Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sony Rescinds Settlement Agreement Involving Nina Simone Case

Nina simoneSony Music has recently filed paperwork to rescind a settlement agreement in a case involving Nina Simone’s estate that has been ongoing for 25 years.  The lawyers for Sony have been adamant about keeping the details of the settlement agreement private. 

Steven Ames Brown, who was Nina Simone’s attorney, had been assigned 40% of the rights to Simone’s music that he had previously recovered.  Brown claims that he only conveyed to Sony the reproduction rights to Nina Simone’s music and not the rights to the physical embodiment of the recordings.  Steven Brown and Sony Music had entered into a settlement agreement which Sony is now rescinding on claims that Brown has not lived up to his end of the bargain.

See Ian Holubiak, Nina Simone’s Secret 25-Year Lawsuit With Sony Comes To A Head, Classicalite, May 11, 2015.

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

May 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The ABLE Act Has Some Drawbacks

Able actI have previously discussed the ABLE Act, which allows for the creation of a trust to help pay for the expenses of a person with a disability without disqualifying that person from receiving government benefits.  As of now there are eleven states that have enacted the ABLE Act and another six states with pending legislation.  In order to benefit from the law a person would need to live in a state that has enacted the ABLE Act.

One problem with the ABLE Act is a Medicaid recovery procedure called a “clawback.”  If a person with a disability who received Medicaid benefits dies with money still left in their ABLE account Medicaid will be able to make a claim to that account through its clawback option.  Some families might prefer setting up a traditional special needs trust as an alternative to using an ABLE account.  The ABLE Act is still a good idea for people with disabilities who want to save for themselves without risking the loss of government benefits.

See Liz Weston, The Limitations Of ABLE Accounts For The Disabled, Reuters, May 18, 2015.

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

May 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How Slayer Statutes Help Prevent Profiting From Murder

TrusteeOn May 12, Diana Nadell was convicted of murdering her 80 year old mother so that she could inherit wealth from her estate.  State governments often deal with these types of situations by creating “slayer statutes” that are intended to prevent evil beneficiaries like Diana Nadell from profiting off of their crimes.  The specific rules of these types of statutes vary from each state, but they often involve the similar goal of preventing people from benefiting from the inheritance of a person that they murdered. 

See David H. Lenock, Slayer Statutes In The Spotlight, Trusts & Estates, May 13, 2015.

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

May 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ireland Goes To The Polls On Same-Sex Marriage Amendment

Irish Flag OldIreland looks to break ground as one of the first western countries to enshrine marriage rights for same-sex couples in its constitution. Polls are showing a 10 point lead for the referendum with a large majority of under-30 individuals supporting but the over 65 crowd saying no by a similarly large margin. In this traditionally Roman Catholic country the Church has largely stayed out of the fray despite sticking to its official "no" stance. In 2015, the Irish parliament enacted a marriage equality bill but this vote would make the law unrepealable without another constitutional amendment. I will keep you updated on this story as it develops.

See Peter Foster, Ireland Gay Marriage Referendum: What You Need To Know, The Telegraph, May 19, 2015.

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

 

May 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How To Help Clients Avoid Social Security Mistakes

Social SecurityMany retirees opt to take social security benefits early so they can fill in the gaps of their retirement income when they first leave the workforce. However, this strategy easily backfires as taking the payout early leaves a massive amount of money on the table that will be missed down the road. Some tips to avoid having to make that tradeoff include reverse mortgaging a home or saving extra in the last years working in order to float by until full retirement kicks in. Smart planning for the future can allow someone to always take the best option for the pocketbook rather than having to take less to fill an immediate need.

See Help Clients Avoid Social Security Mistakes: Retirement Scan, Financial Planning, May 14, 2015.

