Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

A 12-Foot Statute of Paul Walker?

Walker statuteRecently, a group of surfers, who idolize Paul Walker, plead the City Council to resurrect a statute of their hero in San Clemente. A freelance journalist, Chad Kroeger, made the touching pitch last Tuesday in hopes of seeing a legend brought to life. The proponents spoke of Walker as a “unifying figure.” The Article contains a video of the surfers’ pitch to City Council.

See Paul Walker Surfer Bros Beg City Council for 12 Foot Statute . . . ‘A Beacon of Headlights’, TMZ, March 27, 2017.

March 27, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do Your Mutual Funds Have Exposure to Controversial Weapons?

WeaponsOver 6,500 funds that were sold to retail investors around the world have been found to have high exposure to controversial weapons, casting doubt over the asset managers’ efforts to invest responsibly. Specifically, the research reviewed the global mutual funds’ exposure to chemical and biological weapons, cluster munitions, white phosphorus, laser weapons, nuclear weapons, and several more. The research also found that 6,678 mutual funds had at least 5% of their portfolio invested in companies that either manufacture or distribute these weapons. Experts are worried that this callous way to make a profit will do nothing to restore trust in the financial services industry.

See Aime Williams, Mutual Funds Have Exposure to Controversial Weapons, Financial Times, March 26, 2017.

March 27, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Florida Judge Rules that Same Sex Spouses Must Be Added to Death Certificates

Florida judgeAfter the 2015 Obergefell decision, people were asking Florida to change the death certificates that indicated a partner in a same-sex relationship died unmarried without a surviving spouse. Florida refused and stated that they would not do so unless compelled to by an individual court order. Eventually, several widowers filed a lawsuit on behalf of all Floridians whose deceased same-sex spouses’ death certificates recorded them unmarried. The judge ruled in their favor, ordering the state to correct the death certificates and give way to Obergefell’s constitutional command.

See Mark Joseph Stern, Federal Judge Rules Florida Must Add Same Sex Spouses to Death Certificates, Slate, March 24, 2017.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 27, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Book on Experiencing Trusts & Estates

Experiencing trusts Alfred L. Brophy, Deborah Gordon, Norman P. Stein & Caryl Yzenbaard recently published a book entitled, Experiencing Trusts and Estates (2017). Provided below is a summary of the book:

This casebook takes a more experiential approach to the teaching of trusts and estates law. This first edition features recent cases and model documents in almost every chapter of the book; it also preserves many of the most famous and teachable trusts and estates cases. The opening chapters introduce students to issues around planning for incapacity and death and to accessible and understandable material on estate and gift taxes. The remainder of the book focuses on estate planning for low and moderate income individuals, professional responsibility issues as they arise in a trusts and estates practice, and traditional and contemporary cases and documents designed to expose students to the most important concerns that arise in a trusts and estates practice. Each chapter also features extensive notes and questions designed to help lead students through the major issues, and an appendix provides full versions of various historical “celebrity” wills and contemporary model trusts. A voluminous teacher’s manual accompanies the book, with briefs of every principal case and extensive notes designed to aid the teacher in advancing classroom discussion on nearly every note in the casebook. The teacher’s manual also includes additional problems and other materials designed to develop professional skills.

March 27, 2017 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Swiss Clinic Presents Assisted Suicide Simulation Video

Virtual assisted suicideA Swiss clinic, Dignitas, has created a virtual reality assisted suicide film, “The Last Moments,” that represents a person’s experience who wishes to accept the clinic’s services. Over the last two decades, hundreds of people have gone to the clinic to end life on their own terms. The film not only immerses the viewer in the assisted suicide setting, but it also allows the person to make a choice of whether to end their virtual life right then or carry on living. The film depicts two characters: a crying loved one and the woman who presents the viewer their final choice.

See Cheyenne MacDonald, What It’s Really Like to Die: Swiss Assisted Suicide Clinic Dignitas Reveals Harrowing VR Death Stimulator, Daily Mail, March 24, 2017.

March 26, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds's Public Memorial Draws Hundreds

Memorial serviceCarrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds’s public memorial was held yesterday, consisting of singing, dancing, and memories. The memorial was held at Forest Lawn inside a 1,200-seat theater, which was almost at full capacity. Reynolds’s son, Todd Fisher, led the ceremony, featuring a video tribute, dance performances from Reynolds’s studio, and closing words from Dan Aykroyd.

See Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds: Public Memorial Draws Hundreds to Forest Lawn, TMZ, March 25, 2017.

March 26, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

How Afraid of Dying Are You?

Afraid of dyingOddly enough, atheists and extremely religious individuals have something in common: they are among the individuals least afraid of dying. Research suggests that those who lack belief in a higher power seek comfort in death. On the other hand, those who are religious for social or emotional benefits often tend to suffer from the most death anxiety, or persistent fear of one’s own death. The study specifically looked at 100 articles published between 1961 and 2014 to determine how religious beliefs affected death anxiety throughout the years.

See Stacy Liberatore, How Afraid Are YOU of Dying? Researchers Say Atheists and the Most Religious Are Least Scared, Daily Mail, March 24, 2017.

March 25, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Alexia Echevarria Acuses Stepsons of Seizing Her Assets After Husband's Death

AlexiAlexia Echevarria recently filed court documents, alleging that her stepsons are attempting to seize her Miami Beach mansion and Maserati only months after her husband’s death. Both sons are heirs to their father’s estate and co-personal representatives of his probate estate, but Echevarria claims they are clearly ignoring their father’s wishes. The couple’s prenup stated that upon the husband’s death, the Miami Beach house would be transferred solely to his wife.

See Amanda Ulrich, EXCLUSIVE: Real Housewives of Miami Star Alexia Echevarria Accuses Her Stepsons of Trying to Seize Her $3 Million Miami Beach Home and Maserati After Her Husband’s Sudden Death, Daily Mail, March 21, 2017.

March 24, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Phyllis Schlafly's Children Are at War over Their Inheritance

SchlaflyThe children of late conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly are ignited in a legal battle over their inheritance, which has continued ever since their mother expressed her support for Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries. Schlafly’s daughter filed legal documents this week, alleging that her brother sabotaged her inheritance by influencing their mother to change her will before she died. Specifically, the daughter claims that the will was amended to include a clause that states any legal disputes must be paid out of their inheritance. Further, Schlafly’s daughter has fought to ban her mother’s “hand picked successor” from using her mother’s legacy to raise money

See Jennifer Smith, Children of Late Conservative Icon Phyllis Schlafly at War over Their Inheritance and Have Been Fighting Since She Threw Her Support Behind Donald Trump, Daily Mail, March 23, 2017.

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

March 24, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judge Rules Obergefell Applies Retroactively

Common law marriageA South Carolina judge recently ruled that a same-sex couple who split up after thirty years together had a common-law marriage. This potentially marks the first time that a judge determined Obergefell applies retroactively. The case originated when one of the partners asked for a division of property. The opposing party argued that she did not consider their relationship a marriage. Ultimately, the judge concluded that the common-law marriage started when one of the women divorced her husband in 1987. The couple owned a home together and shared joint bank accounts.

See Stephanie Francis Ward, Family Court Judge Rules Obergefell Applies Retroactively, and Women Had a Common-Law Marriage, ABA J., March 20, 2017.

March 24, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)