Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Article on Writing a Definitive Pet Trust

Pet trust beyerRachel Hirschfeld recently published an Article entitled, The Perfect Pet Trust: Saving Your Dog from the Unexpected, 9 Alb. Gov’t L. Rev. 107 (2016). Provided below is a summary of the Article:

This article is about pet trusts, the legal documents that secure an animal's uninterrupted care. The goal is to guide the reader through the process of writing a definitive pet trust, and to highlight the potential mistakes and pitfalls that could invalidate these documents.

What is a pet trust? A pet trust allows an individual, the Pet Owner, to name a Pet Guardian and, if they wish, to leave funds providing for the continued maintenance of animals, in the event that the Pet Owner is unable to.

The American Pet Products Association (“APPA”) estimates that about sixty-two percent of U.S. households have pets, and an astounding $60.59 million dollars will be spent on pets in the United States in 2015. This is three times the amount of money that was spent on pets approximately twenty years ago.

Clearly, times have changed and attitudes are evolving. An ever growing number of Americans consider their pets as more than just animals. According to The Harris Poll, there is a tendency for people to elevate their pets to the status equivalent to that of a family member. Just look at any Pet Owner's smartphone and you will see photos of their pets, along with other family members.

Because people are passionate about their pets, providing uninterrupted care for them is often a concern. When something happens to a Pet Owner, such as an accident, illness, or death, a pet trust becomes especially critical.

Sadly, if there is no legal document or binding plan in place, the court may make decisions for what it terms the abandoned animal.

September 20, 2016 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Critics Outrage Over Spending of Thrifty Librarian's Bequest

Robert morinRecently, a librarian, Robert Morin, bequeathed his $4 million estate to his alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, but critics are now unsatisfied with the way the university has chosen to spend the cash. A large portion—$1 million to be exact—will go toward a new scoreboard at the football stadium; a use that the school says represents Morin’s love for football in the last fifteen months of his life. Others, however, see this spending at odds with the frugal librarian’s life while the library only receives a tenth of that sum.

See Ben Guarino, University to Buy Football Scoreboard with Thrifty Librarian’s Money, Outraging Critics, Independent, September 16, 2016.

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

September 19, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 16, 2016

SEC Seeks $101.2 Million Fraud Payment from Texas Billionaire's Estate

Charles wylyThe United States SEC wants the executor of Charles Wyly’s estate held in contempt for failure to pay the $101.2 million bill for the late Texas businessman’s fraud. Wyly’s son-in-law, Donald Miller, has not paid the sum in his role as executor, which he was ordered to do back in February 2015. Wyly and his brother were involved in fraud, earning millions in undisclosed profits through trading using offshore trusts. The SEC is insisting on payment of the sum or for his executor to be held in contempt.

See Nate Raymond, SEC Eyes Contempt for Wyly Estate’s Failure to Pay $101M, Private Wealth, September 7, 2016.

September 16, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Appointing Representative Upon Death of Florida Probate Litigant

Appointing successorWhat happens when a party in a Florida lawsuit passes away, but the lawsuit continues on? In Gomez v. Fradin, one of the defendants passed away, and the plaintiffs moved to substitute parties pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.260, asking the court to appoint a representative. The court denied the motion, noting that the plaintiffs could petition in the probate court for administration of the decedent’s estate. On appeal, the Florida appellate court noted that Rule 1.260 does not appoint a proper party for substitution and that it does not provide the court an option to appoint a successor for the deceased party. Further, there are strict deadlines in probate litigation, specifically for substitution of parties, so it is best to consult with a probate litigator upon the death of the party.

See Anya Van Veen, Florida Probate Court Must Appoint Representative upon Death of Florida Litigant, Florida Probate Lawyers, September 14, 2016.

