Wednesday, January 22, 2014
As I have previously discussed, the cases of Jahi McMath and Marlise Munoz raise controversial questions regarding how to proceed with end-of-life care. So how do the world’s leading religions handle end-of-life issues?
The article below contains answers from a panel of distinguished religious leaders on questions concerning medical treatment, suffering, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, prolonging life, and hastening death.
See Rajan Zed, Faith Forum: How to Approach End-of-Life Issues, RGJ.com, Jan. 19, 2014.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
The death of the head of the Indian family that once ruled the south kingdom of Travancore has revealed a temple of untold treasures.
Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma died at age 91 and was known for his frugality. So upon his death, no one expected the fabulous wealth he had kept stored away in the vaults of the ancient Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple.
After the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the vaults should be opened, treasures worth an estimated £26 billion were discovered. The antiques include gold ornaments, weapons, crowns, statutes of Hindu deities, East India Company coins, and bagfuls of precious stones.
See Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma – Obituary, The Telegraph, Dec. 19, 2013.
Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
The Supreme Court annulled the will of Demeter Simeonidou, a Muslim man in Thrace who left his assets to his wife by preparing a will in accordance with Greek civil law. Simeonidou’s sister challenged the will, claiming she was entitled to her fair share of his estate because the Islamic law of succession does not recognize a Muslim’s right to make a will.
See Abed Alloush, Shocking Decision from Greek Supreme Court, Greek Reporter, Nov. 10, 2013; see also Katerina Nikolas, Greek Supreme Court Puts Sharia Law Before Civil Law, Digital Journal, Nov. 11, 2013.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Bryan and Dusty Schoening’s home is an attraction in of itself with its eleven restored hearses, two front-yard cemeteries, coffin-shaped greenhouse, and coffin-shaped gazebo. The home is also the headquarters of Coffin It Up, Bryan’s custom coffin business. Besides making customized coffins starting at $1,000, Bryan also specializes in making coffin-shaped furniture, jewelry, purses, coolers, and anything else that can be made into a coffin.
Dusty says many clients order coffins for religious reasons or because they came here from another country. Bryan notes that America is the only place that really uses caskets, which are rectangular-shaped. Coffins, on the other hand, resemble a human being with six or eight sides.
Bryan and Dusty met at a Los Angeles protest over the use of circus elephants. One of their front-yard cemeteries is a pet cemetery with approximately 20 buried animals, including a headstone dedicated to Stoney, a Las Vegas performing elephant. The other cemetery honors the memories of the dead, including the ex-planet Pluto. No people are buried there, but fans and locals have donated headstones paying respect to their deceased loved ones.
Bryan and Dusty’s coffin-shaped gazebo isn’t just for decoration. They use it to perform weddings through their nondenominational church, the Church of the Coffin. Bryan became an ordained minister and now marries at least one couple a year. At first mistaken for a death cult, the Church of the Coffin serves to marry those of any faith.
So next time you pass through Pahrump, stop by and check out Coffinwood. Bryan and Dusty offer tours to anyone who calls or emails ahead of time. Even though they might be surrounded by the eerie and morbid, Dusty says it’s all about life for them. “Coffins are a reminder that that’s the end result. That’s where we are all going to end up, so you might as well appreciate everything you have right now.”
See Sandy Lopez, Pahrump Couple’s Coffinwood Part of Family Business, Review Journal, Nov. 13, 2013.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Hamid Harasani (King’s College London – School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Islamic Law of Wills: An Overview, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal, Vol. 9, No. 29 (Oct. 17, 2013).
This article provides a practitioner’s overview on the Islamic Law of Wills for those not trained in Islamic law.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Estate and trust plans have always been informed, in one way or another, by the values of benefactors. Lifetime gifts or bequests may be conditioned on certain achievements, such as children marrying and having children or grandchildren accomplishing certain benchmarks in life. Gifts to charities also speak to the priorities and values of those giving the gifts. But clients are increasingly more comfortable with the explicit recognition of religious or philosophical beliefs in their estate and trusts plans, trying to incorporate specific principles or values into the giving plans. This trend presents certain challenges for the planner, including the limits of what may be accomplished under law. This program will provide you with a practical guide to estate planning to incorporate certain religious and philosophical beliefs, including the limits of law and drafting traps.
