Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Man Found Not Guilty of Abusing Wife With Alzheimer's

Henry rayhonsOn Wednesday an Iowa jury found Henry Rayhons not guilty of charges that he sexually abused his wife, an Alzheimer’s patient.  Rayhons, 78, a farmer and former Republican state legislator, was accused of having sex with his wife in a nursing home after staff members told him she had become cognitively unable to give consent. 

This case has ignited a national discussion as to whether people with dementia are capable of indicating they desire intimacy.  At trial, Rayhons testified that his wife continued to desire and initiate physical contact.  He told the prosecutor, “I always assumed that if somebody asks for something, they have the capacity” to consent. 

See Pam Belluck, Iowa Man Found Not Guilty of Sexually Abusing Wife with Alzheimer’s, The New York Times, Apr. 22, 2015.

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

April 23, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UNM Indian Estate Planning Clinic

Indian clinic

The University of New Mexico Law School is holding its first-ever Indian Estate Planning Clinic on Saturday, April 25 from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm at the UNM Law School.  Attendance is limited, pre-registration is required and walk-ins are not allowed.  Provided below is more information regarding the clinic:

State judges, attorneys and State bar staff have come together at the request of SILC to be trained in the law and to provide this free service of drafting wills for Native Americans.  Services are being provided because the American Indian Probate Reform Act, a federal law that provides specific requirements for federal Indian trust property, requires expertise in Indian law and estate planning in order to competently serve the Native American client in many situations.

April 23, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Elvis Planes Leaving Graceland

ElvisThe two private jets owned by Elvis Presley will be removed from Graceland later this month. The planes, Hound Dog II and Lisa Marie, will be moved down the street to what will become the location of a new Elvis museum. The Memphis City Council approved the move on Monday.

See Helen Moss, Elvis's Beloved Planes Will be Moved From Graceland, Daily Mail, Apr. 21, 2015.

April 23, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Where Are Mom & Dad's Wills? Majority Don't Know

QuestionA phone survey conducted in March, asked 1,000 adults what they knew about their parents estate planning. The majority of those surveyed did not know where to find their parent's estate planning document or what their parents' wishes were, and 16 percent did not know whether the documents existed.

See Survey: Americans Lack Will To Make Wills Or Talk About Them, WTOP, Apr. 22, 2015.

April 23, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How Robin Williams is Protecting His Image After Death

Robin_WilliamsRobin Williams avoided a common problem with celebrity estates by including his publicity rights in his estate planning. Williams transferred his publicity rights to a charitable organization, the Windfall Foundation. This move not only provides protection of how Williams' personal brand is treated after his death, but also avoids the value of his publicity rights being included in his taxable estate.

See Gerard Cukier & Sameena Munir, What Can Robin Williams Teach You About Managing Your Personal Brand?, Music Week, Apr. 22, 2015.

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

April 23, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Art Replacing Gold

Apartment Gold is losing ground on being the popular wealth store asset. The assets that have replaced gold as front runners for wealth stores are contemporary art and apartments. Popular locations for apartment investments are Manhattan, Vancouver, and London.

See Bloomberg News, N.Y. Apartments, Art Top Gold As Stores Of Wealth, BlackRock Chief Says, Private Wealth, Apr. 21, 2015.

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

April 23, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Attorney Sentenced for Probate Theft

Gavel 3Seventy-year-old Arizona attorney Rodney Matheson was found guilty on charges of theft and fraud for stealing money from his deceased clients’ probate accounts.  Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Bruce R. Cohen sentenced Matheson to 2 ½ years in prison and also ordered Matheson repay more than $1 million to an attorney representing the Mayo Clinic.  Cohen placed Matheson on probation on a fraudulent schemes conviction for seven years, which will begin once he is released from prison. 

According to court documents, Matheson orchestrated an elaborate “shell game” by stealing money from several estates in order to satisfy a court order for payment of $800,000 to the Mayo Clinic, the major beneficiary of a third estate.  The fraud was uncovered when the Mayo Clinic filed a civil suit to collect $1.2 million left to the hospital as a beneficiary by the Mary Jane Schalow Trust.

See Disbarred East Valley Attorney Sentenced to Prison in Probate Theft Case, AZ Central, Apr. 21, 2015. 

April 22, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Malpractice, Professional Responsibility, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scamming Seniors

Fraud 1

Many senior citizens have worked hard for their retirement, and plan to spend their golden years traveling, spending time with family, or pursuing second careers.  However, con artists are creating schemes that threaten their accumulated wealth.  Below are a few of these plots:

  1. IRS Scam. Senior citizens are receiving phone calls from scammers claiming to be IRS agents.  They claim to be calling about unpaid back taxes and threaten the senior with anything from lawsuits to arrest. 
  2. Health Care Scam.  People call as health care or Medicare representatives to gain access to personal information.  They will then use this information to call back at a later date and say they spoke with a relative and it is okay to give them their Social Security numbers or driver’s license numbers.  In many cases, they use the information to bill Medicare and pocket the money.
  3. Great-Grandchild Scam.  Scammers will call seniors and pretend to be a grandchild or great-grandchild and ask for money.  Oftentimes, they know just enough information from the Internet to get the senior to open up.
  4. Prescription Scams.  Due to the rising costs of prescription drugs, many seniors are going online to purchase their medicines.  Yet, these drugs can be counterfeit, making this an extremely dangerous scam.  In other circumstances, fraudsters take the money without delivering the drugs.
  5. Obituary Scam.  In this scam, fraudsters read obituaries from the paper and call the deceased relative’s family demanding money for a supposed outstanding debt that the deceased left behind. 

See Ana Gonzalez Ribeiro, 7 Costly Scams That Target Senior Citizens, Bankrate, 2015.

April 22, 2015 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Court Holds Trust May Be Reformed to Insert Beneficiaries

TrustAccording to the recent Florida case, Megiel-Rollo v. Megiel, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 5601 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Apr. 17, 2015), a trust can be reformed to add beneficiaries when the trust initially fails to include any beneficiaries. 

In the aforementioned case, the decedent prepared a will naming her three children as equal beneficiaries.  Years later, the decedent created a revocable trust, deeding her real property to the trust.  However, upon the death of the decedent, the trust failed to name any beneficiaries.  A dispute subsequently arose among the three children of the decedent regarding the intended beneficiary. 

The drafting attorney filed an affidavit, stating he had made a mistake and should have prepared the Schedule of Beneficial Interest naming only two of the decedent’s children as the beneficiaries of the trust.  Under Section 736.0415 of the Florida Trust Code, a trust may be reformed to correct a mistake.  The court allowed for the possibility of reformation in order to limit the trust to the two children. 

See Jeffrey Skatoff, Trust Can Be Reformed to Add Beneficiaries, Florida Probate Lawyers, Apr. 22, 2015.

April 22, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article on Wills, Trusts, Guardianships and Fiduciary Administration

Mary RadfordMary F. Radford (Marjorie Fine Knowles Professor of Law, Georgia State University College of Law) recently published an article entitled, Wills, Trusts, Guardianships and Fiduciary Administration, 66 Mercer L. Rev. 231-245 (2014).  Provided below is the article’s introduction.

This Article describes selected cases and significant legislation from the period of June 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011 that pertain to Georgia fiduciary law and estate planning.

April 22, 2015 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)