Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Focus on Legacy Management for Artists

PicassoArtist Mark Rothko wrote a will that firmly documented the desire for his estate to remain out of the vaults of the extremely wealthy. After both he and his wife died, however, large parts of his estate were sold to a gallery for deflated prices. The next year, Rothko’s daughter sued and won the case, but most of the damage had already been done with several of the paintings already sold. With cases like Rothko’s, artists and dealers are beginning to focus on legacy management, securing an artistic afterlife. There have been several instances of trustees fighting with inheritors. Consequently, art galleries are making it a point to talk to artists about proper estate planning.

See Harriet Fitch Little, How an Artist’s Legacy Became Big Business, Financial Times, August 26, 2016.

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

August 28, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pills Containing Fentanyl Found at Prince's Estate

Prince6Several of the pills taken from Prince’s estate were counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl, a synthetic opioid more powerful than heroin. Officials say the pills were falsely labeled but are still unsure of how Prince obtained the drugs. Prior to his death, Prince’s tests showed no fentanyl in his system, leading officials to believe he was not a long-time abuser of the drug that caused his fatal overdose.

See Official: Pills Found at Prince’s Estate Contained Fentanyl, Fox News, August 21, 2016.

August 24, 2016 in Current Events, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Avoiding These Eight Red Flags in an Estate Plan

RED-FLAG-1A true estate planner is able to foster trustworthy relationships with their clients while serving them in the fullest capacity. If you notice a gap in an estate-planning document, realize this red flag and know how to solve it.

When creating an estate plan, one goal many clients have is to avoid probate; on the other hand, a lot of clients draft a properly written will. Make sure that your clients goals are met and fill any gap in this estate-planning document. If a trust is in the estate plan, make sure that there is proper funding. Also, protect your client’s assets from creditors by never leaving valuable assets exposed. Similarly, do not leave inheritances in the hands of uninformed beneficiaries who can expose their gifts to creditors as well. Another good idea is to appoint trustees in a manner that gets the job done; you do not want fighting or miscommunication to burden future heirs. Furthermore, a planner should make sure that all account beneficiaries are updated along with any estate-planning documents. Accordingly, life insurance should be right for your client’s situation, determining whether too little or too much insurance can pose a problem. Finally, emphasize to your clients that they need a long-term care arrangement, helping with any unforeseen medical expenditures.

See Eight Red Flags That Your Client’s Estate Plans Are Out of Whack, Wealth Management, August 5, 2016.

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

August 11, 2016 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A New Heir to Prince's Estate?

Prince33Prince’s $300 million estate may now only have a single heir, a man coming forward with DNA proof that he is the son of the musician. If this man’s claim is legitimate, he will inherit the entire estate according to Minnesota law. This man claims that his mother was a singer who performed in the same club as Prince in the 80s.

See Karen Demasters, Heir to Prince’s Estate May Have Been Found, Private Wealth, August 1, 2016.

Special thanks to Rob Robertson (Attorney, Austin, Texas) & Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this Article to my attention.  

August 4, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Prince's Estate Ready to Unload Properties

Prince2Prince’s special administrator has filed a request to start releasing various real estate holdings. According to the request, the estate will only accept offers that are at least 90% of the fair market value. Prince is known to have owned real estate in Minnesota, Beverly Hills, and New York, with the Minnesota properties alone being worth $30 million. Looks like Prince’s heirs are wanting to liquidate his assets rather than hold on to them for their sentimental value.

See Prince Everything Must Go . . . Estate Ready to Dump Properties, TMZ, August 1, 2016.

August 2, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Judge Rules Prince's Possible Heirs to Six

Prince6On Friday, a judge dismissed the claims of twenty-nine people, alleging they were related to Prince. This narrowed the possible number of heirs down to six—his sister, three half siblings, a niece, and a grandniece, who will undergo genetic testing. Prince also had no known children, and eighteen claimants were ruled out as his children.