- Practical process of incorporating the religious and philosophical beliefs of clients into their estate and trust plans
- Talking to clients about the opportunities and real-world limitations of what they can accomplish
- Legal and practical framework of what is enforceable under the law
- Anticipating challenges from beneficiaries and communicating with them to avoid dispute
- Common traps of drafting underlying trust and other documents
Thursday, September 5, 2013
In a series of events fit for a soap opera, Andrea Walker was recently victim to a psychic family’s scheme.
Walker and her millionaire husband had owned and operated the Hazlewood Castle in Yorkshire, which they had converted into a hotel. They sold the hotel after her husband decided to leave her. After later learning her estranged husband had six months to live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a distraught Walker visited a physic’s store in Manhattan.
Once physic Nancy Marks, known to Walker as “Kate Michaels,” learned Walker had about $2 million from the sale of her hotel, she labeled the money as “tainted.” She told Walker to give her “sacrifice payments” and follow a laundry list of instructions in order to prolong her husband’s life.
Even though Walker paid her over $100,000 in payments, her husband died six months after his diagnosis. That’s when Walker discovered he left her nothing in his will and gave a younger woman who had worked at the hotel permission to use his frozen sperm to father a child.
Walker wished to prevent the woman from conceiving through in vitro fertilization, so Nancy directed her to give more money to a psychic specializing in this area named “Joyce Michael,” who was really Nancy’s mother-in-law, Rose Marks.
Rose is now on trial in West Palm Beach for fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy.
See Paula McMahon, Widow Says Psychic Promised Help in Battle Over Late Husband’s Frozen Sperm, South Florida Sun Sentinel, Sept. 2, 2013.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Recently, the Catholic Church in Milwaukee moved $57 million into a trust to shield it against a judgment. In 2011, the Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy. The judge ordered that the transfer documents be released. Under state law, fraudulent transfers have a four-year statute of limitations or one year staute of limitations after discovery. There is a debate about whether or not the statute of limitations has expired on the 2007 transfer. If the transfer was made when the Milwaukee Archdiocese was insolvent it would be considered a fraudulent transfer without considering the Church’s intent for the transfer.
See Jay Adkisson, Bankrupt Milwaukee Archdioces Apparently Caught In Fraudulent Transfer, Forbes Jul. 7, 2013.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
As I have previously discussed, Robert McCorkell’s sister recently had a New Brunswick judge issue a temporary injunction on public policy grounds to prevent his estate, and valuable coin collection, from being sent out of province and into the hands of the neo-Nazi organization, the National Alliance.
While other groups like the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center have announced plans to take further action, an interesting question arises: Is the Canadian court adopting Nazi-like tactics to combat Nazism?
In the 1930s and 40s, the Nazis legalized, or at least facilitated, the theft of property from European Jews for the sole reason the property was owned by people the Nazis despised for their religious beliefs. Now, this New Brunswick court is considering authorizing the “theft” of property merely because it will be delivered to an organization despised for their ideology. So is the National Alliance sufficiently loathsome to justify the deprivation of property or is this slope just a little too slippery?
See Karen Selick, You Don’t Fight Nazis by Becoming a Nazi Yourself, The Huffington Post, July 29, 2013.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The Chinese government recently enacted a law aimed at compelling adult children to visit their elderly parents.
The “Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People” contains nine clauses laying out the duties of children to tend to the “spiritual needs of the elderly.” The listed duties include visiting parents at home “often,” occasionally sending them greetings, and a duty companies have to give employees enough time off for parental visits. The law stipulates no punishments for those who neglect their parents. However, on the day this law went into effect, a Wuxi court ordered a young couple to visit the wife’s elderly mother, who had sued the couple for neglect.
As a consequence of Chinese urbanization, the absence of children from the parents’ lives is a real issue, with many young people moving to the cities and leaving their parents behind in villages.
See Edward Wong, A Chinese Virtue Is Now the Law, The New York Times, July 2, 2013.