Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

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)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Life in the Nineties


Check out the article linked below for an interesting story about old age written by Roger Angell.

In this enlightening article, a 93-year-old Angell describes his various aches and pains, memory problems, devastating losses, and the various upsides of getting old.

See Roger Angell, This Old Man: Life in the Nineties, The New Yorker, Feb. 17, 2014.

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

February 27, 2014 in Elder Law, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Packages You Probably Can't Afford


Some people think there’s no better way to say “I love you” than by spending an absurd amount of cash on extravagant gestures.  Here are a few Valentine’s Day packages being offered by some of Miami’s most alluring hotels:

  • $100,000 Dazzle You in Diamonds Package (Ritz-Carlton South Beach):  Oceanfront suite with private poolside cabana, privately catered dinner by chef de suisine, Cristal Champagne, 15.4-carat diamond hoop earrings, 4.34-carat diamond cuff links, private dance floor, diamond dust infused facials 
  • $55,000 Turn the Lights Down Low (The W):  Helicopter transportation, two-bedroom penthouse suite, private seaplane and yacht dinner escape, Ferrari car loaner 
  • $10,000 weekend stay (The Gale):  10-course, in-room romantic dinner, rose petal turnover, helicopter ride over the beach, champagne on hotel roof, heart-shaped pizza 
  • $1,000-$2,000 Miami Vices (Mayfair Hotel & Spa):  Skydiving package, yoga package, and photography package

See Carla Torres, Valentine’s Day Packages You Can’t Afford, Miami New Times, Feb. 11, 2014.

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

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

Friday, January 10, 2014

To Bequeath or Not to Bequeath


Shakespeare’s will reveals that he left his wife their “second best bed.”  He also left £150 to each of his daughters, which is over £380,000 today.

These final wishes were a part of the publication of one the most comprehensive collection of probate records, which span nearly five centuries.

The publisher of the collection, Ancestry.co.uk, has also revealed for the first time the wills of Jane Austen, Sir Francis Drake, and Sir Francis Bacon.

See Keith Perry, Shakespeare’s Will Reveals He Left ‘Second Best Bed’ to His Wife, The Telegraph, Jan. 7, 2014. 

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

January 10, 2014 in Humor, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)