September 15, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Statute of Limitations for Adjudication of Paternity in Florida Probate

SOLIn Rose v. Sonson, a Florida court affirmed a dismissal of a petition for paternity in a probate proceeding in which the child’s paternity claim was time barred by the statute of limitations. An adjudication of paternity must be sought within four years from the time the child reaches majority, which is also permitted in a probate estate. The child in this case attempted to have his paternity adjudicated many years after the decedent’s death and after he reached majority. The case reminds us of the detriments individuals face when they sit on their rights.

See Brian Spiro, Statute of Limitations for Paternity in Florida Probate, Florida Probate Lawyers, September 12, 2016.

September 13, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

No Martin Luther King Jr. Artifacts at the New African American History Museum

King's childrenMartin Luther King Jr.’s children called the new National Museum of African American History and Culture with an intriguing invitation. They wanted to display King’s traveling Bible and Nobel Peace Prize, but the museum curator passed on the items, placing them back in the bank vault. King’s children have entered into several legal battles over the last twenty years with close friends and each other. Consequently, it seems to come at no surprise that museums will not display an item given or loaned by the King family. Their reputation for being difficult and litigious is off-putting for most museum leaders, making it difficult to enjoy his legacy. 

See Geoff Edgers, Why No Major Martin Luther King Jr. Artifacts Will Be at the New African American Museum, Washington Post, September 11, 2016.

Special thanks to Richard E. Mattersdorff (Attorney, El Paso, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.  

September 13, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Conferring a Power of Appointment

POAA power of appointment (POA) is a power that a trust beneficiary has to direct to or for whom trust property will pass, representing a non-fiduciary power. When conferring a POA, it is important to use clear language that specifies when the power is exercisable, to or for whom it is exercisable, what property may be disposed of, and what procedure must be followed. There are also several important estate and gift tax consequences that follow based on the type of POA identified. Ultimately, a POA is the most direct and efficient way for a property owner to confer power on another to determine the destination of property.

See Charles A. Redd, Tips from the Pros: Don’t Overlook the Power of Powers, Wealth Management, August 25, 2016.

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

September 6, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

All the Tips Estate Planners Want You to Know

Estae plannersYou must plan ahead for your belongings to be allocated appropriately postmortem. Before you start this process, there are several concepts and issues that your estate planners hope you grasp. Estate planners are there to help you think about tough stages like dying, encouraging you to plan ahead and alleviating any stress from family members. Additionally, they want you to benefit from creating a will and inventory for your assets. Understanding the property tax exemptions is important knowledge for your executor, so make it a goal to simplify any complicated rules. Estate planners should also present long-term care options that will provide comfort while securing your estate.

See Tanya Tucker, 7 Things Your Estate Planner Wants You to Know Before You Die, Trust Advisor, August 31, 2016.

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

September 1, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 29, 2016

A New $100 Billion Business: Endowment Management

EndowmentThere is huge competition for money managers fighting to oversee endowments. The business has grown into an almost $100 billion business, attracting stiff competition amongst banks, consultants, and boutiques. This area of money management represents a rare area of potential growth for those currently competing with index- and computer-driven strategies. University endowments also offer access to wealthy benefactors that can become future clients.    

See Michael McDonald, Wall Street Redoubles Fight to Manage $100 Billion at Endowments, Bloomberg, August 29, 2016.

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

August 29, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

RICO Claims Can be Brought Against Estate Executor

RICO claimRICO charges are normally used as a civil remedy in claims of significant criminal activity and provide for treble damages. Recently, the Second Circuit ruled that RICO claims can also be brought in connection with unlawful activities by an executor of an estate.

In King v. Wang, before and during the administration of Wang’s estate, the Defendant allegedly engaged in a scheme to deprive the Plaintiffs of their expected inheritance. The Plaintiffs filed RICO claims. The Second Circuit affirmed federal jurisdiction over the claims, determining that the claims fell outside the probate exception. 

See Jeffrey Skatoff, Can a RICO Claim be Brought Against an Executor of an Estate?, Florida Probate Lawyers, August 27, 2016.

August 29, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Professional Responsibility, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)