Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

California Right To Die Bill Signed Into Law By Governor Jerry Brown

ArticlePictureCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that will allow assisted suicide in the state for certain individuals with terminal illness. The legislation was a long time reaching this point when it finally cleared the legislature earlier this year after facing numerous challenges from religious groups particularly the Roman Catholic Church. The new law is based on the Oregon assisted suicide statute that was a nationwide first when it was passed in 1997. Proponents of the bill hail it as a victory for personal choice as it will ease the suffering of those that lack the means to travel out of state to escape their terminal disease. However, opposition groups can take solace from resent victories over similar legislation in other states as well as The United Kingdom where a right to die proposal was killed in the House of Commons. However, the statute will not come into force immediately as it is expected to be early 2016 before the condition occurs which will allow the legislation to take effect.

See Patrick McGreevy, Gov. Brown signs controversial assisted-suicide bill, Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2015.

October 6, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0)

Estate Of Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat Wants Nude Photos Taken Down

ArticlePictureThe estate of famed neo-expressionist artist Jean-Michel Basquiat recently requested to have nude photos of the artist taken down from an art website. The photos were taken before the artist's death in 1988 and shows him posing naked for his then girlfriend. The photos were displayed in an art exhibition that was dedicated to the late painter which lead to the pictures being posted online. Basquiat was a rising star, before his death from a heroine overdose, in the street art community that emerged in the 70's and 80's due to his brutalist inspired abstract artwork which focused on the struggles of the impoverished.

See Mara Siegler, Estate fighting release of Basquiat’s nude photos, Page Six, October 4, 2015.


October 6, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Richard Attenborough's Will Reveals Burial Plans

Article PictureLord Richard Attenborough was a legendary actor and film director with such movies as Ghandi, The Great Escape, and Jurassic Park to his credit. Recently, details of his last wishes were revealed when his will was probated and stated that he wished to be cremated and interred with his daughter and granddaughter who died in 2004 in the Indonesian tsunami. He left behind an estate worth about £1.5 million in assets located in the UK although it is not known what other non-probate and foreign assets were part of the estate. Lord Attenborough died in August at age 90 and was survived by his wife of 70 years and several children and grandchildren.

See, Richard Attenborough's last request: place my ashes with my daughter and granddaughter, The Telegraph, October 4, 2015.


October 5, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hope Grows For Effective Alzheimer's Disease Treatment

BrainAlzheimer's Disease is one of the most devastating illnesses one can have due to it's destruction of many higher mental functions most notably memory. Over six million Americans already have the affliction and the number will only grow as the Baby Boomer generation reaches the age range in which the condition usually manifest itself. However, there is much hope that new treatments which are being studied will bring relief. Over a hundred clinical trials are currently active with many focusing on the role that amyloid plaque, long a suspect as the driver of the disorder, plays in the development of the disease. Whatever route medicine takes to find for a treatment or a cure, it cannot come fast enough to rid the world of this terrible disease.

See Rita Rubin, Potential Treatments Ahead for Alzheimer’s Disease, Next Avenue, September 30, 2015.


October 5, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Robin Williams Estate Dispute Comes To An End

ArticlePictureThe fight between the children of late actor Robin Williams and his widow Susan Schneider has come to end following a settlement. While the details of the terms of the agreement have not been released, some personal items such as a watch that Williams often wore and a bicycle bought on their honeymoon will go to Schneider. Representatives of the children stated that they are relieved to have the dispute resolved which has been ongoing since 2014.

See, Robin Williams’ widow settles suit against estate, late actor’s three kids, New York Daily News, October 2, 2015.

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

October 3, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Catholic Priest Accused Of Using Position To Get Money From Older Parishioners

Christian ChurchA priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey is being investigated by authorities for using his position in the church to receive gifts from older, wealthy parishioners. Father Orozco was assigned to his parish, one of the wealthiest, just after his ordination in 2012 and has reportedly accepted over $250,000 in gifts. The suspicion arose due to allegations that many of the donations to him were made due to his representations of need but, in reality, many of the purported expenses were already covered by the diocese including car rental and insurance. In addition, he took a gift of $25,000 to buy a vacation home, which was never purchased, and solicited $150,000 from another parishioner to supposedly buy a house for his impoverished family in Columbia. As of now, no criminal charges have been filed and Father Orozco has vigorously defended his innocence on the basis that all gifts were voluntary.

