Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Special Administrator Appointed On Prince’s Estate

PrinceBremer Trust was appointed by District Judge Kevin Eide to oversee the Prince estate, and none of the apparent heirs objected to the appointment.  “One by one, five of Prince’s six surviving siblings entered a Carver County courtroom Monday to register their claim to the late music legend’s estimated $100 million-plus estate and set up a special administrator to ensure that it’s handled properly.”  As of Monday morning no will has been found, and the search for Prince’s will is ongoing.  Prince leaves behind a massive estate that is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  The fact that there does not appear to be a will creates many problems because the large estate will have to be distributed in accordance with Minnesota intestacy laws.  This could lead to legal battles between beneficiaries who will likely end up disagreeing over the property distributions.

See Emma Nelson and Dan Browning, Judge confirms appointment of special administrator on Prince’s estate, Star Tribune, May 3, 2016.

May 3, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Why The Government Will Get Over Half Of Prince’s Estate

Prince2As I have previously mentioned the late legendary Prince passed away without a will.  This article discusses how over half of his estate may likely go to the government.  “Both the federal government and Minnesota’s state government will assess so-called “death taxes” or estate taxes on Prince’s assets, taking away more than half his estate.”  With more estate planning Prince might have been able to take steps to reduce the amount of taxes that would have been taken from his estate.  As this article mentions, he leaves behind a massive estate that could be worth anywhere between $300 and $500 million.  Because there was no will the Prince estate will be distributed in accordance with Minnesota intestacy laws.

See Rachel Grezler, Why Over Half of Prince’s Estate Will Go to the Government, The Daily Signal, April 29, 2016.

April 30, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Helping People Avoid Cyber Intestacy

Applying onlineIn this modern social media age a large number of people have developed online identities. This article discusses the issue of “cyber intestacy,” which is the failure of a person to plan for their online presence after death.  It is a good idea for advisers to ask their clients if their wills contain digital asset clauses.  Clients should take an inventory of all the digital assets that they own.  It is a good idea for people to plan ahead so that family members do not get stuck in a bad situation of trying to access their digital accounts.  “Automatic bill payments and good-until-cancelled orders continue after death, while electronic bills may go unpaid, and heirs may struggle to access photographs.”  Digital asset planning can help clients maintain control over their digital legacy. 

See Anne Tergesen, Wealth Adviser Daily Briefing: Help Clients Avoid ‘Cyber Intestacy,’ The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2016.

April 27, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Technology, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prince’s Sister Files Emergency Motion For Appointment Of Special Administrator

Tyka nelsonI have previously discussed the fact that Prince passed away without a will and that his estate will pass via Minnesota intestacy laws.  Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson recently filed an emergency motion in the Carver County District Court to appoint special administrator to gather and protect the legendary musician’s assets.  Lawyers and intellectual property and estate planning experts predict that it will take years to determine the value of Prince’s massive estate.  Prince’s estate includes physical assets like land and equipment, and it also includes the intellectual property he owned from his lyrics and songs as well as trademarks that relate to his image and brand.  These assets could be worth up to $100 million dollars and could pay out for many years to come.  The full text of the petition filed by Tyka Nelson in the Carver County District Court can be read here

See Dan Browning,Without a will, it could take years to estimate Prince’s estate, Star Tribune, April 27, 2016.

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

April 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Who Will Inherit From Prince’s Estate?

PrinceThe music world has recently been shocked over the tragic passing of Prince.  It is currently not clear if the musician had a will.  There is a lot of speculation over how his estate will be divided.  Prince did not have any children and both his parents had previously passed away.  If Prince did not have a will then his estate might have to be divided in accordance with Minnesota intestacy laws.  “Minnesota law states that his estate would go to his sister and his half-siblings, according to estate planner Danielle Mayoras, author of "Trial and Heirs," a book about highly publicized battles over celebrities' fortunes.”  The estate is probably going to be very large and there will be years of income generated from the royalties off the music that he has produced.

See David Goldman, Who gets Prince’s millions?, CNN, April 25, 2016.

