Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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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)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Headstones Provoke Fight Between Catholic Church And Monument Association

HeadstoneThe Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark New Jersey operates almost a dozen cemeteries which contain the remains of over one million people.  Therefore it was a natural step when the diocese began to sell headstones for use in the cemeteries, however, the program quickly fell afoul of the Monument Builders Association of New Jersey. The association brought the diocese to court arguing the church had an unfair advantage due to its tax exempt status but lost at trial and on appeal. But the association managed to convince legislators to craft a bill that, while neutral on its face, would solely prevent the church owned cemeteries from selling headstones. Currently the issue is before a federal court with the diocese arguing that the bill is an unconstitutional act of economic cronyism and protectionism that serves no government interest. This case, if resolved in favor the diocese, could have a big impact nationwide as non profit cemeteries enter into new zones in order to increase revenue for the upkeep of cemeteries.

See Kelly Phillips Erb, A Grave Decision: Archdiocese Files Suit Against New Jersey Over Headstone Statute, Forbes, August 21, 2015.

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

August 22, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Battle Over Estate Of Jimi Hendrix Comes To An End

ArticleJimi Hendrix is a musical legend and the value of his estate, currently $80 million, is in proportion with his fame. However, management of the estate has been at contest since the death of Jimi's father who left control of the estate in his will to Janie Hendrix, Jimi's adopted sister. Leon Hendrix, Janie's brother, unsuccessfully challenged the will in 2004 and then began to print unauthorized t-shirts of the deceased musician. As a result, he was sued for trademark infringement by his sister and was hit with an injunction by a federal court to stop production of the merchandise. Recently both sides reached an out of court settlement for an undisclosed amount which seemingly brings the battle between siblings to an end.

See Paul de Barros, Latest Jimi Hendrix family feud resolved in settlement, Seattle Times, August 13, 2015.

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

August 21, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)