Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

Texas Appeals Court Rules That Offering An Invalid Will Can Be Basis For Criminal Charges

HanduffsA battle of over the estate of a wealthy socialite captivated Dallas for a number of years as two antique dealers sought to have a will probated that left them a multi-million dollar house but was signed eight days before the death of the testator. After a court found the will invalid, criminal charges were brought and resulted in the dealers being convicted for attempted theft of property. However, the dealers challenged the conviction arguing that the attempted probate of an invalid will is not a criminal act. But the Dallas Court of Appeals held that the criminal charge only required a showing of intent to steal from those that have a legal right to the inheritance. A good faith will contest will not lead to criminal charges and it was the specific facts of this case which supported the prosecution. Now, it will be a matter of time to see if this ruling will lead to more prosecutions of those that try to probate a will in bad faith.

See J. Michael Young, When offering a will can lead to criminal charges, Texas Probate Litigation, November 19, 2015.

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

November 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Review Of The Good Wife From The Perspective Of An Estate Planner

ArticleMy fellow blogger Jeffrey R. Gottlieb at the Illinois Estate Planning Blog has posted a review of the season premier of the CBS drama The Good Wife and its relationship to real world probate issues. The article can be found here and it an excellent read no matter if you are a fan of the show or not. One little warning though, if you are not caught up on the new season there are spoilers aplenty so make sure you get caught up before reading this great article.

October 28, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bay Area Wills, Trusts, And Probate Blog Is Back Online!

KeyboardThe Bay Area Wills, Trusts, and Probate Blog written by Karen Meckstroth is back online! The first post is about the California End of Life Option Act which was recently passed and allows physician assisted suicide in certain circumstances. I would like everyone to join me in welcoming back Karen with her superlative blog by checking out her new post!

October 19, 2015 in New Legislation, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 31, 2015

In Canada, Bequests In A Will May Be Voided If Against Public Policy

CanadaWhen Harry Robert McCorkill died, he left a bequest in his will to an organization that was devoted to the cause of white supremacy. As a result, his sister challenged the gift by invoking the Canadian rule that gifts in a will that are against public policy may be voided. In McCorkill v. Streed, the court held that the gift was against public policy and voided the gift. The court stated that "against public policy" was to be construed as embodying the morals of the time and may be read as prohibiting gifts against the interest of society. Based on the prevailing anti-discrimination attitude, embodied in Canadian law and constitution, the gift was void because it provided funds to an organization whose sole aim was discriminatory.

See Stan Rule, Gifts Void Against Public Policy: McCorkill Estate, Rule of Law Blog, August 23, 2015.

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

August 31, 2015 in New Cases, Weblogs, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Newest Amendments To The Florida Probate And Trust Code

Florida_signThe 2015 amendments by the Florida legislature to the Trust and Probate Code are now available. The changes include rules on reasonable charges for attorneys fees and cost to an estates or trust, a lawyers fiduciary duties while serving as a trustee, personal service on entities assigned to administer an estate, and what notice of administration must be filed. If you work in anyway with Florida wills and trust then this article is a must read.

See Brian Spiro, 2015 Amendments to Florida Probate Code and Florida Trust Code, Clark & Skatoff, May 19, 2015.

May 21, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Trusts, Weblogs, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Smart Planning Includes Choosing Potential Guardians For Children

ChildrenNo parent wants to think about dying and leaving their minor or incapacitated children without a guardian. However, smart planning will always look at this unhappy but potential problem and make sure that the wishes of the parents will dictate who takes care of their children rather than an unfamiliar judge. One tip included in the article is to make sure that you have a redundant list that provides more than one set of names in the event the intended guardians are unwilling or unable to take care of the children. It is also prudent practice to check with the potential guardians to make sure they are willing to take on the responsibility.

See Kyle Krull, Picking Back-Up Parents for Your Minor Children, KyleKrull.com, May 5, 2015.

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

May 12, 2015 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"Taxing Lessons" Website Offers Useful Tax Information in a "Fun" Format

Taxing LessonsLorri Carpenter, a CPA licensed in Florida, is the author of Taxing Lessons where she condenses selected US Tax Court cases into interesting, informative summaries.

According to her website:

You read a synopsis of the facts, review the provided tax code citations–then answer the question: What would you decide? Comparing your answer to the court decision gives you the opportunity to update and enhance your knowledge. Who knew Taxing Lessons could be so much fun? You be the judge. Taxing Lessons presents US tax court cases in a format that puts you behind the bench.

March 19, 2014 in Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Noel C. Ice's "Trusts & Estates" Website Updated

Ice, NoelThe extremely valuable website of Texas attorney Noel C. Ice (partner in the Fort Worth office of Cantey Hanger LLP), Trusts & Estates, has recently received a complete "make over."

You will find the same awesome material -- over 60 CLE articles and dozens of other resources -- but they are now easier to find and otherwise more accessible than previously.  Here is a direct link to a listing of his materials.

In keeping with his prior approach, Noel continues to make all of his writings available at no charge, where they can be viewed on screen, or downloaded as .pdf files that may be read and searched later.


March 18, 2014 in Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Chicago Estate Planning Blog Now On-Line

Booth, MichaelChicago attorney, Michael Booth, has recently started the Chicago Estate Planning Blog. He writes about current (and sometimes out of the ordinary) estate planning items in the news, and does his best to inject humor (at least as much humor as can be found in death and taxes) while educating his readers on how Illinois law would apply in various situations.  For example, one of his recent innovative postings is entitled  Estate Planning For Embarrassing Personal Property.

I recommend that you check out this well-written and innovative blog.

March 17, 2014 in Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Consider Your Own Estate Planning Practice


Now that it seems BigLaw firms have cut their estate planning practices, solo and small firms are picking up the slack.  With the demand for estate planning services rising now that baby boomer retirement is cresting, here are a few steps you should take if you’re thinking of starting or expanding an estate planning practice.

First, get educated.  Instead of relying on your bar exam outline, educate yourself by buying practice guides or finding some at your local library.  You can also learn a lot, and knock out those CLE requirements, by attending the various all-day seminars promising to teach you everything you need to know.  Once you get the basics down, remember to continue educating yourself.  One way is to maintain a blog, which will allow you to research new practice issues on a continuous basis.

Next, consider online marketing by setting up your own website and blog or hiring a website to handle this task for you.  Also, realize the importance of word-of-mouth marketing in the estate planning field as referrals will likely make up the majority of your clients.  And speaking of referrals, try to network with good financial planners, CPAs, or life insurance salespersons, because referring them clients may result in future reciprocity. 

See William Peacock, Esq., Estate Planning: The Next ‘Growth’ Practice Area for Small Firms?, FindLaw, July 17, 2013.

July 29, 2013 in Estate Planning - Generally, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)