Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Two Men Claiming to be Charles Manson's Sons Eliminated From Fight Over Estate

MansonTwo men that publicly claimed to be the offspring of late infamous mass-murder Charles Manson have been eliminated from the battle of the Manson estate by a Los Angeles judge due to lack of proof. One man asserted that he was the product of an orgy that Manson was a party to and later given up for adoption, while the other man's mother was a member of the Manson Family.

The fight over Charles Manson's memorabilia, image, and publishing rights is now between two men left standing: Michael Channels, a memorabilia collector and pen pal who claims Manson named him as the sole beneficiary of all his rights and possessions in 2017 and Jason Freeman, a legitimate and acknowledged grandson of the cult leader whose father, Charles Manson Jr., killed himself in 1993.

There is no estimate on the current value of Charles Manson's estate. Manson's body is also being fought over as it lays unclaimed in a Los Angeles morgue under a false name.

See Jennifer Smith, Purported Sons of Charles Manson Fight Estate, Daily Mail, July 13, 2018.

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

July 15, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Article on Where There's a Will, There's a Way: The US Will Registry Offers a Technology Solution to the Lost Will Problem

PrinceStacey Jerome-Miller recently published an Article entitled, Where There's a Will, There's a Way: The US Will Registry Offers a Technology Solution to the Lost Will Problem, Probate & Property Magazine, Vol. 32, No. 4, July/August 2018. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The death of the musical artist Prince shocked the country, but what was more shocking was the news that, although his estate is worth approximately $300 million, no will declaring the distribution of his assets can be found.

One can only guess why Prince did not leave a will. Was a will outside the scope of his religious beliefs? Did his attorneys advise him to plan for the event of his death, and he simply ignored their advice? Maybe he had not gotten around to estate planning, or perhaps he drafted a will but neglected to tell his family its location. It seems incredible to believe that such a large estate could be left unprotected. Whatever the reasoning, one cannot help but wonder what will happen to Prince's millions now. The Petition for Formal Appointment of Special Administrator, filed by Prince's sister Tyka Nelson, in the Carver County District Court on April 26, 2016, states, "I do not know of the existence of a will and have no reason to believe that the decedent executed testamentary documents in any form." A large part of Prince's estate will be needlessly wasted on legal fees, and Prince's family will be tied up in court trying to sort it ,all out. In fact, as of May 14, 2018, over 1,900 documents have been filed in the case.

July 14, 2018 in Articles, Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Article on The "Charming Head" of the Rule Against Perpetuities

PandpDavid H. Fishman and Edward J. Levin recently published an Article entitled, The "Charming Head" of the Rule Against Perpetuities, Probate & Property Magazine, Vol. 32, No. 4, July/August 2018. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The September/October 2017 issue of Probate & Property contained an extensive article regarding purchase options and rights of first refusal. Kathryn E Allan et al., Rethinking Rights of First Refusal, Rights of First Offer, and Options to Purchase, Prob. & Prop., Sept./Oct. 2017 at 48. The article commented that, regarding purchase options, the Rule Against Perpetuities can "rear its charming head regularly, albeit sometimes in useless desperation. This occurs in cases with purchase options under commercial lease where the purchase price in the option clause may bear no relation to current market value of the property.

July 12, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Texas: A Cautionary Tale for Medicaid Management and Managed Care Companies

MedicaidState Medicaid Agencies are required to have all medically necessary services accessible to beneficiaries, but also safeguard Medicaid from fraud, waste, or abuse of billing, which equates an intense and challenging balancing act.

"In 2010, Texas entered into a landmark settlement of a 14-year old lawsuit, Frew v. Hawkins.   The Frew litigation, originally filed as a class action in 1993, alleged that Texas had failed to ensure that children enrolled in Medicaid were receiving necessary preventative and specialty health care services." In essence, the plaintiff's alleged that reimbursement for services were low enough that it caused a shortage of Medicaid providers throughout the state.

The settlement required Texas to increase Medicaid to incentivize providers to enroll in the system and fund a 50% increase in dental reimbursement rates. One way Texas decided do implement this was to contract with private companies "including the responsibility for oversight and prevention of fraud waste and abuse; the state also insisted on contract provisions requiring the private companies to swiftly process and pay Medicaid claims to ensure an unimpeded flow of services."

This unfortunately led to more abuse, as initially revealed TV station WFAA-TV in Dallas. Ensuing federal and state audits found that Texas dental providers were being paid for pediatric orthodontic services that were beyond what was medically required or justified - at least $191.4 million.

See Ellyn Sternfield, Texas: A Cautionary Tale for Medicaid Management and Managed Care Companies, Health Law Policy Matters, July 8, 2018.

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

July 10, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 9, 2018

Buzz Aldrin's Son Tells His Side of the Story

BuzzBuzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, appeared to have a picture perfect relationship with his son Andy, who accompanied him to the Galápagos Islands for his 80th birthday in 2010. That seems to have all changed as Buzz filed a lawsuit against Andy and his daughter Jan last month alleging fraud, conspiracy, and exploitation of the elderly.

Now at the age of 88, Buzz claims that his mental health is not diminishing. “I’m feeling younger and more energetic really than I have ever been in my life,” he said in an interview on Good Morning America. “There is less confusion and more clarity.”  

Andy said he believes a new set of managers wants to take control of Buzz’s space memorabilia, which is controlled by a trust that Buzz and his children set up in 2016. The lawsuit seeks to remove Andy from his role as trustee. Andy also stated that his father has only known his new attorney, Robert Bauer, for a month.

See Marina Koren, Buzz Aldrin's Son Tells His Side of the Story, The Atlantic, July 6, 2018.

