Monday, March 27, 2017
Alfred L. Brophy, Deborah Gordon, Norman P. Stein & Caryl Yzenbaard recently published a book entitled, Experiencing Trusts and Estates (2017). Provided below is a summary of the book:
This casebook takes a more experiential approach to the teaching of trusts and estates law. This first edition features recent cases and model documents in almost every chapter of the book; it also preserves many of the most famous and teachable trusts and estates cases. The opening chapters introduce students to issues around planning for incapacity and death and to accessible and understandable material on estate and gift taxes. The remainder of the book focuses on estate planning for low and moderate income individuals, professional responsibility issues as they arise in a trusts and estates practice, and traditional and contemporary cases and documents designed to expose students to the most important concerns that arise in a trusts and estates practice. Each chapter also features extensive notes and questions designed to help lead students through the major issues, and an appendix provides full versions of various historical “celebrity” wills and contemporary model trusts. A voluminous teacher’s manual accompanies the book, with briefs of every principal case and extensive notes designed to aid the teacher in advancing classroom discussion on nearly every note in the casebook. The teacher’s manual also includes additional problems and other materials designed to develop professional skills.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
A Swiss clinic, Dignitas, has created a virtual reality assisted suicide film, “The Last Moments,” that represents a person’s experience who wishes to accept the clinic’s services. Over the last two decades, hundreds of people have gone to the clinic to end life on their own terms. The film not only immerses the viewer in the assisted suicide setting, but it also allows the person to make a choice of whether to end their virtual life right then or carry on living. The film depicts two characters: a crying loved one and the woman who presents the viewer their final choice.
See Cheyenne MacDonald, What It’s Really Like to Die: Swiss Assisted Suicide Clinic Dignitas Reveals Harrowing VR Death Stimulator, Daily Mail, March 24, 2017.
Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds’s public memorial was held yesterday, consisting of singing, dancing, and memories. The memorial was held at Forest Lawn inside a 1,200-seat theater, which was almost at full capacity. Reynolds’s son, Todd Fisher, led the ceremony, featuring a video tribute, dance performances from Reynolds’s studio, and closing words from Dan Aykroyd.
See Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds: Public Memorial Draws Hundreds to Forest Lawn, TMZ, March 25, 2017.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Oddly enough, atheists and extremely religious individuals have something in common: they are among the individuals least afraid of dying. Research suggests that those who lack belief in a higher power seek comfort in death. On the other hand, those who are religious for social or emotional benefits often tend to suffer from the most death anxiety, or persistent fear of one’s own death. The study specifically looked at 100 articles published between 1961 and 2014 to determine how religious beliefs affected death anxiety throughout the years.
See Stacy Liberatore, How Afraid Are YOU of Dying? Researchers Say Atheists and the Most Religious Are Least Scared, Daily Mail, March 24, 2017.
Oftentimes, names like “sweetie” or “dear” signal terms of endearment, but why might this gesture be taken as patronizing? A new study shows that elders suffering from dementia are usually exposed to “elderspeak”—a loud, slow form of baby talk for seniors—which makes them feel incompetent, leading to social isolation and cognitive decline. Communication training can help to reduce the number of diminutives, terms of endearment, and collective pronouns that caregivers often use with their patients.
See Mary Kekatos, Don’t Call Me Sweetie! Why We Should Never Use ‘Elderspeak’ to Talk Down to Dementia Patients, Daily Mail, March 24, 2017.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Alexia 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.
The 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.
A 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.
Self-driving cars might be a viable means of getting from place to place for older adults in the near future. Currently, approximately 16 million Americans sixty-five and older live in communities where the public transportation is poor or nonexistent. That number is expected to grow rapidly as the baby boomer generation continues to remain outside the major cities. Autonomous vehicles could be the key for closing this concerning mobility gap for an aging society, while automakers are vying in the race to reduce or eliminate the amount of time a person actually spends driving in a vehicle. However, there are several impediments that would need to be worked out, as the elderly understandably have a harder time adjusting to such technology. Accordingly, automakers should be aware of older drivers because if they do not trust the technology, the business will potentially slow.
See Mary M. Chapman, Self-Driving Cars Could Be Boon for Aged, After Initial Hurdles, N.Y. Times, March 23, 2017.
Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Your debts may die with you, but that does not mean those you love will not be affected by it. The type of debt, where you live, and the value of your estate all affect the complexity of debt at death. There are several ways to make sure that debt does not make a complete mess of your estate, such as consistently reviewing your debt, considering life insurance, and meeting with an estate planning attorney. So, if you would like to provide for your loved ones after your death, you should not let poor planning get in your way and create a plan that allows them to relish in your legacy.
See Christine DiGangi, Americans Are Dying with an Average of $62K of Debt, Fox Business, March 21, 2017.