Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

Florida Judge Rules that Same Sex Spouses Must Be Added to Death Certificates

Florida judgeAfter the 2015 Obergefell decision, people were asking Florida to change the death certificates that indicated a partner in a same-sex relationship died unmarried without a surviving spouse. Florida refused and stated that they would not do so unless compelled to by an individual court order. Eventually, several widowers filed a lawsuit on behalf of all Floridians whose deceased same-sex spouses’ death certificates recorded them unmarried. The judge ruled in their favor, ordering the state to correct the death certificates and give way to Obergefell’s constitutional command.

See Mark Joseph Stern, Federal Judge Rules Florida Must Add Same Sex Spouses to Death Certificates, Slate, March 24, 2017.

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

March 27, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Alexia Echevarria Acuses Stepsons of Seizing Her Assets After Husband's Death

AlexiAlexia Echevarria recently filed court documents, alleging that her stepsons are attempting to seize her Miami Beach mansion and Maserati only months after her husband’s death. Both sons are heirs to their father’s estate and co-personal representatives of his probate estate, but Echevarria claims they are clearly ignoring their father’s wishes. The couple’s prenup stated that upon the husband’s death, the Miami Beach house would be transferred solely to his wife.

See Amanda Ulrich, EXCLUSIVE: Real Housewives of Miami Star Alexia Echevarria Accuses Her Stepsons of Trying to Seize Her $3 Million Miami Beach Home and Maserati After Her Husband’s Sudden Death, Daily Mail, March 21, 2017.

March 24, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Phyllis Schlafly's Children Are at War over Their Inheritance

SchlaflyThe children of late conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly are ignited in a legal battle over their inheritance, which has continued ever since their mother expressed her support for Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries. Schlafly’s daughter filed legal documents this week, alleging that her brother sabotaged her inheritance by influencing their mother to change her will before she died. Specifically, the daughter claims that the will was amended to include a clause that states any legal disputes must be paid out of their inheritance. Further, Schlafly’s daughter has fought to ban her mother’s “hand picked successor” from using her mother’s legacy to raise money

See Jennifer Smith, Children of Late Conservative Icon Phyllis Schlafly at War over Their Inheritance and Have Been Fighting Since She Threw Her Support Behind Donald Trump, Daily Mail, March 23, 2017.

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

March 24, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judge Rules Obergefell Applies Retroactively

Common law marriageA South Carolina judge recently ruled that a same-sex couple who split up after thirty years together had a common-law marriage. This potentially marks the first time that a judge determined Obergefell applies retroactively. The case originated when one of the partners asked for a division of property. The opposing party argued that she did not consider their relationship a marriage. Ultimately, the judge concluded that the common-law marriage started when one of the women divorced her husband in 1987. The couple owned a home together and shared joint bank accounts.

See Stephanie Francis Ward, Family Court Judge Rules Obergefell Applies Retroactively, and Women Had a Common-Law Marriage, ABA J., March 20, 2017.

March 24, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Judge Allows Wife to Undergo IVF with Dead Husband's Sperm

IvfA Barcelona judge is allowing a woman to use her dead husband’s sperm to undergo in vitro fertilization. The prosecution argued against the ruling, stating that it was not possible to obtain her late husband’s consent—a moral argument, not a legal one. The couple started the process back in 2014, when the husband froze his sperm before undergoing an aggressive cancer treatment that potentially would make him sterile. One day before the cancer took the man’s life, the couple got married in the hospital. In the year proceeding, the woman tried to get pregnant four times, but Spanish law only permits the use of genetic material from a deceased person for twelve months after their death. With this ruling, the woman intends to make the most of her husband’s legacy.

See Judge Allows Woman to Undergo In Vitro Fertilization with Dead Husband’s Sperm, Fox News, March 23, 2017.

