust that contained Clancy's minority stake in the Baltimore Orioles, in addition to other property, worth an estimated $58 million. No word yet on if the children will appeal the ruling.

See Scott Calvert, Tom Clancy’s Widow Wins Legal Battle Over Taxes on $86 Million Estate, Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2015.

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

August 26, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Texas Attorney General Played Dubious Role In Hunt Estate Battle

Article PictureKen Paxton, the embattled Texas Attorney General with a recent felony indictment, is now facing questions about his conduct while serving as a guardian ad litem. The issue arises from the estate of Tanner Hunt, son of billionaire Ray Hunt, and the trust fund that had been established for him. Paxton was the guardian for Tanner's two daughters and participated in negotiations that would have bought out the girls interest in any Hunt family trust for far less than they would have otherwise inherited. In addition, details later emerged that Paxton had improper contact with the attorney that sought to exclude the daughters from their father's trust and was appointed to the position by a judge that had to recuse himself from the case due to contact with the same attorney. Several estate law experts questioned Paxton's actions in light of the prior contact with opposition attorneys and his passive acceptance of offers that obviously undervalued what the daughter could get otherwise. As of now, no investigation into his actions has been announced.

See Lise Olsen & Lauren McGaughy, Paxton's role in Hunt family probate case called ill-defined and unorthodox, Houston Chronicle, August 22, 2015.


August 25, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Guardianship, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Apartment Of Legendary Cosmo Editor At Center Of Estate Dispute

Article PictureHelen Gurley Brows is a legend in the publishing world and New York society based on her decades as editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. When she died, her substantial estate included an apartment at the Beresford Building in Central Park West which is one of the most exclusive addresses in the city. The apartment was left to a charitable trust that was supposed to sell the apartment under the terms of the co-op agreement but, three years later, still retains the property. As a result, rumblings have spread that the fiduciary of the trust has improperly kept the property in violation of her duty to dispose of illiquid assets in addition to violation of the sell agreement. While no legal action has been taken, a failure to dispose of the apartment could lead to a suit as a violation of the co-op agreement which would lead to a forced sale.

See Katherine Rosman, Who Owns Helen Gurley Brown’s Legacy?, New York Times, August 22, 2015.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris and Wendy S. Goffe for bringing this article to my attention.

August 24, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)