Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Difficulties Of Talking About Death

SuitcaseDiscussing death with loved ones can be both a sad and morbid topic, though it is important because far too many people are not prepared for the process of dying.  In this column, Ellen Goodman discusses her own experiences dealing with the death of her father and then her mother decades later.  She pointed out how she was unprepared for the stress of being bombarded with decisions that she had to make for her mother who had diminished capacity.  Goodman started the ‘Conversation Project’ with a small group of people in order to help improve end-of-life care and get people comfortable about discussing these difficult issues.  Her hope is to transform the cultural norm about not wanting to talk about the end of life issues that loved ones will face. 

See Ellen Goodman, How to Talk About Dying, The New York Times, July 1, 2015.

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

July 2, 2015 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kirk Kerkorian’s Legacy Continues After His Passing

Kerkorian2I have previously discussed the estate of the late billionaire casino tycoon Kirk Kerkorian.  It appears that Kerkorians influence and legacy over MGM Resorts will continue to be wielded through his close friend and executor of his estate Anthony Mendekic, who is the CEO of Tracinda Corp., a holding company that owns a large portion of MGM Resorts.  Kerkorian left instructions for Mendekic to conduct an orderly disposition of MGM Resort shares.  MGM Resorts is continuing to expand, with a number of projects underway in different parts of the country.  Kirk Kerkorians legacy over the large company is going to continue long after his death. 

See Howard Stutz, Inside Gaming: Even after death, Kerkorian’s legacy through Tracinda will wield influence, RGT Online, July 1, 2015.

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

July 2, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why It's A Good Idea For Young Couples To Estate Plan

TrustMost young couples do not take the death of either one into consideration when it comes to planning for the future. This perfectly understandable position seems logical until the realities of probate, guardianship of children, and other estate matters come into focus. For example, most people assume that certain after death acts will be automatic such as a spouse taking everything in the estate. But, in many states, the spouse will take all in limited circumstances with everything depending on intestate laws which have great variation between states. Retirement saving plans might also be a problem since beneficiary forms, created before a relationship and often immediately forgotten, may not name a person the owner now would want to inherit. These. and a wide swath of other issues, should be mentioned to any young couple that comes in for a consultation. While the expense may seem unnecessary now, preparation is enormously helpful should an estate plan ever need to be put into effect.

See Andrew Rusniak, Estate Planning for Young Families, JD Supra, June 26, 2015.

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

July 2, 2015 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

DuPont Beneficiary Accuses Bank Of Trust Mismanagement

GavelAn heiress of the famed DuPont family is suing M&T Bank, as successor to the bought out Wilmington Trust Co., for mismanagement and unjust enrichment in connection with several trust managed by the bank. The heiress alleges that the bank intentionally invested in illiquid funds in order to profit from management fees gained from property that needed little oversight. She also accuses the bank of taking funds from other, unrelated trust for payment on a loan the bank made to her that was secured by a specific trust worth and had never been in arrears. Damages sought include the disgorgement of all profit made from the trust and the removal of the bank as trustee.

See Maureen Milford, Du Pont heiress paints unflattering picture of Wilmington Trust, Delaware Online, June 13, 2015.

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

July 2, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Giving By Parents Before Death Reducing Inheritance For Many Children

Piggy BankRecently, the Wall Street Journal reported that withdrawals from 401(k)'s have exceeded new deposits for the first time. This is to expected as more Boomers hit retirement but part of the change has come for a different reason, more money is being given to support younger generations. The biggest transfers are from the youngest members of the Boomers, think age 50-64 crowd, with them giving an average of $4,000 per year. But with all these gifts comes one stark reality, the inheritance many expect is going to be lower and potentially create intrafamily fights if one child benefited more from gifts during the deceased lifetime. Only time will tell the full extant of the impact but it is worth keeping an eye on as the situation evolves.

See Randall W. Forsyth, Boomers Spend Their Kids’ Inheritance — on Supporting Them, Barron's, June 26, 2015.

