Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Police Hunt for Thief Seen on Camera Taking Dead Man's Clothes at Funeral Home

ThiefPolice in Leitchfield, Kentucky are currently searching for a man who broke into a funeral home and stole a dead man’s clothes and the jewels from his casket. The man broke in through the front door of the funeral home and was caught on video as he napped in a chair, stole a PlayStation 3, and took the keys to a hearse in addition to stealing the dead man’s suit and jewelry. Jason Watson, the funeral director, believes that man is probably the same person who was chased out of a Wal-Mart for shoplifting shortly prior to the break-in.

See Police Hunt for Thief Seen on Camera Taking Dead Man's Clothes at Funeral Home, Fox News, September 15, 2017.

September 21, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

When Our Elderly Mother Refused to Stop Driving, We Took Drastic Action

AngryWhen Stephen Petrow’s mother turned 80, she rewarded herself with a sporty, fire-engine-red Lexus. Petrow’s high-spirited, feisty mother loved fast, high-octane cars and despite her diminutive 5’2” frame that could barely see over the steering wheel, she drove with a passion that matched her fiery-red Lexus. The results of her impassioned driving began showing up as dents and dings on the exterior of her vehicle, adding to the mounting concerns her children had regarding her ability to drive safely.

Petrow and his brother had both witnessed their mother’s near-collisions with bicyclists and pedestrians on numerous occasions. Petrow’s brother had actually been forced to grab the steering wheel out of his mother’s hands while sitting as passenger in order to prevent a collision. Petrow, and  others, had confronted his mother on numerous occasions to no avail; she refused to acknowledge any fault and did not want to sacrifice her freedom to travel where she wished. After a series of semi-serious incidents and in the face of their mother’s absolute refusal to recognize that she was clearly a danger behind the wheel, Petrow and his siblings anonymously turned their mother in to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The New York DMV maintains a driver reevaluation program that allows individuals familiar with another’s bad driving to report them for a specific reason. Subsequent to the report, Petrow’s mother was required to take a driving test. Though she successfully passed the written portion, the instructor of the driving portion failed her, writing: “Extremely dangerous!! Turns wide into wrong side of road! Poor late braking. No observation at all backing. Completely unaware of surroundings. FAILED.” The DMV revoked her license. While Petrow knows this was the right thing to do, he wonders if he will have enough wherewithal later in life to give up his keys voluntarily if he becomes a danger to others.

See Stephen Petrow, When Our Elderly Mother Refused to Stop Driving, We Took Drastic Action, The Washington Post, September 2, 2017.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

September 17, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 15, 2017

BE OUR GUEST: The Secret Code Disney Theme Park Staff Use to Describe the Rudest Visitors – So Have YOU Been Called It?

ZDisney has implemented a strict set of standards for employees that restricts their use of negative language in front of guests. This may seem strange, but little Sally’s summer vacation might be remembered for the wrong reasons if she happened to overhear Cinderella cursing like a sailor. A very natural response to this limitation has been the introduction and use of colorful colloquialisms by Disney staff.

Difficult guests that are causing a disruption or being extra rude are labeled as “treasured guests”. Rather than say “vomit” or “puke” when a guest tosses their cookies in the park, employees refer to the incident as a “protein spill”. While these descriptors are amusing, perhaps the oddest of the bunch is the “white powder alert”. This call goes out on staff radios when a guest spreads the ashes of a deceased loved one from a ride or a special place at the park. The sentimental nature of the park apparently lends itself to these activities, as there are multiple instances each year where guests successfully spread the ashes of a decedent. In these instances, the “white powder alert” goes out, the ride is stopped, and a smiling Disney staff member is sent to clean up the remains.

See Caroline McGuire, BE OUR GUEST: The Secret Code Disney Theme Park Staff Use to Describe the Rudest Visitors – So Have YOU Been Called It?, The Sun, September 7, 2017.

September 15, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Dying Eagles Fan Requested Players as Pallbearers to 'Let Him Down One Last Time'

EaglesNFL fans, especially those with a favored team, will venture through driving rains, frigid temperatures, and pelting snow to show their loyalty and support. For these fans, games won build into tidal waves of emotional triumph and shared victory. Losses, on the other hand, bring with them the wailing and gnashing of teeth that can cause grown men to break down and weep. Jeffrey Riegel, who recently died from cancer at age 56, was one of these adoring but perpetually heartbroken fans. His team: the Philadelphia Eagles. When Riegel knew his battle with cancer was coming to an unfortunate end, he took a final opportunity to take one last dig at his team. As a final wish, Riegel requested eight Eagles players to act as pallbearers at his funeral so that his team could “let him down one last time.” Although no Eagles players answered the call, the acting pallbearers at Riegel’s funeral donned Eagles jerseys to acquiesce to Riegel’s final wish.

See Dying Eagles Fan Requested Players as Pallbearers to 'Let Him Down One Last Time', Fox News, August 25, 2017.

September 8, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Driver with Casket on Roof Leads Police on Chase Down Arkansas Interstate

Little-girl-running-from-police (1)Kevin Cholousky was arrested and jailed in Arkansas after fleeing from police. The chase started after police noticed Cholousky stopped on the side of the road with a casket fasted to the roof of his Hummer. When police stopped to offer assistance, Cholousky sped off. He now faces charges for fleeing from the police, having fake tags, and reckless driving. It is still unknown why Cholousky had the coffin on his roof, but it had been confirmed that the casket was empty.

