Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Charles Manson: 10 Days and He’s Dust

1120-charles-manson-photos-footer-3Charles Manson’s body will be kept in Corcoran State Prison for up to ten days if left unclaimed. If no one comes for the body, then the prison has the option to bury or cremate the remains. Cremation is the more likely option, as sources indicate the prison is not interested in taking the time or making the effort to bury Manson’s corpse. Any property Manson left behind will be forfeited to the state, and any funds he had will be used to cover the expense of cremation.

See Charles Manson: 10 Days and He’s Dust, TMZ, November 20, 2017.

Special thanks to Molly Neace for bringing this article to my attention.

November 20, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

What If You Knew Alzheimer’s Was Coming for You?

Alzheimer_brainLast week, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates used his blog to share with his readers that some of the men in his “family have suffered from Alzheimer’s.” This means that Gates may have an increased risk of suffering from dementia. In the post, Gates voiced his desire to help develop “a more reliable, affordable and accessible diagnostic — such as a blood test.” To encourage new research, he also announced that he would be donating $100 million to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

See Pagan Kennedy What If You Knew Alzheimer’s Was Coming for You?, The New York Times, November 17, 2017.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

November 20, 2017 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE on Water Rights in California

0000000 CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Water Rights in California, which will take place on Friday, December 01, 2017, at the Courtyard by Marriott Sacramento Cal Expo in Sacramento, CA. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Get the Tools You Need to Successfully Tackle Challenging Water Law Cases

The fight for "liquid gold" is getting ugly. With developers, government officials, energy companies, tribal leaders, utility companies, farmers and others putting water in their crosshairs, more and more attorneys are taking on these complicated cases. This focused legal program is packed with the latest and greatest legal strategies for protecting your client's water rights and use. Whether you're an experienced water law attorney or new to the practice area, this program will provide you with practical tools to tackle water law cases. Register today!

  • Gain the tools you need to handle evaluation, development, adjudication, legislation and acquisition of water rights.
  • Get the fundamentals of water law down, learn critical terminology and find out how to simplify the adjudication process.
  • Hear the most recent case law, review recent legislative updates and understand the interaction between federal, state and local water law regulations.
  • Learn how to evaluate the type, status and validity of water rights.
  • Discover real-world techniques for handling leasing, modification, exchange, transfer, purchase and sale of water rights.
  • Find out practical strategies for handling ownership and lease disputes, condemnation disputes, easement challenges and application disputes from experienced attorney faculty.
  • Examine emerging hydraulic fracturing, tribal and geothermal water law issues.
  • Overcome ethical challenges of representing more than one client in a river system.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level seminar is designed for those who are involved in water right disputes and transactions, use, regulation and protection of water resources. The following should attend:

  • Attorneys
  • Government Officials
  • Engineers
  • Regulators
  • Energy Companies
  • Water Management Specialists
  • Real Estate Developers
  • Landmen
  • Paralegals

Course Content

  1. Prior Appropriation Water Law Made Simple
  2. Legislation, Regulation and Case Law Update
  3. Water Rights Evaluations
  4. Handling the Application, Lease, Transfer and Sale of Water Rights
  5. Handling Water Rights Disputes: Adjudication Procedures and Litigation Tips
  6. Current Issues, Legal Challenges and Recent Trends
  7. Ethics and Water Law

Continuing Education Credit

American Association of Professional Landmen – AAPL: 6.00 *

American Institute of Certified Planners – AICP: 6.00

Continuing Legal Education

Credit Hrs State 
CLE 6.00 -  CA*
CLE 6.00 -  OH*

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.60

* denotes specialty credits

November 20, 2017 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Land Redistribution in South Africa within the Radical Economic Transformation Framework

South-africa-safaris-header-1024x505Alain Ndedi, Florence Nisabwe, & Polycarpe Feussi  recently posted an Article entitled, Land Redistribution in South Africa within the Radical Economic Transformation Framework, Wills, Trusts, & Estate Law eJournal (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

During the national liberation struggle the African National Congress’s strategic objective was the transfer of state power into the hands of the democratic majority. The phrase ‘radical economic transformation (RET) has entered South Africa’s daily lexicon in 2017 with medias, academics and even using the concept for new measures used by the African National Congress to uplift the poor of the poors in South Africa. But what is RET from agricultural perspective? Does it mean taking from the haves and giving it to the have nots Mugabe style, or is it simply a synonym for inclusive growth?

