Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Plans to End 'Death Tax' on British Pension Inheritance

Tax CutIt is expected that George Osborne, British politician and Chancellor of the Exchequer, will announce in April an end to the “death tax” for drawdown pensions passed on as inheritance after the accountholder dies. The new plan will abolish the current marginal rate tax if the accountholder dies before reaching age 75 and will reduce the taxes from 55% to the marginal income tax rate if the accountholder is over 75-years-old at death. The new plan, which is intended to assist with economic growth, is planned to be announced at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham prior to May elections.

See Peter Dominiczak, George Osborne Scraps the 'Death Tax', The Telegraph, Sept. 28, 2014.

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

September 29, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Same-Sex Divorce Denied in Fort Worth

DivorceTwo women, Brooke Powell and Cori Jo Long, who were legally married in New Hampshire were denied their requests for either a divorce or a ruling that their marriage was void. Tarrant County District Court Judge William Harris based his ruling on Texas' ban on gay marriage. An appeal of the decision is expected.

See David Lee, Texas Judge Says Hands Are Tied on Gay Divorce, Courthouse News Service, Sept. 22, 2014.

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

September 28, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Man Behind Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme Forced to pay Millions

BagAs one of the most well known cyber-currencies, Bitcoin has attracted many commentators, promoters, and scam artists. Earlier this week, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas entered an order for Tendon T. Shavers to pay disgorgement of $40 million and imposed a civil penalty of $150,000 for the Bitcoin Ponzi scheme that he ran on investors of Bitcoin Savings & Trust. Shavers targeted his victims through chat rooms and forums intended for those interested in Bitcoin, and operated under the user-name “pirateat40.”

See Jay Adkisson, BitcoinSavings & Trust Comes Up $40 Million Short on Trust Part, Forbes, Sept. 25, 2014.

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

September 26, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sanctions Ordered in Wyly Brothers Case

GavelAs I have previously discussed, after a jury found Sam and Charles Wyly guilty of fraud, the SEC and the defense began arguing over the amount of sanctions that should be applied. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, ordered sanctions of $187.7 million for the Wyly's offshore trust scheme that brought in profits of $553 million for the brothers. The SEC had asked for over $700 million in sanctions, but is considering the ruling a win.

See Sara Jerving, Texas Entrepreneur Wyly Sentenced to Sanctions—Update, Dow Jones Business News, Sept. 25, 2014.

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

September 26, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Texas' Same-Sex Marriage Ban Prevents Woman from Getting Driver's License

RingsConnie and Aimee Wilson were legally married in California before moving to Pasadena, Texas, near Houston. Connie took Aimee's last name, which is also the last name of the couple's three children. Connie ran into trouble getting her Texas Driver's license when she attempted to use her marriage license to prove her identification at the Department of Public Safety. Since Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage, the out-of-state marriage license was not accepted. Connie will likely have to get a court order to be able to get her new license, which may affect her ability to close on her new home and vote in upcoming elections in November.

See Lydia O'Connor, Gay California Woman Denied Driver's License in Texas, The Huffington Post, Sept. 23, 2014.

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 26, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sitkoff to Chair Committee on Divided Trusteeship

Robert sitkoff

Robert H. Sitkoff, the John L. Gray Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, has been named Chair of the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) drafting committee for an Act on Divided Trusteeship.

The problem of a divided trusteeship stems from the increasingly common practice in estate planning to name a corporate trustee that is given custody of trust property, but with one or more of the investment, distribution, or administration functions of a trusteeship given to a person(s) who is not lawfully designated as a trustee.  Thus, uncertainty remains regarding the fiduciary status of nontrustees who have control or potential control over a function of trusteeship and about the fiduciary responsibility of trustees with regard to actions taken by such nontrustees.  The Drafting Committee on Divided Trusteeship will draft legislation addressing these questions and also outline compatible amendments to existing uniform trust and estate acts. 

As Chair, Sitkoff will oversee the work of the drafting committee, which includes more than a dozen Uniform Law Commissioners.  Sitkoff is an expert in wills, trusts, estates and fiduciary administration and has published numerous works in in leading scholarly journals.  Moreover, Sitkoff is also an active participant in trusts and estates law reform, serving under Massachusetts gubernational appointment as a Uniform Law Commissioner. 

See Sitkoff Named Chair of Drafting Committee for Act on Divided Trusteeship, Harvard Law Today, Sept. 19, 2014. 

September 20, 2014 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Shocking Depositions Taken in Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ Lawsuit Against Marvin Gaye’s Estate

GavelAs I have previously discussed, after Marvin Gaye’s estate threatened legal action against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for intentional copyright infringement of Gaye’s song “Got to Give it Up”, Thicke and Williams replied with a preemptive lawsuit. Depositions for the lawsuit were taken from Thick and Williams in April. In Thicke’s deposition, he explains under oath that he had little to do with the creation of the song "Blurred Lines", but chose to take credit for the hit after the fact. Thicke blamed his behavior and comments made to the press regarding wanting to make a song like Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up,’ on heavy drug and alcohol use at the time.

See Sean O’Neal, Robin Thicke Says He Can’t be Blamed for “Blurred Lines” Because He Was High, AV Club, Sept. 15, 2014.

September 16, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 15, 2014

One Man’s Same-Sex Marriage Recognized in Arizona

RingsFred McQuire and his late husband George Martinez were married in California this past summer after 45 years together. Martinez, who passed away due to pancreatic cancer attributed to his exposure to Agent Orange while he was serving in the Vietnam War, wanted to marry his long time partner before he passed away. After Martinez’s death, McQuire ran into trouble when he tried to claim death benefits since Arizona does not recognize same-sex marriage.  U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ruled that McQuire should be allowed to be listed as Martinez’s spouse on his death certificate. However, McQuire will likely still not be able to collect death benefits due to unrelated regulations. The decision is limited to McQuire’s specific situation, but may signal the outcome of a pending case in Arizona challenging the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

See Jacques Billeaud, Man Wins Fight to Get Same-Sex Union Recognized, My San Antonio, Sept. 12, 2014.

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 15, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Home Video Reveals Elder Abuse by Home Care Aides

Elder Care

Peter Mazza needed assistance with daily activities at the age of 99, but wanted to live out his days at his home in Staten Island, N.Y. To honor Mazza’s wishes, his family hired home-health aides through Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Partners in Care. The family had previously had a bad experience with home health aides so they installed video cameras in the home prior to hiring the new aides, and say that they informed both the company and the aides of the presence of the cameras.

Mazza sustained injuries due to a fall in April and died in a nursing home in June. Mazza's family claims that the cameras reveal multiple incidences of severe abuse and neglect, including an aide refusing to assist Mazza to reach his walker, which resulted in the fall that caused his injuries. The family is currently suing Partners in Care. The company has fired or suspended the aides involved.

See Frank Donnelly, Shocking Video at Center of Lawsuit Alleging Home Health Aides Abused 99-Year-Old Staten Island Man, SILive, Sept. 9, 2014.

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

September 13, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dead Man Blamed For Speeding Tickets

Speeding CarA dead man in the United Kingdom was accused of being the driver of a car caught on camera speeding. The man’s son Vasille Georgiou blamed three speeding tickets on his father to get out the tickets, two of which occurred after the man’s death. After Georgiou’s blame-the-dead-man scam was discovered, a court sentenced him to four months in jail for his dishonest conduct. Georgiou has also lost his driving privileges for eight months.

See Richard Smith, Driver Who Flicked V-Sign at Speed Camera Blamed His Dead Dad For Speeding Offenses, Mirror, Sept. 5, 2014.

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

September 12, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)