Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Focus on Legacy Management for Artists

PicassoArtist Mark Rothko wrote a will that firmly documented the desire for his estate to remain out of the vaults of the extremely wealthy. After both he and his wife died, however, large parts of his estate were sold to a gallery for deflated prices. The next year, Rothko’s daughter sued and won the case, but most of the damage had already been done with several of the paintings already sold. With cases like Rothko’s, artists and dealers are beginning to focus on legacy management, securing an artistic afterlife. There have been several instances of trustees fighting with inheritors. Consequently, art galleries are making it a point to talk to artists about proper estate planning.

See Harriet Fitch Little, How an Artist’s Legacy Became Big Business, Financial Times, August 26, 2016.

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

August 28, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Inheriting Vacation Homes

Vacation homeVacation homes are places for families to make everlasting memories, but parents are often shocked to learn that their kids are indifferent to their inheritance. With proper planning, however, a vacation home transfer can keep a family’s memories alive for generations to come. Communication amongst the family can help promote more thoughtful decisions for the future of the vacation home—either preserving the home throughout generations or selling it. Vacation homes can involve unwanted maintenance, so families need to discuss any potential concerns.

There are several ways to transfer a vacation home property, including being jointly owned by the children or transferring to a limited liability company or trust. Parents who plan to hold on to the property until they die find it best to place the transfer in trust. Parents can even set aside funds to care for the maintenance on the property, making it more enjoyable for their children.

See Liz Skinner, Surprising Trials of Passing Down Vacation Homes, Investment News, August 23, 2016.

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

August 26, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Probate Exception in Turnover of Estate Property

Estate turnoverIn Pollok v. The Vanguard Group, Inc., an executor filed a petition in California probate court seeking a Turnover of Estate Property. The executor claimed that asset payment to the estate was short $900,000. The financial institute in charge of the payment removed the case to federal court. The probate exception, however, states that the probate and administration of a decedent’s estate is subject to the authority of state probate courts not federal courts. The court ultimately held that federal jurisdiction would interfere with state court proceedings.

See Brian Spiro, Probate Exception Applies to Remand of Turnover Action, Florida Probate Lawyers, August 24, 2016.

August 26, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Resolving Personal Jurisdiction Matters in Florida

JurisdictionA Florida court will typically analyze two questions when resolving issues of personal jurisdiction—whether personal jurisdiction exists over the non-resident defendant under the state long-arm statute, and whether that exercise of jurisdiction violates the Fourteenth Amendment. In Abromats v. Abromats, a Florida court engaged in this analysis, considering a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court determined that it had in rem jurisdiction because it was the trust’s principal place of administration and the trustee had not provided notice otherwise. Also, the court concluded that it had jurisdiction over the defendant, using the analysis above. The conferred jurisdiction of the trust’s principal place of administration satisfied Florida’s long-arm statute.

See Brian Spiro, Pleading Florida’s Long-Arm Statute in Federal Trust Dispute, Florida Probate Lawyers, August 19, 2016.

August 22, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How to Avoid Playing an Estate Detective

DetectiveWhen loved ones leave unsettled, unorganized estates, it leaves ordinary families to play detective in a time of grief and stress. Not only is it hard to track down assets of a family member who dies without a will, it can also be hard to uncover financial assets of those with estate-planning documents because we live in an era of digital assets. Therefore, it is essential to do the proper detective work for any estate plan, including obtaining a family tree for inheritance and executor purposes. Another good idea is to develop spreadsheets detailing the estate’s assets and liabilities to lessen the need for playing detective.

See Jerilyn Klein Bier, Playing Detective, Financial Advisor, August 1, 2016.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) & Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.))  for bringing this article to my attention.

August 17, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Adoption of a Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Law

Digital assets actJared Walker recently published an Article entitled, Return of the UFADAA: How Texas and Other States’ Adoption of the RUFADAA Can Change the Internet, 8 Est. Plan. & Community Prop. L.J., 577 (2016). Provided below is a summary of the Article:

With the creation of the first public internet network in 1991, the world has never been the same. With people tweeting, swiping, snapping, and posting constantly, the fact that Facebook users post on average more than 350 million new photos each day should not impress anyone. Digital assets have three characteristics that make proscribing personal property law to their inheritance difficult: (1) they are a recently new invention; (2) they are intangible; and (3) they have differing contractual rights based on state and federal law. Recently, state legislatures have been trying to propose legislation modeled after the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA), the Privacy Expectations Afterlife and Choices Act (PEAC), and Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), which regulate the rights of the company and a beneficiary to a deceased's digital assets. Currently, a minority of states have adopted a strategy but most are actively debating the adoption of a fiduciary access to digital assets law.

August 17, 2016 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Florida Probate Courts' Authority Over Out-of-State Real Property

Out of stateFlorida probate and trust cases can sometimes involve out-of-state real property. Many people assume that issues dealing with out-of-state real property must be addressed by a court located in the state where the property is located. The distinction, however, is drawn between a court ruling on the real property itself and a court ordering a defendant to act concerning the real property—the former is not permitted, but the latter is. This is referred to as the local action rule. Accordingly, if the real property is the primary dispute with parties seeking to act directly, the action is classified as in rem, proceeding only in the state where the property is located. On the other hand, because Florida courts have personam jurisdiction, they can order a defendant to take action against the land. These suits are grounded in equity, resulting in a defendant who has unlawfully acquired a deed transferring out-of-state real property being ordered to convey the property back to the real owner. 

See Anya Van Veen, Florida Probate Court Can Order Return of Decedent’s Out-of-State Real Property, Florida Probate Lawyers, August 12, 2016.

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

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Blended familiesBlended families are becoming increasingly common, and it is important to plan both your finances and estate accordingly. The most common mistakes are divorcees not updating their wills and changing beneficiaries on accounts upon entering into a new marriage; this can be detrimental to an estate plan. Blended families should choose appropriate executors for their estate that will work together to carry out each individuals’ wishes. They must also find a way to effectively distribute their assets; trusts are great vehicles to solidify the particular outcome of every individual. Furthermore, it is a good idea to consider life insurance as an inheritance for beneficiaries, so that the estate is available for a potential surviving spouse. And, if we are learning from past mistakes, marriage contracts may not be a bad idea for your estate plan either. 

See Tony Maiorino, Five Ways to Navigate Blended-Family Finances, Advisor.ca, August 3, 2016.

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

August 14, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)