Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Saturday, November 15, 2014

No Comeback to Hurtful Words by the Dead

Zombie TalkThe practice of scorned testators getting in the last word in disputes through their will has a rich history, is sometimes humorous, and often spiteful. In 1908 Garvey White left 50 cents to his son-in-law and directed that the purpose of the gift was to "enable him to buy for himself a good stout rope with which to hang himself, and thus rid mankind of one of the most infamous scoundrels that ever roamed this broad land or dwelt outside of a penitentiary.”

In response to the beyond the grave jabs, targets of the comments have sought remedies from courts  to either have the will redacted to save their reputation or to recover money from the estates of the angry decedents. However, few attempts at bringing a testamentary libel claim have succeeded. Currently the only states with un-overturned cases that have recognized the tort are Tennessee and New York, and the case law is 70 to 100 years old. The odds favor the dead for who gets the last word.

See David Kluft, Defamation From Beyond the Grave: Using Your Last Will to Get in the Last Word, Trademark and Copyright Blog, Oct. 27, 2014.

Special thanks to Charles A Irvin for bringing this article to my attention.

November 15, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

College Senior Elected as Register of Probate

ElectionWhen election day came, the Grafton County register of probate seat was up for grabs with no one officially running for the position. The fraternity brothers of Mick Wopinski decided to launch a day of write-in campaign to have their Alpha Delta fraternity brother elected to the position. Wopinski beat out fellow write-in contender “Keggy the Kegger,” and won the election to the position that pays $100 a year. The college senior plans to decide whether to accept the position after he researches exactly what it is and what the duties entail.

See Associated Press, N.H. College Student is Write-In Victor in Grafton County Race, Portland Press Herald, Nov. 9, 2014.

November 12, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mean Wills

Last will and testament

While Shakespeare is known for his literary brilliance, his will was a rather mean document.  In it, he did not refer to his wife by name and all he bequeathed to her was his “second-best bed.” 

What kind of message was he trying to send in his will?  Clearly, a mean one.  This sentiment could have been excluded from Shakespeare’s permanent legacy, as it tarnishes the image of his works.

The idea behind mean wills does not just stop with Shakespeare.  A recent will contained this provision, “If we’re not divorced by the time I die, make sure she gets nothing.  She already gone through all my money.”  When this man died and his will was probated, this paragraph went on the courthouse record and everyone—including his children—could see it. 

What is the point of including these seemingly mean spirited provisions?  Some people are trying to be funny.  For example, “To my nephew John, who made sure I knew he expected to be named in my will: ‘Hello John.’” 

Yet sometimes it goes beyond laughter, and is just hurtful.  “To my daughter, I leave $1.00 for the kindness and love she has never shown me.” 

It is impossible to reconcile a relationship like this after the person has died.  A mean will just leaves bitter thoughts and hurt feelings, which may not be worth it.  Sometimes meanness and sarcasm are best left buried. 

See George, Mean Wills Don’t Ever Mean Well, Fox + Mattson, P.C., Oct. 16, 2014.

October 20, 2014 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Funeral Home's Own Drive-Thru

Drive thru funeral

A funeral home in Saginaw, Michigan has added an unusual feature for mourners.  The Paradise Funeral Chapel installed a drive-thru viewing window that displays a body set up in a special area inside the building with a raised and tilted platform for the casket. 

Curtains automatically open when a car pulls up and mourners are allotted three minutes to view a body as music is played through the overhead. 

There is also a deposit opening for cars to leave donations, cards, or memory items.  Additionally, there is a retractable guest book that drive-thru mourners can sign.

President Ivan Phillips says he is trying to be sensitive to the needs of the elderly who may have mobility issues that make it difficult to get into the building.  He asserts that his drive-thru enables people who might not otherwise visit the funeral home to honor the deceased.

See Associated Press, Funeral Home Offers Drive-Thru Viewing, USA Today, Sept. 16, 2014.

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

September 17, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dead Man Blamed For Speeding Tickets

Speeding CarA dead man in the United Kingdom was accused of being the driver of a car caught on camera speeding. The man’s son Vasille Georgiou blamed three speeding tickets on his father to get out the tickets, two of which occurred after the man’s death. After Georgiou’s blame-the-dead-man scam was discovered, a court sentenced him to four months in jail for his dishonest conduct. Georgiou has also lost his driving privileges for eight months.

See Richard Smith, Driver Who Flicked V-Sign at Speed Camera Blamed His Dead Dad For Speeding Offenses, Mirror, Sept. 5, 2014.

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

September 12, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Men Charged with Abuse of Corpse

Cemetery

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)