Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Men Charged with Abuse of Corpse


Three Maine men have been charged with abuse of a corpse after they were found digging up the cremated remains of two relatives and moving them to another cemetery within the state.  Police say the men dug up the remains of Richard Lewis and the son who shared his name from a cemetery last fall, subsequently reburying them in the family plot.  The remains were returned to their original resting place. 

See Associated Press, Men ‘Just Thought We Had A Right’ To Move Family Members’ Graves, The Huffington Post, Aug. 15, 2014.

August 18, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Eerie and Humorous Outcome of Palm Reader Versus Financial Planner

Palm ReaderWhen reporter Priya Anand sought financial planning advice from a palm reader and a financial advisor, she got surprisingly similar advice on how she should invest in her future. Both thought she should trust herself when choosing investment options, with the palm reader basing the advice on a personality reading and the financial advisor suggesting that investing is like following “The Force.” Both advised she invest in smaller companies, though only the palm reader was willing to drop names and advised against Apple and Google.

See Priya Anand, We Asked a Palm Reader and a Financial Advisor to Handle Our Money, Market Advisor, Aug. 16, 2014.

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

August 18, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Yorker Cartoon Comments on Reading of the Will

ReadingA New Yorker cartoon, which shows a man announcing to others in a room that those who are not mentioned in the will can still have a consolation prize of a valuable gift bag,  comments on the process of a will being read to interested parties. The cartoon can be viewed and prints of the cartoon can be purchased for home display here.

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

August 7, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Tweets Live On

Mr. LaptopAs I have previously discussed, many private companies are developing ways for their clients and account members to plan for how their online accounts and digital assets will be handeled after they die. Now, Twitter has put their hat in the ring, and with a twist. Soon, Twitter users that just can’t live without tweeting may not have to stop just because their dead. The LivesOn app is currently in beta testing, but may be able to provide a way for the tweets to live on.

See Connie Rock, I’ll Tweet When I’m Dead: Estate Planning in the Digital Age, Flip the Media, July 28, 2014.

July 30, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pay No Attention to the Corpse in the Middle of the Road

DrivingMotorists saw an unexpected sight while running errands near a shopping center off of a busy street in Feasterville, Pennsylvania. The door of a coroner’s van unexpectedly opened while the van was moving, which landed a corpse in the middle of the road. Most drivers simply went around the body, while one helpful driver stopped to assist the coroner get the body back in the van.

See Associated Press, Dead Body Falls Out of Coroner Van, Lands in Road, Fox News, July 13, 2014.

July 14, 2014 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Bill Could Lend Excuses To Taxpayers For Lost Receipts

Dog ate homework

Texas Representative Steve Stockman has introduced a new bill titled, “The Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Act.”  A clever pun on the IRS’s inability to produce emails, this bill seeks to allow taxpayers to “offer the same flimsy, obviously made-up excuses the Obama administration uses.”  For taxpayers who fail to provide documents requested by the IRS, the bill would allow them to claim reasons such as: the dog ate my tax receipts; received water damage in the trunk of Ted Kennedy’s car; was short on toilet paper while camping; among others. 

While this is most likely not serious, keeping receipts is critical. If you cannot find one, remember the Cohan Rule, from Cohan v. Commissioner.  Here, the Second Circuit ruled that taxpayers could prove “by other credible evidence” they actually incurred deductible expenses.  While the Cohan Rule may not always be applicable, oral or written statements coupled with a reasonable approximation could make up for lack of documentation. 

See Robert Wood, Lois Lerner’s Law Makes ‘I Lost My Receipts’ Legal With IRS!, Forbes, June 24, 2014. 

June 25, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Zombie Attack? The Pentagon Has a Plan.

ZombieA Defense Department document lays out a full plan of attack in case zombies begin roaming across the US.  Don’t worry though, you don’t have to rewrite your will to cover zombie family. Luckily, this plan is not the result of an unknown lingering zombie infestation, but rather a training exercise that teaches basic military concepts.

See Jamie Crawford, Pentagon Document Lays Out Battle Plan Against Zombies, CNN, May 16, 2014.

May 20, 2014 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Out of the Ordinary Obituary


Instead of a traditional obituary, Sweden’s Stig Kernell instead published one simple line: “I am dead.”

Kernell was 92 when he passed.  His son said he had a great sense of humor and wasn’t afraid of death.  Although Kernell wanted to keep his obit simple, newspapers around the world picked up on this odd obit, probably giving Kernell’s death much more acknowledgement than he intended.

See Man’s Three-Word Obit Goes Viral, AOL, Apr. 14, 2014.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 16, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Poetic Mishap Leads Couple to Quarrel in Court


A poem written by Jennifer Koerner recently became the subject of contentious litigation between her and Kent Nielsen, her live-in boyfriend. 

Koerner adopted a dog named “the Stig,” and on Christmas Day Koerner wrote a poem in which she expressed her intent to give the Stig to Nielsen. 

Once Koerner and Nielsen ended their relationship, Nielsen took the Stig with him.  Koerner pleaded for Nielsen to bring Stig home, but Nielsen refused.  After a bench trial, the judge found Koerner gifted the Stig to Nielsen by way of the poem and Nielsen was the Stig’s rightful owner.  On appeal, the court affirmed the judgment of the Cook County court, holding that Koerner made a valid inter vivos gift of the Stig to Nielsen.

 See Jeffrey R. Gottlieb, Gift by Poetry: Dogged Unfairness or Poetic Justice? , Law Offices of Robert H. Glorch, Apr. 1, 2014.

April 9, 2014 in Humor, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Meat Eater Leaves Estate to Vegetarian Society

Full English breakfast comp

In The Vegetarian Society v Jennifer Scott, a meat-eating millionaire left 80% of his estate to the Vegetarian Society.  His family challenged his Will, claiming he lacked mental capacity.

The challenge was unsuccessful even though the testator suffered from schizophrenia and logical thought disorder.  This quirky millionaire slept in a sleeping bag on a sofa, wrote his thoughts in his old school geography book, and went about with his shoes held together with string. 

Despite his oddities and the fact that he “enjoyed sausages and an English cooked breakfast,” the Court concluded that, because mental capacity is task and time-specific, these facts did not necessarily show he lacked capacity at the time he made his Will.

See Sarah Playforth, Mental Capacity Case – Meat-Eating Testator Can Leave His Millions to the Vegetarian Society, Kingsley Napley, March 24, 2014.

April 2, 2014 in Humor, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)