According to Van Zyl (2017), Radical economic transformation means an economy in which:
1. Goods and property cannot be confiscated for political purposes and citizens are secure in the knowledge that their property is safe.
2. Taxes are low and are not used to fund massive bureaucracies. Citizens are allowed to keep the more of the money they earn.
3. Buyers and sellers trading freely in an open market without Government interference determine the prices of goods and services. Arbitrarily high prices are avoided.
4. Professional development is simple and reasonable without paternal government supervision. ‘Licenses’ and ‘clearance certificates’ would no longer be required for people to do something they are perfectly capable of doing without state interference.
5. Purchasing smallholdings becomes the same as any other property transaction with no need to ask for ‘permission’ from government to subdivide agricultural land.
6. Starting businesses is easy removing the need to submit complex forms and documents mandated by financial services regulations or have to adhere to arbitrary zoning bylaws.
7. Corruption is substantially reduced. Less political involvement in the economy would reduce the possibility of cronyism and unethical ‘tenderpreneurship’.

A recent report by Landbou.com (2017) asserted that black people already own more than half of all agricultural land in two of South Africa’s most fertile provinces: the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. This is according to an audit of land ownership, to be released this week. According to the report, landowners who are not white own 26.7% of agricultural ground and control more than 46% of South Africa’s agricultural potential. These statistics are contained in a comprehensive land audit undertaken by economist Johann Bornman in partnership with magazine Landbouweekblad and Agri SA, which, with a large donation, made it possible to obtain data about hundreds of thousands of land transactions from the deeds office, as well as geographical data.

An audit of this type has never been done in South Africa and is being released amid huge political pressure to increase the pace of land reform. For Ernest Pringle, chairperson of Agri SA’s policy committee on agricultural development, his organisation realised long ago that a comprehensive land audit was imperative because policy being driven by perception and emotion, instead of facts was not rational. A disturbing fact that emerged during the audit is that available agricultural land had declined by 4% over the past 23 years, from 97.03 million hectares to 93.25 million hectares.

Unfortunately, Ndedi and Kok (2017) asserted that for radical economic transformation to be fully implemented, it is necessary for the Constitution’s commitment to ‘just and equitable’ compensation for the acquisition of land for land reform purposes should be codified and should replacement for market-based valuations of land. The process must be facilitated and accelerated by the passing of updated expropriation legislation by Parliament, and the Government should take heed of the Constitutional Court’s finding that agreement on the quantum of fair compensation is not a pre-condition for land redistribution to take place and should never pay a premium in purchasing land for the purpose of land reform. (Ndedi and Kok, 2017) According to the author, the success of land redistribution will be improved if there is greater oversight over land, farming equipment and technical skills transfer to the beneficiaries of land reform. (Ndedi and Kok, 2017) Substantial investment in irrigation infrastructure is required, as is the resolving of water rights and the control over the allocation of water rights, and as is greater investment in innovative market linkages for small-scale farmers in communal and land reform areas. Furthermore, institutional capacity needs to be improved with regards to accurate record keeping and the removal of uncertainties with regard to the roles of various overlapping public sector bodies involved in land reform. 

This article just intends to develop a framework for better implementation of the radical economic transformation from an agricultural perspective.

November 20, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Article on States and Their American Indian Citizens

Dm_140611_nfl_anti_redskins_adMatthew L. M. Fletcher recently posted an Article entitled, States and Their American Indian Citizens, Wills, Trusts, & Estate Law eJournal (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This article is intended to provide a theoretical framework for tribal advocates seeking to approach state and local governments to discuss cooperation with Indian nations, with a special emphasis on Indian child welfare. While the federal government has a special trust relationship with Indians and Indian nations, Indian people are also citizens and residents of the states in which they live. Thus, states have obligations to Indians as well.

This article posits the fairly controversial and novel position that states have obligations to guarantee equal protection to all citizens, including American Indians (and non-Indians) residing in Indian country. In other words, states have an affirmative obligation to ensure that reservation residents, Indian and non-Indian, receive the same services from states that off-reservation residents receive.

November 19, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court: Kids of Divorced Stepparent Must Pay Inheritance Tax

285px-StepByStepOpeningPaula Tyler and Mark Alcorn were raised by their mother, Connie Smith, and stepfather, Donald Hitzhusen. The couple later divorced, but Hitzhusen remained close to Tyler and Alcorn. Close enough, in fact, that he left them 77% of his $1.9 million estate. Because the distribution occurred in Iowa, Tyler and Alcorn were subject to a $200,000 inheritance tax. The pair challenged the validity of the tax, claiming that they were essentially being punished for the divorce of their parents. The court did not buy the argument and held that the Iowa Legislature’s goal to promote family cohesion was legitimate.

See David Pitt, Court: Kids of Divorced Stepparent Must Pay Inheritance Tax, Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2017.

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

November 19, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Glenn Frey Eagles Legend Left Everything to Wife

1115-glenn-frey-getty-3Glenn Frey, former guitarist for the Eagles, died with a will that leaves everything to his wife of twenty-five years, Cindy Millican. The will only lists assets totaling $100,000, but makes reference to a family trust. It is likely the legendary musician left the bulk of his estate in the trust. There is a minor hitch, as Millican claims she only has a copy of the original will. This should not be too much of an issue unless the will is contested.