See Jake Ingrassia, Driver with Casket on Roof Leads Police on Chase Down Arkansas Interstate, Fox News, August 24, 2017.

September 6, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

New York Widow Leaves $300G To Her Cats

CatsEllen Frey-Wouters, a Bronx widow, left a $300,000 legacy to her two cats. Instructions in her will prescribe strict guidelines for the care of the felines. Neither Troy nor Tiger are to ever be caged and they must be lovingly cared for. Of the two, Tiger has enjoyed the greatest increase in economic benefit. The former stray, once scrounging for sustenance, now enjoys a diet featuring filet-mignon-flavored Fancy Feast and relaxes in a faux-fur bed lined with silk. Dahlia Grizzle, Frey-Wouters’s former caretaker, thinks Troy and Tiger deserved the special treatment, as the cats were very much like children to deceased.

See Julia Marsh & Reuven Fenton, New York Widow Leaves $300G To Her Cats, Fox News, August 22, 2017.

August 31, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Billionaires Are Stockpiling Land that Could Be Used in the Apocalypse — Here's Where They're Going

ZombieWhether it be idle fantasy or serious concern, most Americans have considered what they would do during the onset of an impending zombie apocalypse. These end-of-the-world scenarios are commonly played out on television and in theaters. Whatever the root cause, it seems as though fear of some catastrophic event is buried in the American subconscious. And, while most do not have the resources available to prepare for such a scenario, the wealthiest among us do and are. An article from Forbes suggests the superrich are buying up significant swathes of property in America’s heartland. There, the climate is mild, the land ripe for farming, and the low population density conducive to survival. While many of the billionaires who do own massive tracts of property have not publicly acknowledged it was purchased for use in-case-of-emergency, if there were a worldwide catastrophe, they seem to be the best prepared to weather the storm.

See Melia Robinson, Billionaires Are Stockpiling Land that Could Be Used in the Apocalypse — Here's Where They're Going, Business Insider, June 14, 2017.

June 15, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Family Cited for Botched Attempt at Viking Funeral

ScottsThe Barstad family found themselves in a bit of trouble for a recent attempt to adhere to the last wishes of the family’s patriarch, Norman Barstad. Barstad was 92-years old when he passed away last week. His final request was simple: he wanted a full Viking burial on the water. Unbeknownst to local neighbors, fishermen, the Nevada County Health Department, or the Sheriff, the Barstad family had fully acquiesced.

According to witnesses, the Barstads drove up to Scotts Flat Lake in a Dodge truck pulling what looked to be a re-purposed pontoon. While the actual make-up of the boat varies based on witness’ accounts, the proceeding events that unfolded do not. Once the makeshift pyre reached about 200 yards into the lake, a massive explosion rocked the craft and jettisoned pieces of debris and the Barstad patriarch into the surrounding area.

A fisherman on the lake at the time of the explosion claims to have been hit by a detached finger. Sherry Smith, a resident, heard the explosion but did not come out of her home until she heard a thump on her roof. The sound on the roof was caused by a detached leg that hit her in the head after she exited her home.

As for the Barstad family, they suffer no regret. Jimmie Barstad, the family member responsible for dousing the craft with gasoline and stuffing it with illegal fireworks, said that he was proud to send his father off according to Viking tradition, despite the fine and the fact the family is still picking up pieces of Dad.

See Chip Day, Family Cited for Viking Funeral on Local Lake, Nevada County Scooper, June 2017.

Special thanks to Deborah G. Matthews for bringing this article to my attention.

Please note, this article does not come from a reliable news source. 

June 13, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Humor | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Death Can Wait

ReinerCarl Reiner’s most recent book is suitably entitled “Too Busy to Die.” The 95-year old comedic legend thanks his vivid dreams as inspiration for his oftentimes zany ideas. Reiner, creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and director of movies like “The Jerk” and “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” said in a recent interview that as long as his mind keeps popping, he will keep going. Reiner will be featured in an HBO documentary on Monday, June 5. The show features stereotype-shattering nonagenarians like Reiner and provides a look into the still-vibrant lives of individuals over 90.

See Dan Hyman, For Carl Reiner and His Fellow Nonagenarians, Death Can Wait, New York Times, June 2, 2017.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

June 5, 2017 in Books, Current Events, Elder Law, Film, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Michigan Graverobber Arrested

41023EFA00000578-4564192-image-a-2_1496352815310Lisa Corcoran, age 44, was arrested Thursday for allegedly stealing over 188 items from 24 different grave sites. She is accused of stealing a $500 handmade bench, flowers, and a number of other miscellaneous objects. She was caught thanks to a witness that saw her driving out of the cemetery with her car full of flowers. Investigators were able to track the license plate number noted by the witness to Corcoran. At her home, investigators found stolen items throughout the house and many of the rooms were decorated with the stolen flowers.

See Abigail Miller, Michigan Woman Arrested After Stealing 188 Items Including a $500 Bench from Two Cemeteries to Decorate Her Home, Daily Mail.com, June 1, 2017.

June 4, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)