Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, September 11, 2015

Celebrities Should Be Careful When Planning Their Estates

Oscar-statueThis article discusses some of the unique financial situations that wealthy celebrities often find themselves in.  Often times drafting a simple will is not enough when there are vast amounts of assets that are at stake in a probate dispute.  This article provides a few examples of famous deceased celebrities that had bitter estate battles because they did not adequately plan for their death.  In many circumstance celebrities will fail to accurately measure the value of their name and likeness.  There are also many examples of young celebrities who make bad estate planning decisions because they came into wealth so suddenly.  Some of the estate planning tools that young newly rich celebrities should consider using include things like revocable trusts and having prenuptial agreements if they happen to get married.  

See Anthony Greco, Woe The Weak-Willed Celebrity, Private Wealth, September 11, 2015.

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

September 11, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Music, Television, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Estate Planning For Wealthy Celebrities

HollywoodThe unique financial situation that many wealthy actors and musicians face often requires sophisticated advanced planning strategies.  Because of the media spotlight a wealthy celebrities spending habits can become public knowledge.  Celebrities often derive their wealth from many different sources that can include copyrights, trademarks, interests in certain productions, and royalties.  Heirs of celebrities can face many problems if the decedent did not plan properly.  Captive insurance companies can be a useful way to address certain risks with the wealth celebrities generate.  There are many ways a celebrity can structure the terms of their insurance plan in order to obtain certain tax benefits.  It is important for celebrities to work with a high caliber estate planner to develop a plan that fits with their individual needs and circumstances. 

See Russ Alan Prince, Ultra-Wealthy Entertainers Need Specialized Estate And Asset Protection Planning, Forbes, September 9, 2015.

September 10, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Murderer’s Family Faces Court Battle Over Inheritance

Beautiful and twistedIt has been six years since businessman Ben Novack Jr. was found brutally murdered in his hotel room in Westchester New York.  The businessman’s wife, Narcy Novack, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for hiring hit men to murder both her husband and her husband’s 86-year-old mother.  The brutal killings were inspiration for the 2015 Lifetime movie “Beautiful & Twisted,” which starred both Rob Lowe and Candice Bergen.  The probate court had initially treated Narcy as having predeceased Ben as stipulated by Florida’s Slayer Statute.  According to Ben’s will the estate would then pass to Narcy’s daughter from a previous marriage as well as her two children.  The businessman’s cousins are now trying to challenge the will in court, alleging that Ben was coerced into altering the will so that her progeny could inherit the estate. 

See Izzy Kapnick, Murderer’s Family Faces Roadblock To Inheritance, Courthouse News Service, August 07, 2015.  

August 12, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Filmmakers Seek Declaratory Judgment That Buck Rogers Is Public Domain Material

Buck rogersTeam Angry Filmworks is currently seeking a declaratory judgment that the 1928 story “Armageddon 2419 A.D.” about the spaceman Buck Rogers is now part of the public domain.  The Hollywood filmmakers claim that they do not need permission from the creator’s heirs to make a Buck Rogers movie.  The President of Team Angry Filmworks, Don Murphy, claims that “Buck Rogers entered the public domain in the United States in or about 1956 and worldwide in or about 2010.”  The Buck Rogers character was created by Philip Francis Nowlan who wrote for the pulp magazine “Amazing Stories.”  Neither of the descendants’ Louis Greer or the Dille Family Trust has commented on the lawsuit. 

See Mike Heuer, Filmmaker Says Buck Rogers Is Public Domain, Courthouse News Service, August 6, 2015.

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

August 7, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Marilyn Monroe’s Grave Marker Sold For $212,500

MonroeThe grave marker of the late celebrity icon Marilyn Monroe was recently sold at the Hollywood Legends auction for $212,500.  Originally, the grave marker from Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Las Angeles was estimated to be worth $2,000-$4,000 dollars.  The auction also sold off other personal items that were attributed to Marilyn Monroe like the dress that she wore in the movie ‘Something’s Gotta Give.’