See Khushbu Shah, Prince’s Possible Heirs Narrowed Down to Six, CNN, July 29, 2016.

July 30, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Estate Planning for the Rich and the Poor

Estate plan for poorRich or poor an estate plan is an essential, so that your family can mourn your passing in peace. Dying intestate will leave your family sorting through your mess in a time of heightened emotional grief. And it will be up to a probate judge to divide your assets according to the law, which leaves you no control. You can potentially disinherit you wife or children. Additionally, if you do not create a will, the probate process can be very expensive and burdensome.

See Kansas & Missouri Estate Planning Blog, If My Client Isn’t Leaving Millions, Does He Really Need an Estate Plan?, Wealth Management, July 8, 2016.

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

July 20, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Absence of Marriage License Does Not Invalidate Marriage

Marriage licenseFollowing a divorce, a husband and wife reconciled in 2012 and married in late 2013 when the husband became hospitalized. The couple, however, did not obtain a marriage license, and the husband died intestate the day after the wedding. Shortly after his death, the wife’s surviving spouse claim to her husband’s estate was denied due to the absence of the marriage license. When the wife appealed this decision, the judge reviewed North Carolina and United States Supreme Court precedent, concluding that the lack of a marriage license did not invalidate the marriage. The only question left was whether the couple consented to be married, or rather, did they understand all the legal consequences of marriage. With no evidence to the contrary, their marriage was confirmed upon appeal, entitling the wife to her surviving spouse allowance.

See Julianne Tobin Wojay, Lack of License Didn’t Invalidate Marriage, Bloomberg BNA Family Law Reporter, June 22, 2016.

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

June 29, 2016 in Estate Administration, Intestate Succession, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Woman Claims to be Prince's Half-Sister

Prince's siblingsAfter Monday’s court hearing to determine Prince’s heirs, a woman is claiming to be Prince’s half-sister, alleging that his father is not his biological father. Venita Jackson Leverette claims that her and Prince share the same father, a man that was previously in a relationship with Prince’s mother. A DNA test could be permitted, but the Minnesota judge has already determined that this process will be lengthy.

See Chris Spargo, New Woman Stakes Her Claim for Slice of Prince’s $300 Million Estate as she Claims to be His Half-Sister, Alleging the Singer Was Actually the Son of His Mother’s Ex-Boyfriend, Daily Mail, June 28, 2016.

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

June 29, 2016 in Current Events, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Article on Louisiana Succession Law

Dorothy jacksonDorothy F. Jackson recently published an Article entitled, Contemporary Issues on Louisiana Law: Successions—To Be Shared Equally or to Share and Share Alike?, S.U. L. Rev. (forthcoming Spring 2016). Provided below is an introduction to the Article:

For many years, lawyers have sought to draft last wills and testaments in an effort to comport with their clients’ wishes and to appeal to their clients’ intellectual sensibilities. Sometimes lawyers are tempted to use flowery words or phrases to impress the prospective testator, who is a lay person. A thorough reading of the Louisiana Civil Code’s provisions on legacies, joint or otherwise, should be carefully studied and understood by the attorney or notary before preparing or drafting a last will and testament. This article suggests that based upon the ambiguities that can result from the inarticulate drafting of wills, it may be necessary to amend or revise (once again) Louisiana Civil Code article 1588, which governs legacies made to more than one individual. Failure to use words that are clear and unambiguous, based upon the ordinary meaning of words, has resulted in some of the simplest drafted wills failing to comport with the client’s express intent.

Part I of this article will analyze the Lambert decision and discuss how various Louisiana courts have interpreted Lambert. Part II will discuss the Succession of Lain decision and the confusion surrounding it, its likely impact on the issue and the opportunity for future rulings (i.e. the new appeal). Finally, Part III will provide suggestions for a final resolution to the problem, one of which is to revise or amend Louisiana Civil Code article 1588 in order to avoid the confusion set forth in the Succession of Lain.

June 28, 2016 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)