Special thanks to Jim Hartnett (Dallas, Texas Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 9, 2018 in Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Two Older Employees Sued After Being Called "Dead Wood"

AgeJulianne Taaffe, 62, and Kathryn Moon, 67, in the English as a second language department at Ohio State since 1983, working with students from over 40 countries, essentially forming the the program "from the ground up." But in 2009, the new program director began to promote younger, less experienced staff members over the veteran employees.

“I couldn’t bring myself to believe Ohio State would do anything like that,” Ms. Moon said. A 2010 email from the director confirmed their fears, accidentally copied to one of the school's staff, stating that he was dealing with “an extraordinarily change-averse population of people, almost all of whom are over 50, contemplating retirement (or not) and it’s like herding hippos.”

The women retired in 2014, earlier than they had wished due to the uncomfortable environment and health issues derived from the stress of the situation. In November, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found “reasonable cause to believe” that the women and their older colleagues had been discriminated against, a violation of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects workers 40 and older. Last week Ohio State settled with the two ladies, hiring them back and paying them back wages. However, no action was taken against any employee - but the school has agreed to train human resources staff to recognize, investigate and prevent age discrimination.

See Paula Span, He Called Older Employees 'Dead Wood.' Two Sued for Age Discrimination, New York Times, July 6, 2018.

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

July 9, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Codicil Written in Blood Found to be Valid [New Jersey]

BloodThe Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, decided the case IN THE MATTER OF THE WILL OF E. WARREN BRADWAY, affirming the judgement of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division that the decedent's 2006 codicil, handwritten in his own blood, was valid due to clear and convincing evidence it was the decedent's intention to modify the previous will, and affirming an order denying sanctions and attorney's fees against the defendant because the eccentricity of the blood transcribed codicil allowed for the litigation to not be frivolous.

The decedent, E. Warren Bradway, had executed a will in 2001, effectively replacing his prior 1977 will. The 2001 will named his significant other at the time, Mark Coleman, as the prime beneficiary and executor. The two broke up in 2004 and no longer lived together. Later that year, Warren began a relationship with Kirston Baylock. Early 2006 Bradway wrote a codicil with his blood, naming Baylock as the prime beneficiary and executor, replacing Coleman in the 2001 will.

In 2011 Bradway moved in with Baylock, bringing along the 2001 and 2006 codicil. Bradway died unexpectedly in April of 2017. Bradway filed as executor, but Coleman claimed the domicil was not valid due to the nature of the instrument. Both parties had DNA and handwriting experts as witnesses, and had to use Bradway's brother's DNA to determine that the blood on the document was 99.99% related to the brother. At trial the court found for the estate by directed verdict.

See IN THE MATTER OF THE WILL OF E. WARREN BRADWAY, 2018 WL 3097060 (N.J. June 25, 2018).

July 6, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

No More Compromise: Indiana Supreme Court Closes Door to Pre-Mortem Settlement Agreements, Leaves Open Window

GavelOn June 19, the Indiana Supreme Court decided In the Matter of the Supervised Estate of Kent v. Kerr, rejecting a pre-mortem settlement agreement the Court of Appeals had unanimously validated last year.

The Indiana Supreme Court applied judicial statutory interpretation rules to the Compromise Chapter, which it determined was “ambiguous” as to whether it could apply to pre-mortem contracts because of its usage of the words "decedent" and "probate." The Kerr decision closes the door to pre-mortem settlement agreements under Indiana’s Probate Code, but it leaves open the possibility of upholding such an agreement under general contract principles.

See Sarah Jenkins, Jason M. Rauch, No More Compromise: Indiana Supreme Court Closes Door to Pre-Mortem Settlement Agreements, Leaves Open Window, FaegreBD.com, July 3, 2018.

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

July 5, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Cahill Ruling Makes Split-Dollar Arrangements Less Attractive

TaxIn the Estate of Richard E. Cahill, et al. v. Commissioner, the Tax Court denied partial summary judgment to an estate that contested a deficiency notice in which the Internal Revenue Service adjusted the value of the decedent’s rights in three split-dollar life insurance arrangements from $183,700 to more than $9.61 million. The court declined to grant partial summary judgment on the estate’s arguments that Internal Revenue Code Sections 2036, 2038 and 2703 didn’t apply to the split-dollar arrangement and that Treasury Regulations Section 1.61-22 did apply in valuing the decedent’s interest in the split-dollar arrangements for estate tax purposes. The court’s decision will make the use of split-dollar policies less attractive as a way to shift wealth from one generation to the next and potentially may impact other estate planning vehicles.

See Justin Ransome & N. Todd Angkatavanich, Cahill Ruling Majes Split-Dolllar Arrangements Less Attractive, Wealth Management, June 26, 2018.

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

 

June 28, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Coerced Cremation" and a Lawsuit

ConfessionThe widow of 64-year-old Robert Yeager, Enid, was in great mourning when she was faced with a difficult dilemma - her husband had died of heart and liver disease in October, 2012, causing his body to swell beyond what was appropriate for a normal casket. An oversized casket was a costlier option, but Yeager claimed that the funeral home pushed her to have her husband's body cremated against his written last wishes.

Yeager sued Miser Mortuaries in Conrad, Montana for $1 million in damages in 2015 for severe emotional distress. After a 4-day long trial the jury found that the funeral home negligent and was liable for coercing the widow into cremating her husband. The jury drastically lowered the award for Yeager, however, to $50,000.

Communication between the widow and the funeral home appear to be more to blame than out-right malicious intent.

See Caleb Wilde, An 'Exploding Dead Body,' a 'Coerced Cremation' and a Lawsuit, CalebWilde.com, June 23, 2018; see also Seaborn Larson, Jury: Mortuary Business Negligent for Cremating Man Against his Wishes, Awards Widow $50,000, Great Falls Tribune, June 15, 2018.

June 28, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)