Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Man Shoots Family Over Inheritance

Crime scene tapeLast Friday Riverside County Authorities reported that a La Quinta man killed his brother, shot his sister, then turned the gun on himself during a dispute over their mother’s inheritance. 

Robert Bertrand, 55, and his siblings had a meeting regarding their mother’s home.  When the argument turned sour, Robert shot and killed his 61-year-old brother, and then shot his sister.  Despite her injuries, she drove away before stopping.  La Quinta police spotted her vehicle when they were responding to a separate traffic report in the same neighborhood.

See Veronica Rocha, Man Kills Brother, Shoots Sister Then Kills Himself Over Inheritance, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 24, 2014.

October 29, 2014 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LegalZoom Estate Planning Services Coming to Sam’s Club

WillAs I have previously discussed, LegalZoom has begun to carry out the planned expansion of the legal services they offer. Through a recently announced partnership with Sam’s Club, LegalZoom is bringing discounted estate planning services to Sam’s Club members. Members will have the option to purchase a bundled will or trust package for $299, which will include a limited revision service for a year. If the members need services outside of the packages, then they can purchase them at a 25% discount.

See Debra Cassens Weiss, LegalZoom Products Will be Sold at a Discount Through Sam’s Club, ABA Journal, Oct. 27, 2014.

October 29, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Views Around the World

Gavel-marriageAs I have previously discussed, the Supreme Court of the United States refused to review rulings that overturned multiple state bans on same-sex marriage. There are countries throughout the world that have already resolved this legal issue and have come to accept same-sex marriage in their culture. Some are more recent, such as Britain where same-sex marriage has only been legal since March of this year, but civil partnerships had been recognized for years prior. Other countries have had a longer history of legal recognition of same-sex marriage, such as The Netherlands, which became the first country in the world in 2001.

However, the change in marriage laws did not create a completely sweeping change of mindsets, and same-sex couples still face challenges in these countries. In Britain, a same-sex couple reported that while they did not have any major problems with the process of obtaining a fiancée’s visa, the forms included the terms “bride” and “groom” rather than an option for two brides or grooms or a gender neutral term like “spouse.” Despite the Netherlands history making legalization over a decade ago, it can still be difficult for same-sex couples in some areas of the country to find a venue for their marriage, and not all areas have accepted the practice of same-sex marriage.

See Gregory Katz, Associated Press, Before US, Gay Marriage Accepted in Parts of World, Yahoo News, Oct. 17, 2014

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

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

Cemeteries Moving Upward

CemeteryAround the world, in densely populated cities and countries, the availability of land is diminishing and cemeteries are reaching capacity. In Beirut, Lebanon, the unavailability of burial plots has resulted in multiple family members being buried in a single grave. In Mexico City, remains are cycled in graves and years after a burial the remains are exhume to make room. To address this land scarcity problem, a trend is being seen of cemeteries built up instead of out. The Memorial Necropole Ecumenica in Brazil stands 32 stories tall and is currently the tallest cemetery. In Israel, the country's government has implemented a plan to address land shortages and a recently built concrete vertical cemetery is intended to address the problem.

See Associated Press, Raising the Dead: Lack of Space Forces Cemeteries Skywards, NBC News, Oct. 17, 2014.

October 28, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Joan Rivers Leaves Over $125 Million to Daughter

Joan_RiversAs I have previously discussed, Comedian Joan Rivers passed away at 81-years-old early last month after complications arose from a routine outpatient surgery. A large portion of River's estate will pass to her daughter Melissa Rivers. Melissa is expected to receive over $85 million and River's condo valued at $40 million. In addition, Cooper, Melissa's son who is 13-years-old, will also likely receive an inheritance from his grandmother's estate.

See David K. Li, Melissa Rivers to Inherit Over $125 Million of Joan River's Estate, New York Post, Oct. 23, 2014.

October 23, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

FATCA Enforcement Efforts Continue to Increase

OfficerAs I have previously discussed, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires financial institutions to report large accounts held by U.S. account holders to ensure compliance with U.S. tax laws. Commitment to enforcement has been demonstrated through the use of investigative resources to indict alleged violators. Enforcement actions continue to increase, and the IRS has begun using customs holds as another method of catching those attempting to avoid taxes through foreign accounts.

See Sean M. Golding, FBAR & FATCA Tax Attorney – IRS Will Use Customs Holds to Facilitate FATCA Compliance, PR Log, Oct. 14, 2014.

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

October 23, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Son Accused of Shooting Parents, Sister Over Inheritance

JailA 19-year-old Oklahoma College Student has been arrested and charged in connection with a shooting that resulted in the death of his immediate family. Prosecutors believe that Alan Hruby shot and killed his parents and sister in order to inherit enough cash to pay off a debt he owed to a loan shark.

See Associated Press, Oklahoma Teen Accused of Killing Family Was Hoping to Inherit Money, KEYE TV, Oct. 15, 2014.

October 22, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Documents Faked to Steal from Dead Woman

TheftPhiladelphia resident Dorothy Kennedy died at age 79 without any heirs in 2010. Her property, including her house and car, were going to pass to the state, but instead her neighbor, Romanoff Quarlas, concocted an elaborate scheme with the help of his attorney to become the administrator of Kennedy's estate and inherit the property, according to police. The alleged plan involved the assistance of two funeral directors, a real estate agent, and a car salesman to fake documents that resulted in Quarlas becoming administrator and receiving the house and car. After four years, the police discovered the scheme and plan to charge the men with multiple criminal charges including conspiracy and theft.

See Meg Wagner, Band of 6 Philadelphia Crooks Concoct Elaborate Plot to Steal Dead Woman's House, Car: Police, New York Daily News, Oct. 18, 2014.

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

October 20, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Las Vegas Ready for Same-Sex Weddings

CoupleAs I have previously discussed, the 9th circuit struck down the same-sex marriage bans of Nevada and Idaho earlier this month. Leading up to the decision, Las Vegas was gearing up for same-sex weddings. The city known for high wedding volumes and large variety of wedding options, including of course an Elvis impersonator officiant, was ready to facilitate legal same-sex marriages even before the ruling. The county had already changed their marriage licenses to be gender neutral, and individual chapels made sure their photographers knew how to take to perfect wedding day photos when both members of the couple are wearing white wedding dresses.

See Kimberly Pierceall, Land of Chapels Ready for Gay Weddings, The Fresno Bee, Oct. 8, 2014.

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

October 19, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 17, 2014

John Wayne Trademark Case Dismissed

John_WayneAs I have previously discussed, the family of movie legend John Wayne is in a trademark battle over the word “Duke.” The family's attempts to market a line of bourbon under the brand name “Duke,” have received backlash from Duke University. The family's attempt to have the trademark issue resolved in a Santa Ana, California federal district court resulted in the judge dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction. However, the family is viewing this as just one battle in a larger fight for the rights to the name “Duke.”

See Emily Foxhall, John Wayne Family Loses Round 1 to Duke University in Trademark Fight, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 2, 2014.

October 17, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)