Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sumner Redstone's Competency at Issue

Sumner Further competency questions about Sumner Redstone are arising after he suddenly changed the succession plan for his $40 billion media empire. Mr. Dauman and two other Viacom directors asserted that Redstone’s competency along with his daughter’s manipulation caused him to oust Mr. Dauman and George Abrams, both Viacom executives and members of the board of National Amusements, from the trust.

 Sumner’s daughter, Shari Redstone, is being accused of influencing her father to gain control of his companies. Worried about such inconsistency with his intent, both sides presented evidence to prove Sumner’s competency and any undue influence. Not all influence is undue, however, it depends on Ms. Redstone’s motive—does her desire to influence meet her own needs or her father’s. This question along with many more will help to determine Sumner’s civil competence.

See Emily Steel, New Questions Arise Over Sumner Redstone’s Competency After He Alters Trust, New York Times, May 21, 2016.

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

May 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Tom Benson Leaving Nothing to His Daughter and Grandchildren

Tom bensonTom Benson has expressed his intent to leave nothing to his daughter or grandchildren due to their continuing hostility. He further wishes to have his third wife, Gayle, become the successor to his business empire, taking sole control of the Saints and Pelicans. Consequently, the scorned heirs tried to declare his incompetency along with undue influence from his wife, alleging memory lapses and mistaken identity. This lawsuit was rejected. They hope for a further opportunity to bring these issues to light.

See Mike Triplett, Saints/Pelicans Owner Tom Benson Wants ‘Zero’ Left in Trust to Daughter, Grandchildren, ESPN, May 20, 2016.

May 22, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Some Of The Ins And Outs Of Italy's New Civil Union Law

ItalyRecently Italy joined the ranks of nations that recognize same-sex civil unions. The law is a major change for Italian law and comes with loads of new laws to go along with the new found legal status. Provided below are some of the key point:

  • Those entering into a civil union are obligated to provide assistance and support to the other member of the union. In addition, partners are granted the right to inherit in much the same way as a spouse.
  • The law specifically denies the right of partners of a union from adopting step-children even if the assumed a parental role.
  • The choice of surname for is left up to the individual partners. Italy has strict registration requirements when it comes to names so allowing those in the civil union to have a choice is a major step forward.
  • No requirements regarding fidelity are imposed on those in civil unions. This will result in legal separations having no need to blame a party it is the result of cheating on the other.

See, What Italy’s New Civil Unions Law Entails, Corriere Della Sera, May 12, 2016.


May 13, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Boozy Lunch Leads To Lost Corpse In Germany

BeerWhile making a road trip to Poland from Italy it is natural to want to stop for a bit to unwind from the journey and take a little break. But one man decided he needed something extra and decided to have a drink or two to celebrate making it to his halfway mark in Germany. But before he could get in his, presumably, hard earned break he had to park his vehicle which just happened to a hearse complete with a corpse and coffin. Problem was he ended up forgetting where he parked the vehicle which lead to a day long search before the car as found about two miles from where the man claimed to have left the hearse. Police suspect that the man's apparent embrace of the phrase "it's five o'clock somewhere" when he had his meal contributed to the memory lapse. But, in any case, all ended well although there might be some doubts about the driver's future employment.

See, Undertaker loses hearse, body during boozy lunch, Fox News, May 11, 2016

May 12, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Inmate Claims To Be Son of Prince

GeneticsThe death of legendary musician Prince shocked the world and set off a scramble to find his various heirs due to the lack of a will. Until now, it has been assumed by many that he was survived by no relations closer than his full blooded sister and cluster of half-siblings which is the same tack that a Minnesota court took when it stated all possible heirs had been contacted. However, a man is claiming to be the son of Prince from a relation the signer had with the man's mother before he shot to stardom. The man is currently being held in federal prison over gun charges and when reached by the media his family declined to issue any comment about the claim. However, despite the Minnesota court announcing that all heirs were located, it ordered the preservation of a DNA sample that can be used to test any familial claims. But, at this time, no test has been done to confirm or deny the man's claim.

See Sara Sidner, Prince estate: Colorado inmate says he is singer's son, sole heir, CNN, May 1, 2016.