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

 

 

 

 

 

May 20, 2015 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article On Digital Property And Probate In Florida

Nova Law SchoolStorm Tropea (J.D. Candidate, Nova Southeastern Law School, 2015) recently published an article entitled, Social Media Is Permanent, You Are Not: Evaluating The Digital Property Dilemma In Florida Probate, 39 Nova L. Rev. 91-116 (2014). Provided below is an excerpt from the article:

The digital after life  has quickly become the brave new world of probate law and estate planning. The reason for this is because as recently as 2010, reports show that "[seventy-seven percent] of Americans use e-mail or the Internet, at least occasionally."  Yet, a similar study now reveals that number has increased to show that eighty-seven percent of American adults are now using the Internet. More significantly, while nearly nine out of ten Americans from the ages of eighteen through forty-five use the Internet, ninety-seven percent of young adults ages eighteen through twenty-nine are regularly using the Internet.  The Internet has become so prevalent in society that fifty-nine percent of young adults ages eighteen through twenty-nine cite the Internet as their primary source for news, both nationally and internationally. Furthermore, research shows that nearly eig ht out of ten young adults ages eighteen through twenty-four "have created their own social networking profile." With this expanding popularity, words like selfie and social media have now been deeply ingrained in our language, and it seems like social networking, e-mail, and microblogging are here to stay; unfortunately, we are not. Therefore, this continually debated legal question still exists: What happens to our digital assets when we die? 

May 20, 2015 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Spendthrift Trust Provision Hold Off Bankruptcy Trustee

GavelWhen Faith Campbell created a living trust she made sure to include a spendthrift provision assuming that it would protect her money from any creditors of the beneficiaries. But after her death, a beneficiary went into bankruptcy and the bankruptcy court ruled that the trust had terminated upon completion of probate and the share of the beneficiary was available to the trustee.

In Safanda v. Castellano, the U.S. District Court ruled that the trust was protected under section 541(c)(2) which prevents a trust interest from being included in a bankruptcy estate. The court rejected the argument that "estate settled" in the trust meant the completion of the probate estate instead giving it a broader reading and protecting the assets in the process.

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

May 20, 2015 in New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Irish Voters Will Decide On Same Sex Marriage

Same-sex-unionsThis Friday, voters across Ireland will be deciding on whether to ratify The Marriage Equality Bill of 2015 which passed with overwhelming majorities in the Dail (Ireland's Parliament).  If the bill passes then Ireland will become the first country to legalize same sex marriage through a national referendum.  The polls currently show the “yes” campaign in the lead.  The Catholic Church, which opposes the bill, has avoided weighing in too heavily on the issue leaving most of the “no” campaign to lay Catholics and other outside groups.  Even though 85% of the Irish population still self-identify as Roman Catholic, polls are showing strong support for marriage equality among the public.

See Peter Foster, Ireland Gay Marriage Referendum: What You Need To Know, The Telegraph, May 19, 2015.

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

 

May 19, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

B.B. King's Daughters Want To Help With Late Musicians Memorial

Bb kingI have previously discussed the dispute between three of B.B. King's daughters and his manager and guardian Laverne Toney.  The three sisters now hope that Toney will include them in the planning in creating a memorial for the late blues legend.  The daughters were devastated when their father passed away before they ever got a chance to say a final goodbye.

See B.B. King’s Daughters Urge Manager To Let Them Help With Memorial Plans, World Entertainment News Network, May 16, 2015.  

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

 

May 19, 2015 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Guardianship, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Foundations Request To Be Beneficiary Rejected By Hong Kong's Top Court

Nina wangHong Kong's top court has ruled that the Chinachem Charitable Foundation is a trustee and not a beneficiary of a trust created by the late tycoon Nina Wang.  The Court held that Nina Wang made it clear in her will that she intended for the Foundation to serve as the trustee of a charitable trust.  The Court rejected the Foundations request to receive part of her $83 billion estate as an absolute gift.  As a trustee the Foundation will have to submit to a greater amount of supervision from the court to make sure its charitable intent is fulfilled.

See Thomas Chan, Court rules Nina Wang intended her foundation to hold fortune as a trustee, not beneficiary, South China Morning Post, May 18, 2015.

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

May 19, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)