See Mark Mueller, Priest took more than $250K from 'grandmas' at wealthy church, authorities say, NJ.com, October 1st, 2015.


October 2, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Caretaker Of Simpsons Creator Sam Simon's Dog In Dispute With Estate Over Expenses

ArticlePictureSam Simon was legendary in television circles as the co-creator of The Simpsons which lead to him amassing a fortune in excess of $100 million. Before his death, Simon, a well known animal lover, made arrangements with longtime friend animal trainer Tyson Kilmer for the ongoing care of his beloved dog Columbo. However, Kilmer is now engaged in a battle over funds to care for the dog with the estate as he claims that the funds that have been dispersed so far are insufficient to properly care for the animal. The estate fired back with accusations that Kilmer has been demanding huge sums of money, up to $1.7 million, for the care of the animal and that his demands are unreasonable. As of now, no lawsuit has been filed and the dog remains in the care of Kilmer who claims that he will never give him up even without the money.

See Khaleda Rahman, Estate of late Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon locked in a bitter battle with the new owner of his beloved dog who says he has not received $140,000 annual allowance to care for the canine, The Daily Mail, September 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.

October 2, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Good, Bad, And Ugly Of Celebrity Estate Plans

ArticlePictureCelebrity estates are often used as examples of the good and bad when it comes to estate planning. The wealth they leave behind will almost certainly draw out any potential claim that can be made and test the strength of post death plans. The most newsworthy estates are usually those that provoke a legal battle between heirs such as in the case of Ernie Banks and Robin Williams. Then there are the poorly planned such as that of Phillip Seymour Hoffman who left his entire estate to a long time girlfriend that lead to a huge estate tax hit and no guarantees his children would ever receive support. But not all celebrities will have feuding heirs as in the case of Paul Walker whose estate was properly planned with his child protected and his fortune split in an equitable manner. In the end, let the lessons of the celebrity estates can lead to some good if they instruct on the dos and don'ts of planning and what problems might be encountered.

See Megan Elliot, 7 Estate Planning Lessons from Celebrities, Cheat Sheet, September 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.

October 1, 2015 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Battle Over Historic Jacket Ends Before Pennsylvania Appellate Court

ArticlePictureA battle between family members over the ownership of a fighter pilot jacket that was used in World War II appears to be over after an appellate court ruling. The jacket belonged Phillip Eppley who was a member of the legendary Flying Tigers, an American volunteer force fighting for China before Pearl Harbor, and ended up in the estate of his wife who died after Eppley. One of the widow's sons took the jacket before his mother's death and refused to return the jacket until he was hit with an estate tax bill. Since then he has been seeking to show that he never owned jacket, in order to avoid the tax, and was merely holding it on behalf Eppley's son who owned all other memorabilia. The appellate court ruled that the son owned the jacket and failed to show that he was merely holding the jacket due to his exclusive possession of the jacket for over a year after his mothers death.

See Matt Miller, Rare WWII 'Flying Tigers' flight jacket focus of Pa. court battle, Penn Live, September 29, 2015.


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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals Rules That Herbalife Heir Lacks Standing

HerbalifeThe Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that the sole beneficiary of a multimillion dollar trust that was created by the founder of Herbalife lacked the standing to challenge a bankruptcy courts approval of a settlement agreement.  The Court ruled that a Trust beneficiary is not a “party in interest” and could only sue to enforce the terms of the Trust.  In the opinion Judge Jay Bybee wrote that "in general, a trust beneficiary is not the entity positioned to take legal recourse to protect the trust assets, unless the beneficiary is seeking only to enforce the terms of the trust."  The heir’s objection to the settlement agreement was not an action to enforce the terms of the Trust according to the court. 

See Jack Bouboushian, Ninth Circuit Sidelines Young Herbalife Heir, Courthouse News Service, September 29, 2015.

September 29, 2015 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)