See Marilyn Monroe’s grave marker sells for $212,500 at Julien’s Auctions ‘Hollywood Legends’ sale, Art Daily, June 29, 2015.  

June 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How Robin Williams is Protecting His Image After Death

Robin_WilliamsRobin Williams avoided a common problem with celebrity estates by including his publicity rights in his estate planning. Williams transferred his publicity rights to a charitable organization, the Windfall Foundation. This move not only provides protection of how Williams' personal brand is treated after his death, but also avoids the value of his publicity rights being included in his taxable estate.

See Gerard Cukier & Sameena Munir, What Can Robin Williams Teach You About Managing Your Personal Brand?, Music Week, Apr. 22, 2015.

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

April 23, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lauren Bacall Estate Auction Brings in Millions

BacallA Bonhams auction of possessions from late film star Lauren Bacall, who died at 89-years-old in August, brought in $3.6 million and sold out of all 740 auctioned lots over two days. Items auctioned included art pieces, jewelry, and possessions she inherited from her late husband Humphrey Bogart.

See Madeline McMahon, Hollywood Siren Bacall’s Estate Fetches $3.6 Million at Bonhams, Bloomberg, Apr. 2, 2015.

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

April 3, 2015 in Estate Administration, Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Leonard Nimoy Passes Away

Leonard_NimoyAt 83 years  of age, beloved actor Leonard Nimoy has passed away. The actor well known for his role as Star Treks' Mr. Spock passed away Friday from lung disease. Nimoy is survived by his wife and two children. His estate is a estimated to be valued at $45 million.

See William Rameau, Leonard Nimoy Net Worth, Heirs: Star Trek's Mr. Spock Survived by Wife Susan, CHildren Julie and Adam, Breathe Cast, Feb. 27, 2015.

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

March 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Film, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Actor Bob Hoskins Leaves Entire Estate to Wife

Bob HoskinsThe will of actor Bob Hoskins, who passed away in April at 71-years-old, left his entire estate valued at over £1 Million to his wife of 32 years. Hoskins started his acting career by landing a role on the BBC TV series Pennies From Heaven in 1978, and went on to play roles in nearly 70 films including The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

See, Pennies From Heaven . . . Bob Hoskins Leaves £1 Million to Wife of 32 Years Who Helped Him Battle Depression, Daily Mail, Dec. 20, 2014.

December 23, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New Book on Estate Tax and Movies

Art of the Estate Tax ReturnKeith Schiller's new book, Art of the Estate Tax Return, Second Edition-Estate Planning at the Movies, uses films to illustrate estate planning and tax concepts.  Provided below is the description of the book from Bloomberg BNA:

Art of the Estate Tax Return, Second Edition – Estate Planning at the Movies® provides in-depth tax analysis and strategic counsel, while offering the ultimate in readability, by connecting well-known motion pictures to practical estate planning and compliance. These connections create great reminders of significant strategies or law, lending humanity to technical issues, and making the tax law fun. 

Art of the Estate Tax Return will enhance your practice and enable you to potentially save your clients millions of dollars in estate taxes by presenting strategic analysis for preparation, presentation, and post-filing defense and advocacy with tax-saving results.

Underlying the cinematic connections, the author shares his best practice tips from a career of preparing, reviewing, and defending estate tax returns, and his greater than 25 years of teaching experience for tax professionals.

With a Foreword by former IRS Appeals Team Manager John Schooler, and an Afterword by Charles W. Morris, the former IRS Territory Manager, Estate and Gift Tax for the Western United States, Art of the Estate Tax Return unsnares the traps and explores the nuances of law and procedure that enter into the preparation and defense of Form 706, including:

  • Expanded coverage of portability elections
  • Illustrated estate tax returns for 2013
  • Maximizing valuation discounts and deductions
  • Protecting FLPs and FLLCs
  • Securing best appraisal results
  • Tips to avoid audits
  • Pointers on GST reporting
  • Cautions and help for fiduciaries
  • Warnings and opportunities from inconsistencies in the law
  • Strategies for audits and appeals
  • Comprehensive analysis
  • And much more!

November 11, 2014 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)