Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Court Challenge Puts Klingon Language In Copyright Crosshairs

KlingonKlingon has entered the pop culture collective conscience as the true mark of a hardcore Trekkie with the most diehard fans becoming fluent in the surprisingly developed language. But a copyright battle between Paramount and a group of fans who produced a high budget movie based on the Trek universe has put control of Klingon at center stage. Paramount, the owner of the franchise rights, is seeking to enforce a copyright over the language which could potentially give the studio the right to restrict it's use at any time. However, opponents of the power grab have filed amicus briefs seeking to restrict Paramount from exercising complete control while drawing comparisons to the Academie Francaise which regulates the French language. So, for the time being, the future of Klingon is in doubt but at least the battle will be fought with a ferocity that would make a warrior of the empire (well, the lawyer warriors at least) proud.

QaStaHvIS yIn tlhIngan wo'!!!!

See Ed Krayewski, Paramount Copyright Claim on Klingon Language Challenged in Klingon Language, Reason Magazine, April 28, 2016.

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

April 30, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Did Prince Have A Child After All?

PrinceSince the unexpected death of music legend Prince from what now appears to be an overdose of prescription pain killers the issue of who his estate will pass to has been a question asked by many. A recent filing in probate court by his full sister indicates that the family knows of no children with a host of siblings being the heirs presumptive at this point. However, a genealogical service is coming forward stating to have been contacted by an individual who claims to be Prince's child from a short lived relationship in the 80's. The service indicates that they think the claim has genuine merit but have not revealed any additional details about who the suspected child might be. Due to Prince dying without a will, any children would inherit the entire estate under Minnesota intestacy laws and completely exclude any other family members. But until the claim has been confirmed with a DNA test there is nothing to do but speculate on the existence of hidden heirs.

See Ryan Parry, Minnesota man is claiming to be Prince's 'love child' from a fling with his mom in the '80s as the music legend’s sister asks to be in charge of his $300 million estate, The Daily Mail, April 28, 2016.

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

April 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

British Man Use Friends Ashes To Catch Monster Fish

DeathRon Hopper was an avid fisherman and, as he approached retirement, he dreamed of being able to travel the world with his friends exploring exotic locals in the hunt for the big catch. But it was not to be. At the age of 64 he died of cancer shortly before a big trip to Thailand that was planned with his long time angling companions. Yet he managed to make the trip anyway. Shortly before his death his friends proposed using half of his ashes, with the rest to spread by Hopper's wife in the Caribbean, as part of a bait mix in their quest to reel in the giant Siamese Carp. The idea was met with approval and when his two friends made their trek to southeast Asia he came along as well just not in the way everyone imagined just a few years before. And, in a fitting end to the story, the ashes proved to be the perfect bait when his compadres caught what would have been a world record catch. While, no doubt, everyone wished Hopper would have been able to be there in the flesh it was still a fitting end to the journey of his mortal remains.

See, Fishermen use dead friend's ashes as bait to catch 180-pound carp, Fox News, April 28, 2016.

April 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Prince’s Siblings: Thieves in the Temple?

There once was a popstar named Prince.
He died and we’ve looked ever since
For a will to instruct us how
To divide this massive cash cow.

People looked high, people looked low.
Was there a will? Answer still no.
His sister rushed into the breach
And sought immediate relief.

She asked not for power or money,
But for a familiar trustee
To protect the diamonds and pearls
Until the true facts are unfurled.

So tabloids let’s NOT go crazy
As journalism, that’s lazy.
Go search for lost kids if you must
Or better a will under dust.

Special thanks to Prof. Frederick E. Vars (University of Alabama School of Law) for sharing his composition with the blog!

April 28, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Archives From Widow Of Famed Explorer Donated To Cambridge

ArticlePictureCaptain Robert Falcon Scott, I can imagine no better name for a world famous explorer, of the Antarctic no less, than that. During his time that name captivated more than just a single person as he lead one of the first explorations of the continent and died on his second after barely missing being the first team to reach the South Pole (while also discovering the first plant fossils on the continent on his doomed trek back to camp). Now, new details about the life of this intrepid discoverer will become available after the archives of his widow were transferred Cambridge University in order to satisfy an estate tax debt. In addition, the archives also include papers relating to the a prominent Conservative politician, and later Baron, as well as details about the early 20th century British political class. While the families would probably still have wished there be no taxes at all to need offsetting, the donation of personal papers such as these to satisfy death duties has been a boon to the academic community so let us hope similar collections continue to be passed along.