March 23, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Brothers Lose Their Inheritance over Legal Bid to Keep Stepmother from Getting an Extra $30,000

Farmers sonsRichard and Jonathan Powell, two brothers, were recently slammed by a judge after blowing their entire inheritance in a hopeless bid to stop their stepmother from getting an extra $30,000 from their father’s will. Initially, the brothers claimed that their disabled father did not have the proper capacity when making his final will and granting his second wife $155,000. Further, they argued that an earlier will was his final and true will, which would have awarded their stepmother $125,000. At the final ruling, the judge blasted the brothers as unreasonable and forced them to pick up the final $250,000 legal bill, which wiped out their own inheritances of $75,000 each. The judge was appalled that the Powell brothers would fight such a frivolous claim driven by personal issues.

See Richard Spillett, Farmer’s Sons Lose Their ENTIRE £200,000 Inheritance from Father’s Will in Doomed Legal Bid to Stop Their Stepmother Getting an Extra £25,000, Daily Mail, March 17, 2017.

Special thanks to Jin Xu Spinhirne for bringing this article to my attention.  

March 18, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Audrey Hepburn's Two Sons Agree to Split Her Memorabilia

HepburnAudrey Hepburn was known for her elegant style, and after her death in 1993, she left behind a treasure trove of memorabilia, which included costumes, jewelry, photos, scripts, and awards. This memorabilia, however, incited a legal battle over who would get what between her two sons. Hepburn had left her assets to her sons equally, but she presented no strict guidelines as to who received each particular item. After a two-year-long battle, it seems that the brothers might finally be coming to an agreement by attending mediation and signing a memorabilia agreement. 

While one legal battle ends, another is only beginning, as the eldest son was sued this past week over his interference with the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund. The charity was planning to exhibit some of Hepburn’s dresses and other memorabilia, which is the organization’s main source of funding, but there are now claims that Hepburn’s son is halting the exhibition and potentially tarnishing the charity’s reputation. 

See Amanda Ulrich, EXCLUSIVE: Audrey Hepburn’s Sons Agree to Split Their Late Mother’s Treasure Trove of Belongings, Including Costumes, Jewelry, Scripts and Awards, After Two-Year Legal Dispute, Daily Mail, March 9, 2017. 

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

 

March 9, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Heirs Looking to Invoke New Act in Case over Nazi-Looted Art

Art lootingThe Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act was enacted to help Holocaust heirs recover art stolen from their families during World War II. The Act will finally be put to the test in a New York court, as the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum are looking to claim two valuable drawings by Egon Schiele. The heirs claim that Grunbaum’s collection, which included eighty-one Schieles, was confiscated by the Nazis. Countering that argument, collectors, dealers, and some museums argue that the Nazis did not steal it and that Grunbaum’s sister-in-law sold fifty-three of the Schieles to an art dealer in 1956. Further, the opponents argue that previous courts have found that they were not stolen. Ultimately, the heirs hope the Act will help them prove they are victims of Nazi art looting. 

See William D. Cohan, A Suit over Schiele Drawings Invokes New Law on Nazi-Looted Art, N.Y. Times, February 27, 2017. 

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

 

March 2, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Woman Wins Right to Die After Suffering from Eating Disorder

Right to die2A woman who battled a severe eating disorder for most of her life has died after winning the right to refuse forced feeding. A New Jersey judge granted her the right to “live free from medical intervention.” The legal battle began when her court-appointed guardian entered an order allowing her to join palliative care instead of being force fed through a feeding tube. The case brings attention to those who suffer from disorders and want to enforce their right to die. 

See Ellie Kaufman, Woman with Eating Disorder Dies After Court Grants Her that Right, CNN, February 22, 2017. 

 

February 24, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

One of England's Most Evil Killers Is Fighting for His Right to Die

Right to dieThe Moors Murders have haunted England since the 1960s, but now, one of the killers is fighting for his right to die. Ian Brady is currently in poor health and fighting to be removed from a secure hospital back to a prison in his native Scotland. Scottish prisons do not force-feed inmates, so Brady would like the chance to refuse food and die. However, the hospital where he is currently staying claims that his chronic mental illness is keeping him from being transferred. Brady lost his first legal fight to move locations back in 2013 and his most recent one earlier this week. 

See Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, UK’s ‘Most Evil’ Serial Killer Is Fighting for Right to Die, Fox News, February 22, 2017. 

 

February 23, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)