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.
Friday, May 31, 2013
As I have previously discussed, Gandhi’s “last” will and testament, handwritten and signed in 1921, was recently auctioned off in England. But experts say Gandhi made up to four wills, the final one being handwritten and signed in 1940.
The original 1940 will entrusted to the Navajivan Trust can not be located, but a true copy of the typed text is available in the Trust’s records. A trustee of the Navajivan Trust said the original may have been left at the courthouse when probated or it may be lost in the Trust’s vast records.
Gandhi named his personal secretary, Mahadev Desai, and a Navajivan trustee as executors of his two-page will.
See Jumana Shah, Where’s Mahatma Gandhi’s Final Will?, DNA India, May 26, 2013.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Over 50 items of Mahatma Gandhi memorabilia were recently sold by Mullock’s, a British auction house in Ludlow, Shropshire.
Among the most valuable items sold were Gandhi’s last will and testament and the size eight sandals he wore in the 1920s. Other items sold include a shawl hand-woven by Gandhi, a British Parliament paper declaring him a terrorist, his rice bowl, his bed linen, his prayer beads, and three carved wise monkeys. A Gandhi blood sample failed to sell, because it did not meet the 10,000-pound reserve price.
In 1924, Gandhi gave many of these items to a close friend whose family kept them until deciding to sell. In response to numerous Gandhi auctions over the past decade, the Indian government continues to claim it should have the right of first refusal on these national treasures.
See Leon Watson, Mahatma Gandhi’s Last Will and Testament and the Iconic Sandals He Wore in the 1920s Sell at Auction, Daily Mail, May 21, 2013.