See Glenn Frey Eagles Legend Left Everything to Wife, TMZ, November 15, 2017.

Special thanks to Molly Neace for bringing this article to my attention.

November 18, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Seizing Family Homes from the Innocent: Can the Eighth Amendment Protect Minorities and the Poor from Excessive Punishment in Civil Forfeiture?

Civil-asset-forfeitureLouis S. Rulli recently posted an Article entitled, Seizing Family Homes from the Innocent: Can the Eighth Amendment Protect Minorities and the Poor from Excessive Punishment in Civil Forfeiture?, Wills, Trusts, & Estate Law eJournal (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Civil forfeiture laws permit the government to seize and forfeit private property that has allegedly facilitated a crime without ever charging the owner with any criminal offense. The government extracts payment in kind — property — and gives nothing to the owner in return, based upon a legal fiction that the property has done wrong. As such, the government’s taking of property through civil forfeiture is punitive in nature and constrained by the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause, which is intended to curb abusive punishments.

The Supreme Court’s failure to announce a definitive test for determining the constitutional excessiveness of civil forfeiture takings under the Eighth Amendment has led to disagreement among state and federal courts on the proper standard. At the same time, the War on Drugs has resulted in an explosion of civil forfeiture filings against the property of ordinary citizens — many are whom are innocent of any wrongdoing — and therefore there is a profound need for a robust constitutional test that satisfies the Eighth Amendment’s original purposes. This need has grown more urgent because civil forfeiture practices are increasingly plagued by police abuses motivated by self-gain, and recent studies show that civil forfeitures disproportionately affect low-income and minority individuals who are least able to defend their hard-earned property.

This Article documents the aggressive use of civil forfeiture in Pennsylvania and, by way of illustration, presents the plight of elderly, African-American homeowners in Philadelphia who were not charged with any crime and yet faced the loss of their homes because their adult children were arrested for minor drug offenses. In such cases, the Eighth Amendment should play a vital role in preventing excessive punishments. But some courts mistakenly apply a rigid proportionality test, upon prosecutorial urging, that simply compares the market value of the home to the maximum statutory fine for the underlying drug offense. When a home value is shown to be less than the maximum fine, these courts presume the taking to be constitutional. Under such a one-dimensional test, prosecutors routinely win because the cumulative maximum fines for even minor drug offenses almost always exceed the market values of modest, inner-city homes. This cannot be the proper test. Instead, this Article contends that the proper constitutional test for excessiveness must be a searching, fact-intensive inquiry, in which courts are required to balance five essential factors: (1) the relative instrumentality of the property at issue to the predicate offense; (2) the relative culpability of the property owner; (3) the proportionality between the value of the property at issue and the gravity of the predicate offense; (4) the harm (if any) to the community caused by the offending conduct; and (5) the consequences of forfeiture to the property owner.


November 18, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fate of Las Vegas Shooter Stephen Paddock’s Millions to Be Decided in Court

1510926768669Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter who killed 58 and injured many more from his room at the Mandalay Bay, died with over $5 million in assets. This figure includes money Paddock earned from real estate investments and winnings from gambling. Attorney Craig Eiland, who currently represents some of the victims, is asking the court to form a constructive trust to hold Paddock’s assets. The end-goal of such a measure would be to make sure the most severely injured and needy victims receive the bulk of Paddock’s estate.

See Greg Norman, Fate of Las Vegas Shooter Stephen Paddock’s Millions to Be Decided in Court, Fox News, November 17, 2017.

Special thanks to Molly Neace for bringing this article to my attention.

November 17, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Squabbles Over the Family Summer Home? Don’t Hire a Lawyer Just Yet

Serena-and-venus-with-braidsFor a fortunate few, the onset of summer elicits nostalgic recollections of time spent at the family’s summer home, carefree days spent by crystalline azure waters, and raucous cookouts enjoyed with neighborhood children. But, as time trudges forward and memories grow hazy, siblings may look at the summer home with less reverence and more of a desire for acquisition. In some instances, siblings are willing to hire attorneys to make their case in court. In order to avoid this expensive and emotionally charged process, transformative mediation may serve as a viable alternative.

Transformative mediation, unlike traditional mediation, has the singular goal of getting the parties involved to think differently. The United States Postal Service implemented the process in an effort to solve underlying conflicts between workers. Previous efforts to utilize traditional methods of mediation lead to settlements, but employees returned to work with the same concerns. Though transformative mediation has great potential to lead parties to an agreement, the process can be prohibitively expensive, long, and precariously subject the each party’s willingness to cooperate.

See Paul Sullivan, Squabbles Over the Family Summer Home? Don’t Hire a Lawyer Just Yet, The New York Times, August 18, 2017.

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

November 17, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)