Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Daughter’s Hilarious Obituary Unravels her Father’s Mysterious Life

WalshRick Stein's obituary ran last week in Delaware Online. The article was written by his daughter Alex Walsh who claims that her father had a healthy appetite for humor as well as life itself. The tale speaks of a man who disappeared in a single-engine plane over the Atlantic Ocean after learning he had cancer. "Security footage shows Stein leaving the building at approximately 3:30 Thursday afternoon, but then the video feed mysteriously cuts off."

Walsh, 45, a former television news writer in Washington, D.C., wrote that, “It seems no one in his life knew his exact occupation.” Stein's brother is sure that he did not know how to pilot and that they owned a jewelry and Oriental rug gallery together. His sister says she thought Stein was a cartoonist and freelance television critic for the New Yorker. The rest of the family seemed at odds of what their patriarch did with his time, as well.

His wife of 14 years and Walsh's stepmother, Susan Stein, could not be interviewed about her husband's disappearance. "[N]eighbors say they witnessed her leaving the home the couple shared wearing dark sunglasses and a fedora, loading multiple suitcases into her car. FAA records show she purchased a pair of one-way tickets to Rome which was Mr. Stein’s favorite city. An anonymous source with the airline reports the name used to book the other ticket was Juan Morefore DeRoad, which, according to the FBI, was an alias Stein used for many years.”

Alex Walsh then finished the obituary with, “That is one story. Another story is that Rick never left the hospital and died peacefully with his wife and his daughter holding tightly to his hands.”

See Allison Klein, A Daughter’s Hilarious Obituary Unravels her Father’s Mysterious Life. You Have to Read to the End to Get it, Washington Post, October 11, 2018.

October 15, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 12, 2018

'Can Let me Down One Last Time...'

BuffalobillsLee Markel, 88, was known to be a devout fan and lifelong season ticket owner of the NFL's Buffalo Bills, even though he later moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. According to his son Mark, Lee never lost hope of his grandchildren seeing his beloved team win a much desired Super Bowl.

Lee passed away this last Sunday, and his obituary read in The Observer-Dispatch that “Lee has requested six Buffalo Bills players as pallbearers so they can let him down one last time.”

He was described as a “sports enthusiast” with a “religious-like devotion to the Syracuse Orange and his beloved Buffalo Bills.” An Army veteran, Lee will reportedly be buried in a T-shirt that reads, “Just one before I die.”

See Paulina Dedaj, Buffalo Bill Fan Takes Jab From the Grave, Requests Six Players as Pallbearers so They 'Can Let me Down One Last Time,' Fox, October 11, 2018.

Special thanks to Stephen Sanders (Austin, Texas Estate Planning and Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

October 12, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Big Lee's LSU Memorabilia, Trucks and Casket go up for Sale

LsuThe most noticeable house on the 600 block of Bonnabel Boulevard in Metairie, Louisiana, is under contract, but not by such an avid LSU fan as the previous owner, Leeroyal "Big Lee" Martin. Martin was killed earlier in the year after the culmination of a decade long feud with his neighbor ended with Martin being gunned down in his own front yard. Martin had been known for his flashy mannerisms and love for LSU and their memorabilia.

The Occasional Wife, an organizational and management company, is overseeing the sale of Martin's collectables as well as his LSU-decorated pick-up trucks, furniture and other items, according to the house's broker, Matthew Grass. The home was originally listed for $349,000 and included all of Martin's property inside the residence. His vast collection of purple and gold memorabilia will be available for purchase as part of an estate sale that begins Friday (Aug. 24)

See Michelle Hunter, Big Lee's LSU Memorabilia, Trucks and Casket go up for Sale, NOLA.com, August 22, 2018.

Special thanks to Elizabeth R. Carter (A.N. Yiannopoulos Professor of Law, LSU) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 24, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

James Brown and Wife's Marriage was not Bigamous

JamesTommie Ray Brown and the late singer James Brown were married in 2001, 4 years after Tommie married Javed Ahmed. The previous marriage was annulled in 2003 on the grounds that it was invalid due to Ahmed being married already.

At first glance this may seem confusing, and the six children of James Brown were irked enough to contest Tommie's  contesting of Brown's will - which she won on the grounds of "omitted spouse." The children claimed that their father's and Tommie's marriage was invalid, but the courts disagreed. Because Tommie's and Ahmed's marriage was invalid with or without its eventual annulment, it had no capacity to invalidate Tommie's and James Brown's marriage.

Therefore, the South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's grant of summary judgement to Tommie Ray Brown.

See Brown v. Sojourner (In re Estate of Brown), 2018 BL 263330, S.C. Ct. App., No. 5578, 7/25/18.

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

August 1, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Youtube Holographic Will

Will and testamentA holographic will must be handwritten, dated, and signed by the testator and it must be proven that they had the intent and sound mind necessary to write the will. And yes, a holographic will can also be truly holographic.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS187oqLZLo


July 23, 2018 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 21, 2018

LSU Fan's House Presents Unusual Challenges

Big leeA split-level yellow house has just hit the market last week in New Orleans and brings along a mountain of goodies for just the right person: Jacuzzi, pool table, tons of free LSU gear, several Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra posters, and some large photographs of President Donald Trump. Not to mention the purple and gold coffin which was used only for the deceased owner and then placed back inside the home because "there was no where else to put it."

