Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, May 6, 2016

Managing Pop Culture Estates

CobainThis article discusses the business of managing the estates of pop culture icons.  “Few people understand that better than Jeffrey Jampol, an LA-based specialist whose JAM Inc manages the rock estates of Otis Redding, Kurt Cobain, the Doors, Rick James, Ramones and Muddy Waters among others, as well as advising the co-executors of Michael Jackson’s estate.”  There is a lot of difficult work that goes into the process of trying to prevent or reduce the type of legal chaos that often unfolds in the probate process after a wealthy celebrity passes away.  Oftentimes the estates of famous celebrities keep earning income long after they pass away from things like trademarks, royalties, and brands.  The rock legacy business that is described in this article is only going to continue to grow in the future. 

See Edward Helmore, ‘This is the pop culture legacy business’: JAM Inc manages artists after death, The Guardian, May 6, 2016.

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

May 6, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How An Estate Sale Business Can Be Built By Franchising A Name And Brand

Estate sale businessThe estate sale business is booming and is still very unregulated.  When a person passes away many of their possessions will often need to be sold quickly.  This is leading to an increasing demand for estate sale businesses that do the work of selling off a deceased person’s possessions and charging a commission.  There are some entrepreneurs who are now franchising brand names for estate sale businesses so that consumers can be more confident that they are dealing with a reputable company.  This article discusses the growing number of franchised estate sale businesses that are popping up all across the country.  “More than 12,000 estate sale companies operate across the country, with more than 98 percent of them mom-and-pop businesses, estimates Micky McQuade, chief executive of EstateSales.net, a listing site for estate sales.”

See Janet Morrissey, Building an Estate Sale Business by Franchising a Name and Brand, The New York Times, May 4, 2016.

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

May 5, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Book On Wills And Estate Administration

ArticleWills and Estate Administration by Kenneth Vercammen has been published by American Bar Association Publishing and is available in print and as an ebook. Provided below is a description of the book:

Straightforward and to-the-point, Wills and Estate Administration provides step-by-step guidance that firms can use to handle all aspects of an estates practice, from initial client intake to closing the file. Topics are defined in six parts for ease of use:

  • Preparation for Wills/Estate Planning Interviews
  • Interviewing Clients
  • Additional Estate Planning Issues
  • Estate Administration
  • Guardianship of Disabled or Incompetent Parents
  • Marketing Your Wills and Estate Administration Practice

May 5, 2016 in Books, Estate Administration, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Some Things To Keep In Mind When Asked To Serve As Executor

WillsThe task of being an executor of an estate is no small matter since it entails a tremendous amount of responsibility over the property of another while potentially being exposed to personal liability. Even when the estate is small those issues remain and may require the executor to resolve thorny questions with no easy solutions. In addition, the strong tendency to ask a close family member or friend to fill the position, while seemingly a good option, can actually be problematic since the office holder could feel pressured to act in a certain manner due to their close relationship to those with an interest in the estate. However, each situation is unique and in some cases the appointment of someone close to the main parties can be an advantage. Because of that, the most important thing to do when considering who to appoint as an executor is the look at the entire situation including complexity of the estate, the potential for conflict, and the relationship of the potential appointee to the would be beneficiaries. There are a range of options to choose from when it comes to estate administration so do not feel bound one particular path.

See Murray Becotte, When You're Asked To Be An Executor, The Chronicle-Journal, May 2, 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 4, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 25, 2016

New Book On Texas Jury Charges For Family And Probate Law

ArticleThe 2016 edition of Texas Pattern Jury Charges—Family & Probate has recently been published by Texas Bar Books and is now available. Provided below is a description of the book:

The assistance that this excellent resource offers extends beyond providing definitions, instructions, and questions useful for drafting charges in your jury trials. Many practitioners find it very helpful in preparing findings of fact and conclusions of law in nonjury cases and in identifying issues and evidence requirements in family and probate cases generally. Comments provide a ready reference to the source of each charge and instructions on when to use it.

Texas Pattern Jury Charges—Family & Probate digital product contains the entire book as a hyperlinked and word-searchable PDF file. All charge language is included as MS Word files linked to the comments for quick retrieval and assembly of jury charges. Texas and federal case citations are linked to the online version of the Casemaker Web Library. Texas and federal statute citations are linked to the main code section cited via Casemaker online.