See Stuart Roberts, Diaries of Captain Scott's widow secured by Cambridge University Library, University of Cambridge, April 20, 2016.


April 28, 2016 in Current Events, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Trust Fund Baby Wanted A Few Dollars More

HanduffsWendy Jean Roberts was in need. That fact drove her to the state of Minnesota seeking public assistance where she swore, under penalty of perjury, that the assets listed in her application represented her worldly possessions. She claimed $1500 in her checking account but, it turns out, that need was not so great as she lead on. Because three and a half years later, the state discovered there was a $2 million trust fund paying out to Roberts more than $60,000 per year while also seeing the corpus grow during that period. In fact, the same month she claimed only $1500 to her name she received a almost $5000 from the trust. Over the course of the scam Roberts received about $30,000 worth of food stamps and free medial care. She is now facing felony theft charges although no trial date has yet to be set. In any event, this is going to cost Roberts much more than the $30,000 she scammed which just goes to show that some risk are not worth taking.

See Richard Chin, Maplewood woman with $2M trust fund was welfare cheat, charges say, Twin Cities Pioneer Press, April 26, 2016.

April 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prince Of Wills He Was Not, The Crown Will Pass Via Intestacy

ArticlePictureThe death of the Prince, one of the most influential musicians over the past several decades, shocked the world in what has been a graveyard year for rock royalty. With an estimated net worth somewhere north of $300 million, the status of his estate plans quickly became a question most curious to many suddenly interested parties. Now an answer appears to be at hand with probate filings revealing that the musician did not leave behind a will or any other estate plan. As it stands now, the singer's sister Tyka Nelson appears set to be the administrator of the estate due in no small part to her status as his full sister. A host of half-siblings were named as interested parties who stand to inherit through under Minnesota's intestacy statute. However, reports have emerged that Prince's home, Paisley Park, could be turned into a Graceland style tourist destination with the cooperation of the family which would indicate the would be heirs are already working together.

See Maria Puente, Prince died without a will, sister says, USA Today, April 26, 2016.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn for bringing this article to my attention.

April 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Doubt Grows About Existence Of Will For Prince

ArticlePictureThe unexpected death of legendary musician Prince continues to send shock-waves around the world as fans and friends alike cope with his passing. Sales of his records and movies have skyrocketed during that time including driving his mid 80's film Purple Rain to number two on iTunes. However, despite having a huge business empire, it is growing increasingly doubtful that Prince left behind a will of any sort. Friends of the songwriter have indicated that he genuinely believed that he was not going to die any time soon which lead him to not make preparations for his estate. While this belief seems to fit Prince's well known mercurial nature, he was also known as an avid business manager of his properties which would make many assume he created a post-death plan. But the disbelief of death is not uncommon so the world will know what plans were made for his passing when probate is opened on the estate sometime in the coming week.

See Roger Friedman, Prince Insider: “So Far, No One Has Presented a Will. He Thought He’d Live 1,999 Years”, Showbiz 411, April 24, 2016.

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

April 25, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Observations From The 2016 ACTEC Annual Meeting In Las Vegas

ArticlePictureSteve R. Akers (Senior Fiduciary Counsel - Southwest Region, Bessemer Trust) recently published his thoughts and observations from the 2016 ACTEC Annual Meeting which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada from March 17-20. This article contains his musings from various presentations and about selected issues that were raised by the speakers and guest. A copy of his musings can be found here.

April 24, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Study Reveals The Yearly Cost Increase In Nursing Home Care

Nursing HomeNursing home care is expensive, that fact is not in doubt in any way, shape, or form. However, a new study has revealed how much that cost increases from year to year as well as the differences between various regions of the country. The price for private and shared rooms increased on average %2 from 2014 to 2015 which fits with the increase found in other years. In addition, a wide range of cost was found across the country with rates in several Northeastern states being over $135,000 on average although those found in the south, such as Texas, having an average that does not top $60,000. The authors attribute the disparity between regions to the cost of labor which tends to be much lower in the south and midwest compared to the northern and western states. In any event, when planning for long term assisted living be sure to take yearly cost increases into account or risk finding any carefully planned budgets being broken in a few years time.

See Emily Mongan, Average cost of nursing home care rises 2% annually, Lincoln report shows, McKnights, April 21, 2016.

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

April 24, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)