The owner, Lee “Big Lee” Martin, 53, was killed in a dispute with his 78-year-old next-door neighbor, who is now in jail awaiting trial on second-degree murder. The broker of the home retained by the decedent's family in Texas, Matthew Grass, believes that he will be able to sell the home quickly despite its recent notoriety. “I understand human beings, in general, are curious,” he said. “But my job is to sell the real estate, and that’s what I’m doing here.”

"Big Lee" had always been an interesting character and an avid LSU fan, and his collection of LSU memorabilia was astounding. Grass says that he has been contacted by collectors but as of now the gear is being sold with the house. "It’s being sold as lagniappe. We live in Louisiana; that’s lagniappe.”

See Chad Calder, With 'Lagniappe' LSU Gear, Notoriety, Selling 'Big Lee' Martin's House Present Unusual Challenges, New Orleans Advocate, July 17, 2018.

Special thanks to Elizabeth R. Carter (Judge Anthony J. Graphia & Jo Ann Graphia Professor of Law, LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 21, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Protecting Your Pets: How to Make Financial Provisions in a Will or Trust

GarfieldIn our modern society pets are no longer simply considered an animal - they are members of a family, providing emotional support and comfort. Laws have not evolved to the point to see pets as not property, though, so certain steps but be taken to provide for your furry loved one after your passage.

Just as children with their growing list of sports, scholastic activities, and college tuition, pets can be quite expensive. According to a Harris Poll survey, Americans spend an average of nearly $1,500 on essentials such as food, grooming, boarding and trips to the veterinarian’s office for their pets each year. Horses are the most expensive at roughly $13,000 a year.

Here, National Head of Trusts and Estates, Gerry Joyce, answers commonly asked questions such as:

  • Should I Use a Will or a Trust to Protect My Pet after I’m Gone?
  • Could I Simply Leave Money to a Trustworthy Friend?
  • Why Is the Trust Document so Important?
  • How Long Can a Pet Trust Continue?
  • How Much Money Can I Leave to Care for My Pet?
  • What Are the Most Unusual Trust Provisions You Have Seen?

See Protecting Your Pets: How to Make Financial Provisions in a Will or Trust, Fiduciary Trust International, June 19, 2018.

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

July 13, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Codicil Written in Blood Found to be Valid [New Jersey]

BloodThe Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, decided the case In the Matter of the Will of E. Warren Bradway, affirming the judgment of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division that the decedent's  codicil [Download Bradway Codicil written in Blood], handwritten in his own blood, was valid due to clear and convincing evidence it was the decedent's intention to modify the previous will, and affirming an order denying sanctions and attorney's fees against the defendant because the eccentricity of the blood transcribed codicil allowed for the litigation to not be frivolous.

The decedent, E. Warren Bradway, had executed a will in 2001, effectively replacing his prior 1977 will. The 2001 will named his significant other at the time, Mark Coleman, as the prime beneficiary and executor. The two broke up in 2004 and no longer lived together. Later that year, Warren began a relationship with Kirston Baylock. Early 2006 Bradway wrote a codicil with his blood, naming Baylock as the prime beneficiary and executor, replacing Coleman in the 2001 will.

In 2011 Bradway moved in with Baylock, bringing along the 2001 and 2006 codicil. Bradway died unexpectedly in April of 2017. Bradway filed as executor, but Coleman claimed the domicil was not valid due to the nature of the instrument. Both parties had DNA and handwriting experts as witnesses, and had to use Bradway's brother's DNA to determine that the blood on the document was 99.99% related to the brother. At trial the court found for the estate by directed verdict.

See IN THE MATTER OF THE WILL OF E. WARREN BRADWAY, 2018 WL 3097060 (N.J. June 25, 2018).

July 6, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

South African Woman Pronounced Dead, Found Alive Inside Morgue Refrigerator

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-07-03/392676b0-e9fe-4245-a0b3-c89ceb072521.pngA South African woman was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene of a car accident on June 24 that left two others dead. Some time later though a mortuary employee went to check on the body and found that she was still breathing. The paramedics claim that at the scene she had shown "no forms of life," and the manager of the ambulance company defended his employees, stating that they were not improperly trained and that there was no negligence.

The family of the unidentified woman wants answers and there is now an investigation into the incident. The woman was transferred to a hospital where she is recovering.

See Benjamin Brown, South African Woman Pronounced Dead, Found Alive Inside Morgue Refrigerator, Fox News, July 2, 2018.

July 3, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Viral Photo of Nigerian Man Being Buried With $90,000 BMW SUV

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-06-15/590d1b7d-d20f-4253-aaa4-c72ba6328d50.pngA Facebook picture supposedly showing a Nigerian man being buried with a brand new BMW X6 SUV in a small village in Nigeria recently went viral. The story was picked up by several news stations and continued to be shared via social media. Upon further investigation, the picture and story most likely is not legitimate.

The picture was originally posted onto the account of Nigerian filmmaker and artist Zevi Gins. Several commentators appeared to be getting annoyed by the rumor of waste and selfishness the photo stirred up, saying such things as "this is a film that's being directed by Tchidi chikere." Also, it appeared that numerous people recognized in the picture were well known Nigerian actors and actresses.

See Gary Gastelu, Photo of Nigerian Man Allegedly Being Buried in New BMW SUV Goes Viral, Fox News, June 13, 2018.

June 15, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)