April 25, 2016 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 22, 2016

CLE On Advanced Planning And Probate In Texas For 2016

CLEThe State Bar of Texas is hosting a CLE entitled, Advanced Estate Planning And Probate 2016, which will take place on June 22-24, 2016 at the La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio. Provided below is a description of the event:

Many issues that arise in a practice involving wills, trusts, and estates fall somewhere in between the basic “mom and pop” will or independent estate administration and the more sophisticated matters such as GRIT’s and GRAT’s. The goal of the intermediate course is to offer practitioners practical advice on either less-routine matters or those which may be beyond the basics but not as challenging as topics covered by the advanced course. This course will teach you how to dissect a will, so that you will be able to recognize (and avoid) the deficiencies of the Office Max or Legal Zoom form wills. For those with a probate practice, the course will cover from head to toe the still very common heirship proceeding, and will also address the sometimes difficult task of collecting assets in the administration of estates, including one talk devoted specifically to handling real estate in planning and administrations. For those whose practice is more geared to estate planning, the course will address marital property agreements and dealing with international assets. In addition, the course will address the ever-growing area of special needs planning and incapacity planning. This course is designed to be both a “stand-alone” training ground to propel your practice to the next level and also an ideal complement and primer to the Advanced Course which follows it.

April 22, 2016 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Financial Records That Should Be Saved Or Destroyed

DocumentsThis article discusses what kinds of financial records people should keep or discard.  There are certain documents that should be kept permanently and in their original form “including marriage, birth, adoption, citizenship and death certificates; diplomas and transcripts; veteran’s papers; health records (immunizations and surgeries); Social Security cards.” People should also keep and update important estate planning documents.  Certain documents that will only need to be kept for a certain period of time can be stored digitally online.  It is a good idea to purchase an accordion file folder with tabs for each month to deal with documents with term dates that need to be replaced regularly.  The documents that should be shredded are those that are either not important for keeping or can be easily retrievable by some other means. 

See Eleanor Blayney, What Financial Records to Keep – and What to Shred, The Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2016.

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

April 9, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

New Article On Probate Lending

Pen and PaperAndrea Cann Chandrasekher (Professor, University of California, Davis - School of Law) & David Horton (Professor, University of California, Davis - School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Probate Lending, 126 Yale L. J. (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the article:

One of the most controversial trends in American civil justice is litigation lending: corporations paying plaintiffs a lump sum in return for a stake in a pending lawsuit. Although causes of action were once inalienable, many jurisdictions have abandoned this bright-line prohibition, opening the door for businesses to invest in other parties’ claims. Although some courts, lawmakers, and scholars applaud litigation lenders for helping wronged individuals obtain relief, others accuse them of exploiting low-income plaintiffs and increasing court congestion.

This Article reveals that a similar phenomenon has quietly emerged in the probate system. Recently, companies have started to make “probate loans”: advancing funds to heirs or beneficiaries to be repaid from their interest in a court-supervised estate. The Article sheds light on this shadowy practice by empirically analyzing 594 probate administrations from a major California county. It finds that probate lending is a lucrative business. Nevertheless, it also concludes that some of the strongest rationales for banning the sale of causes of action — concerns about abusive transactions and the corrosive effect of outsiders on judicial processes — apply to transfers of inheritance rights. The Article thus suggests several ways to regulate this nascent industry.

April 5, 2016 in Articles, Estate Administration, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Article On Probate-Error Costs

ArticlePictureMark Glover (Professor, University of Wyoming College of Law) recently published an article entitled, Probate-Error Costs, 49 Conn. L. Rev. (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the article:

This Article uses decision theory to more fully explain both why the conventional law focuses on minimizing the risk of false-positive outcomes and why the modern law should be crafted to minimize total probate-error risk. Decision theory suggests that, to identify the proper goal of a decision-making process, one must compare the error costs of false-positive outcomes and false-negative outcomes. If error costs are symmetric, then the decision-making process should be designed to minimize the total risk of error. However, if error costs are asymmetric, then the decision-making process should be designed to minimize the more costly type of error.

This Article is the first to systematically analyze relative error costs within the context of will authentication. Specifically, it argues that probate-error costs were previously asymmetric, with false-positive outcomes being more costly than false-negative outcomes, and it therefore explains why the conventional law minimizes the risk of false-positive outcomes at the expense of an increased risk of false-negative outcomes. Furthermore, the Article argues that probate-error costs have changed so that they are now more symmetric. The recognition of this shift bolsters the reform movement’s argument that the goal of will authentication should be increased accuracy.

April 1, 2016 in Articles, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

CLE On Probate Bonds And What You Need To Know

CLEThe American Bar Association is presenting a CLE entitled, Probate Bonds: What You Need to Know, which will take place on March, 16, 2016, from 1:00-2:30PM Eastern, Online. Provided below are some details about the event:

Probate bond claims range from assets missing from an estate to beneficiaries and creditors who are upset to fiduciaries who simply have not accounted for estate assets. Of course, it is up to the surety to save the day. Based on the second edition of The Law of Probate Bonds, this webinar is an essential program for both entry-level and experienced attorneys and claim professionals, as well as for general practitioners who want to understand this complex area of law.

March 3, 2016 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)