Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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)

No Rush to Determine Prince's Heirs

Prince5The Minnesota judge overseeing Prince’s estate is in no hurry to determine the heirs to Prince’s $300 million fortune. His sister, five half-siblings, and several others have laid claim to a cut of his fortune. On Monday, there was a hearing to decide the methodology for determining heirs, and the judge noted that this could be a long process with potential legal guidance being sought from a higher court.

See Judge in ‘No Hurry’ to Determine Prince’s Heir in $300 Million Estate Case, Fox News, June 27, 2016.

June 28, 2016 in Current Events, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Judge Rules No Media Allowed in Prince's Upcoming Probate Hearing

Prince19The judge overseeing Prince’s estate case will not allow media company attorneys to intervene in the upcoming hearing. He denied the media’s request for the Monday probate hearing to determine inheritance rights but left open the possibility for later access. With suspenseful paternity questions waiting to be addressed, several documents were filed under seal. The balance between the public’s right to access and confidentiality presents several legal questions for the rest of the battle over Prince’s $300 million estate.

See Prince Estate Judge: No Cameras at Monday Hearing, USA Today, June 25, 2016.

June 27, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Inmate Will Not Share in Prince's $300 Million Estate

Prince33The judge overseeing Prince’s estate is not allowing cameras in an upcoming hearing to determine possible heir claims. According to the law, the media and public may also be banned from the hearing if the court pursues specific paternity matters. We now know, however, that Carlin Williams, an inmate serving eight years for unlawful transportation of a firearm, is not a potential heir after a DNA test came back with a 0% chance of relation. The prisoner will not share in any of Prince’s $300 million estate as paternity questions continue to arise. 

See Prince Is Not the Father of Man Serving Time in Prison According to DNA Results that Bar the Convicted Felon from Inheriting Any Part of $300 Million Estate, Daily Mail, June 22, 2016.

June 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Will a Significant Tax Bill Take Half of Prince's Estate?

Prince4The trustee for Prince’s estate has revealed that a sizeable tax bill could wind up taking half of his estimated $250 million estate, which could potentially force an early sale of his unreleased music. In order to meet a fee deadline for the tax bill, many of Prince’s non-cash assets will have to be sold. Representations for all parties are working to avoid an inevitable fire sale if the deadline is not met.

See Lindsay Kimble, Taxes Could Wipe Out Half of Prince’s $250 Million Estate and Force Early Sale of His Unreleased Songs, Trustee Says, People, June 8, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hartnett (The Hartnett Law Firm) for bringing this Article to my attention.

June 16, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 13, 2016

How Complex Family Situations Impact Intestacy Statutes

Complex family treesStephanie Pierce recently published a Note entitled, Probable Intent vs. Certainty: The Missouri Probate Court and the Uniform Probate Code, 80 Mo. L. Rev. 833 (2015). Provided below is a summary of the Note:

This Note seeks to address how increasingly complex family situations should impact intestacy statutes. In In re Brockmire, the Supreme Court of Missouri specifically addressed what occurs when a decedent predeceases his biological granddaughter and his biological daughter, who had been adopted as an adult by her stepfather. Unfortunately, the court, bound by statute, was unable to even contemplate a remedy consistent with the probable intent of the decedent.

In addressing this complex set of family circumstances, this Note will first take an in-depth look into Missouri intestacy law. Additionally, this Note will address and analyze the different approaches of other states, as well as the approach taken by the Uniform Probate Code, and will compare each of those methods to the applicable Missouri statutes. This Note argues that the current Missouri intestacy statutes are antiquated and need to be reformed to match the standards set forth by the Uniform Probate Code.

June 13, 2016 in Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Learn from Prince: How Estate Planning Will Benefit You

Prince3Prince had a reputation of being hands on with his legal affairs, but why did he not execute a will? Learning from Prince’s misfortune will allow people to understand the benefits planning for your estate provides.

When you die without a will, your assets will pass through intestate succession, which can become complicated and expensive. Further, if you die intestate, your assets become public, which can be burdensome for celebrities, like Prince. Dying intestate does not allow you to allocate your assets in the best way you feel fit, making it important to plan ahead for your estate. Without a well-executed estate plan, you may just end up like Prince with numerous people fighting over your estate.

See Winnie Sun, 5 Things Prince’s Family, and You, Should Know About Estate Planning, Forbes, May 18, 2016.

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

June 11, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Poem on Prince's Sister Protecting His Estate

PrinceFredrick E. Vars, Univ. of Alabama Sch. of Law, recently wrote a poem entitled, Prince’s Siblings: Thieves in the Temple?, (2016). Provided below is the poem:

 

There once was a popstar named Prince.

He died and we’ve looked ever since

For a will to instruct us how

To divide this massive cash cow.

 

People looked high, people looked low.

Was there a will? Answer still no.

His sister rushed into the breach

And sought immediate relief.

 

She asked not for power or money,

But for a familiar trustee

To protect the diamonds and pearls

Until the true facts are unfurled.

 

So tabloids let’s NOT go crazy

As journalism, that’s lazy.

Go search for lost kids if you must

Or better a will under dust.

June 9, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)