May 12, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New Twist As Benson Seeks To Transfer Team Shares

BensonA new twist emerged in the court case involving the transfer of shares of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans from a trust created for the benefits of the daughter and grandchildren of embattled billionaire Tom Benson. Lawyers opposing the transfer have asked the federal judge overseeing the case to block the transfer since the NFL and NBA have yet to approve the transfer of the shares. However, lawyers for Benson fought back claiming that the terms of the trust allowed for the removable of the shares in the teams and said the motion was without merit. The issue in the case revolves around the exchange of promissory notes backed by the teams themselves in exchange for the non-voting shares held by the trust. The elder Benson seeks to leave ownership to his current wife which upends previous succession plans involving Benson's daughter and grandchildren. No word on when a ruling will be issued on the motion t dismiss.

See Katherine Sayre, Saints, Pelicans owner Tom Benson's ownership swap needs NFL, NBA approval, New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 9, 2016.

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

May 10, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Young And Want A House? Better Hope Parents Can Help

HouseHome ownership has long been a measuring stick of success in life as those able to buy are generally considered as having a good job and being financially responsible. But a recent study has revealed that more goes into getting a house than just having stability. Specifically, those that have financial help from their parents are more easily able to buy a home than those without assistance from family. The study looked at those between age 20-49 that had been renters one year and owners the next. It found that receiving at least $5000 from parents in the previous two years increased the likelihood of buying by %23. In addition, the author' found that race played a difference when it comes to home ownership and parental support which they tie to the historical housing market discrepancy between groups. The author's also expressed concern that the ability for younger generations to purchase homes without help could lead to problems for Baby Boomers who expect to sell their houses but may end up hurting to find buyers. But only time will tell what the future of the housing market for younger generations might be.

See Emily Badger, How your parents affect your chances of buying a home, The Washington Post, May 4, 2016.

Special thanks to John Stromeyer for bringing this article to my attention.

May 9, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Everyone, Have A Drink On Me...

DeathFunerals have a tendency to be dreary affairs with the usual mix of those that are visibly distraught alongside the stiff upper lip types that carefully mask whatever emotion they might feel in the moment. In any event, it is not a fun time. But one man, a funeral co-op manager no less, wants to make sure his funeral is more like a party and has designed his own coffin that will have shots arranged along the top to let his would be mourners relax a little. The idea behind the concept is to show people that their funerary options do have to follow the traditional concepts of a memorial service. While black clothing and misty eyed mourners are not likely to go away anytime soon, the ability to interject some levity into the process is a growing desire for some as this concept coffin shows.  With America facing a growing number of elderly, it might be time to start getting used to nontraditional memorials as more and more people seek to have a sendoff that is more like a party than, well, a funeral.

See, Specially designed coffin to offer whisky to mourners, Tamworth Herald, May 9, 2016.

May 9, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dispute Over Naming Rights Ensnares University Of Houston

ArticleIn big time philanthropy, naming rights for buildings is one of the big incentives that comes along with donating what is usually millions of dollars. But, eventually, those generously philantrophised buildings are eyed by schools as a new revenue source which is increasingly leading to battles with heirs of past benefactors. This is the dilemma that currently engulfs the University of Houston as it seeks to rename it's basketball arena as part of a $20 million donation package. However, the heirs of the current namesake are up in arms over the proposal arguing that the agreement the university had with their father kept the arena under his name as long as it stands. Currently, a hearing is scheduled on May 10 for a suit that is pending to stop the school from going forward with any change of name. This case will likely be watched with great interest by other organizations as it is more than just UofH who is seeking to go down that path of lucrative new naming right deals.

See, U. of Houston Donor’s Heirs Sue Over Plan to Rename Arena, Philanthropy.com, May 5, 2016.

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

May 6, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Virginia Faces Loss Of Historical Sites As Ages Takes Their Toll

HistoryVirginia is a state that downright seeps with historical significance with sites ranging from Civil War battlefields to the homes of U.S. Presidents with many other wonderful and ancient (as far as our country goes) but lesser known locations in addition. Among those other treasures of the past are sites that are under great threat from modern development as well as the ravages of time and are only now having protection sought. One example of this is a small cemetery in Charlottesville which was founded after the Civil War by freed slaves which was later abandoned and largely forgotten. However, interest in sites such as those is growing as local citizens seek to protect their heritage with the help of local government and organizations dedicated to preservation. As our nation faces growth and change that is unprecedented in human history, it is of great importance to protect areas of historical significance. Let us hope that more dedicated individuals follow the example of those in Virginia when it comes to making sure that parts of out shared past remain as monuments to those who came before.

See Joe Heim, Virginia’s most endangered places include black cemeteries, a legislative office complex, and a former slave dwelling, The Washington Post, May 3, 2016.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret for bringing this article to my attention.

May 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)