April 26, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Considerations To Keep In Mind When A Close Family Member Dies Intestate

WillsThe death of a parent or other close family member is a trying time for almost everyone but it is especially so when that person dies without a will. In most situations the stress from a lack of a will should be minor assuming the estate is small and any sentimental items were already distributed before death. But in situation where there are significant assets, coveted personal items, or jointly controlled bank account the outlook is much worse. For example, when an owner of a bank account dies, their interest in the account will usually transfer to any other name listed as a joint owner even if the extra person was added for non inheritance reasons. But when faced with a bad family situation due to intestacy, it is always best to keep the peace when ever possible since escalation of a situation rarely resolves the issue and often makes resolution harder to attain. In addition, try to avoid nasty legal battles since they can be long and expensive and result in little gain even if the suit is won. Cooperation is the best solution to conflict so always try to find a mutually agreeable settlement before resorting to more drastic action.

See Quentin Fottrell, What to do when a parent dies and leaves no will, Market Watch, April 25, 2016.

April 26, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Handling Beneficiary Designations

Last willNaming beneficiaries for important things like assets and life insurance policies involves a more nuanced decision-making process than many might think.  There can be significant repercussions for loved ones if people get something wrong.  It is important for people to familiarize themselves with the basic requirements for naming beneficiaries.  Keeping beneficiary designations up-to-date is extremely important, and people should review their designations in their estate plan whenever any major life event happens.  There are also tax consequences which people should consider.  People should be specific about beneficiary designations when dividing assets, and should give special considerations to special-needs loved ones.  It is important to be familiar with all the important aspects of estate planning so that difficult problems in the estate probate process can be avoided.

See Christine Benz, How to Handle Beneficiary Designations, Morningstar, April 22, 2016.

April 22, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Speculation About Michael Douglas Estate Issues

Michael douglassActor Michael Douglas has had many issues in his personal life during the past decade.  This article discusses how many of the situations in his personal life impact his estate.  The 71-year-old actor has had to struggle with cancer and there are concerns that the disease might be coming back.  His second wife Catherine Zeta Jones has dealt with bipolar disorder and his oldest son once went to jail on drug charges.  This article discusses how the Michael Douglas estate would be divided up if he were to pass away.  Planning for celebrity estates can be very difficult, and the problems can be amplified when dealing with a blended family with children from a previous marriage.  This blog has posted extensively about many of the court battles surrounding the Robin Williams estate.  These types of celebrity estates require careful and detailed planning.

See Scott Martin, Michael Douglas “Death or Divorce” Rumors Raise Big Dynastic Questions, Trust Advisor, April 18, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention. 

April 20, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Intestate Succession, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Don’t Forget About The Minor Details When Estate Planning

Family-heirloomWhen creating an estate plan people will often put a lot of time and energy in planning for big assets, like cash, homes, and securities.  One important thing that often gets overlooked is planning for those personal items that have little monetary value but a great amount of sentimental value.  Dividing up these personal sentimental items can often cause a great amount of friction in families.  It is important to include a system for dividing these personal items up in any estate plan.  This article discusses some of the different options that are available for people who want to plan ahead for dividing these sorts of items.  Putting a good and fair system in place can help prevent bitter disputes between siblings and other family members from happening.

See Paul Sullivan, When Dividing Assets, the Little Things Matter, The New York Times, April 15, 2016.

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

April 16, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What Happens When A Homeowner Passes Away Before Paying Off The Mortgage?

ForeclosureMany home buyers don’t often think about what will happen if they die before the mortgage is paid off.  This article discusses some of the steps that home buyers should take to make sure that the mortgage they have on the home does not become a burden for loved ones.  The debt is often tied to the house so heirs are not personally responsible for paying it, but if they do not pay the mortgage debt there is always the possibility that the house might be foreclosed on.  The policies dealing with what happens when a borrower passes away can vary among different lenders.  It is important to make sure that the lenders will let the heirs assume the debt.  The lender might also be reluctant to release loan information because of privacy restriction.  These are some of the issues that homeowners should plan ahead for. 

See Anya Martin, What Happens When a Homeowner Dies Before the Mortgage Is Paid?, The Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2016.

April 6, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)