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

July 2, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE On Planning for the Probate Contest

CLEThe American Bar Association is presenting a CLE entitled Live From Skill Training: Planning for the Probate Contest, Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 5:00-6:30 p.m. Eastern, online.  This is a webcast of one of the sessions of the Skills Training for Estate Planners program held at the New York Law School.

Here is why you should attend:

Although many estate planning arrangements are implemented without controversy, given family dynamics involved in such planning, drafting attorneys should be mindful of the possibility that family members will disagree.   Those who are dissatisfied with an estate plan may resort to court proceedings.   This segment of the STEP program will introduce attendees to the essential concepts of probate litigation, including will and trust disputes, contests, and fiduciary litigation.   Those engaged in the estate planning process should be aware of the manner in which probate litigation arises so that they can plan to avoid such disputes (as much as possible).   After reviewing those concepts, this segment will explore some of the planning approaches that can be pursued to avoid probate litigation.

July 2, 2015 in Conferences & CLE, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Saudi Prince Alwaleed Has Pledged His Entire $32 Billion Fortune To Charity

Prince alwaleedSaudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has pledged to donate his entire $32 billion dollar fortune to charitable causes in the coming years.  Prince Alwaleed has been in close coordination with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the charity that Alwaleed would like to serve as the model for his philanthropic endeavors.  The 60 year old Saudi Prince is the nephew of the late King Abdullah.  In Saudi Arabia, Prince Alwaleed does not currently hold any government rank.  The prince has been involved in a number of lucrative business projects.  This current promise of extreme generosity is unprecedented for the region, Prince Alwaleed plans to use the money to “help build bridges to foster cultural understanding, develop communities, empower women, enable youth, provide vital disaster relief and create a more tolerant and accepting world."

See Ian Timberlake, Saudi Prince Alwaleed pledges $32 bn fortune to charity, Yahoo Finance, July 1, 2015.

Special thanks to Adam Hirsch for bringing this article to my attention. 

July 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

South Korean Court Rules Against Effort To Block Samsung Takeover Bid

LeeA South Korean court has blocked an effort by a U.S. hedge fund to block a takeover deal involving Samsung.  Elliott Associates is trying to prevent Samsung C&T Corporation from taking over a central holding company called Cheil Industries.  The shareholders will be meeting later this month to vote on whether to approve the deal.  This column discusses how South Korean courts have a history of ruling against firms that challenge large Korean interests on matters involving mergers and acquisitions.  If the estimated $8 billion merger is successful it will help the Lee family maintain control over the Samsung empire.

See Donald Kirk, Samsung Heirs Win Court Decision In Fight With Elliott For Inheritance, Forbes, July 1, 2015. 

July 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Complex Battle Over Robin William’s Estate

Robin_williams1-267x300I have previously discussed the complicated dispute between Robin William’s wife and his three children over the late actor’s estate.  The children of the late actor and comedian are in a disagreement with Susan Williams over how much money she should receive.  The two opposing parties in this dispute have already settled most of their differences over how to divide the actor’s personal belongings.  In his will Robin Williams left Susan the Tiburon home that they lived in together with instructions that she is to receive enough money to support her.  Lawyers on both sides are disputing over how much money she should receive.

See Robin Williams’ family at odds over how to divide estate, Fox News, June 1, 2015.

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

July 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

When People Post About Funerals On Social Media

Funeral-trust25-crop-600x338It is very common for people to post just about every detail of their life on social media services like Facebook or Twitter.  This column discusses some of the controversy surrounding the increasing number of people who post pictures and comments about funerals on their social media accounts and the mixed feelings that society has about this new trend.  Some people believe that funerals should be private affairs and would not like it if somebody took a picture of the casket and posted it on Facebook or Twitter.  There are other individuals who have no issue with sharing pictures and information about funerals with their social media networks.  As social media technology continues to develop these concerns about privacy will continue to become more prevalent. 

See Leanne Italie, For social media fans, funerals are now fair game: Share, comment, or take a selfie?, Arkansas Online, July 1, 2015.

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

July 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)