Thursday, March 6, 2014
Following their mother’s death, five sons discovered they did not know the Apple ID and password to her iPad.
Apple first asked them to provide written consent for the device to be unlocked, which was of course impossible. Apple then asked for proof they could have the iPad. Despite providing Apple with a copy of their mother’s death certificate, a solicitor’s letter, and copy of their mother’s will indicating she wanted her estate split between her five boys, Apple is still asking for a court order to prove their mother was the owner of the iPad as well as her iTunes account. Hiring a solicitor to go about getting a court order would of course cost more than the iPad itself. Says son Josh Grant, “It’s a bit cold of them not to treat things on a case-by-case basis.”
See Natalie Donovan & Kevin Core, Apple Security Rules Leave Inherited iPad Useless, Say Sons, BBC, March 5, 2014.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
As I have previously discussed, the three adult children of late celebrity photographer Bert Stern, who is famous for snapping provocative photos of Marilyn Monroe, are currently locked in an estate battle with his young widow over his $10 million fortune.
The kids are now trying to introduce Stern’s psychiatry records to shed light on the 83-year-old Stern’s mysterious secret marriage to the 44-year-old Shannah Laumeister. Laumeister claims the records could damage Stern’s reputation and the value of his estate.
See Josh Saul, Fight Over Marilyn Monroe Photog’s Estate Takes Ugly Turn, New York Post, March 4, 2014.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Kent Adonai, Lord Glenconner’s valet and carer for 30 years, inherited Glenconner’s £30 million fortune instead of 20-year-old grandson Cody Tennant.
Tennant, who became the fourth Baron Glenconner, was set to inherit the family estate until Lord Glenconner rewrote his will seven months before his death in 2010 at the age of 83. Glenconner’s widow, Lady Anne, was also shocked to learn she had been left out of the will.
Adonai inherited Lord Glenconner’s Indian-style mansion, art, jewelry, and 192 acres of shorefront development land. As part of a settlement, Adonai has agreed to share the sought-after Caribbean property with Tennant, which could potentially make him a multi-millionaire. Although the grounds of the will contest were not revealed, ambiguous language in the will, or the fact that Glenconner had been battling cancer, may have led Adonai to settle.
See Sharon Churcher & Colin Maximin, Manservant Who Was Left £30m by Lord Glenconner WILL Share It with Peer’s Grandson, Daily Mail, March 1, 2014.
As I have previously discussed, five years after the brutal murder of Ben Novack Jr., heir of the Fontainebleau hotel and president of a lucrative convention planning company, the legal battles over his estate continue. Novack’s wife Narcy was convicted and is serving life in prison for arranging the murder-for-hire of Novack. Narcy lost her claim to Novack’s estate under Florida’s slayer statute. According to Novack’s will, May Abad, his stepdaughter and Narcy’s daughter, will receive $150,000 and the remaining estate will go into trusts for Abad’s sons. However the estate is dwindling as time proceeds and the original estimate of $10 million is now reduced to less than $4 million.
The will has not been successfully challenged, but relatives continue to challenge the will arguing that the slayer statute should also disqualify Abad and her sons from inheriting, because some of the funds could reach Narcy to aid her legal claims. Judge Charles Greene recently placed $50,000 in a trust for one of Abad’s sons, to be used for a life saving heart surgery. The attorney who drafted Novack’s will expressed that Novack would have wanted his grandsons to inherit the bulk of his estate if his wife did not, because he was fond of them and their mother.
See Julia K. Brown, As Family Fight Continues, Ben Novack Jr. Fortunes Shrink, Miami Herald, Feb. 25, 2014.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Family Archival Solutions, Inc. is offering a new service called The National Will Registry, a service that stores the location of end-of-life documents as well as other important information like attorney names and safe deposit box locations.
The National Will Registry allows subscribers to authorize several family members, friends, or legal advisers to contact the service if the family is unable to locate wills, trusts, living wills, or powers of attorney. Enrollment in this service is free of charge. Subscribers can also upgrade to several different levels of protection.
See The National Will Registry Announces New Service to Help Families and Professionals Register and Locate Important Estate Planning Documents, Hispanic Business, Feb. 26, 2014.
Texas Bar CLE is sponsoring a CLE entitled, 20th Annual Advanced Estate Planning Strategies Course, on April 24-25, 2014, in Denver. Provided below is a description of the event:
Panel discussions will detail:
- Recipes for Income and Estate Tax Planning in 2014
- Stop the Bus, I Want to Get Off! Business Succession Planning in 2014
- It Slices; It Dices; It Makes Julienne Fries: Cutting-Edge Trust Tools
- It's Too Late to Say You're Sorry - A Selection of Litigation Topics
The discussions will be highly interactive between the audience and the panelists. Speakers will address estate planning situations and will answer the questions that have been perplexing you the most. This is a rare opportunity for you to consult with the experts and your peers. The course will not be recorded for future video replay, so you must attend to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to hear some of the state's and the nation's leading estate planning and probate lawyers discuss their practices, what they do and don't do, the opportunities and issues they deal with, and the most up-to-date strategies!
Friday, February 28, 2014
Research shows that 70 to 80% of elders do not have advance directives giving instructions about end-of-life care. Here are six documents everyone should have in place:
- Medical power of attorney. This document allows you to appoint an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so.
- Living will. This document details which medical treatments you do and do not want undertaken if you become incapacitated.
- HIPAA form. This document gives people access to your private medical records.
- Financial power of attorney. This document, which goes into effect immediately after it is signed, gives someone the right to access all or a portion of your finances.
- Letter of instruction. Give your loved ones information about how to conduct your funeral services, whom to contact after you die, and whether you want to be buried or cremated.
- Last will and testament. Name your executor, appoint a guardian for your children, and determine who will receive your real estate, personalty, savings, investments, and digital assets.
See Kimberly Leonard, 6 Decisions to Make Before You Die, U.S. News, Feb. 26, 2013.
An ethical will is a way for a person to share the principles, values, and guidelines that went into creating their wealth. Although not legally binding, an ethical will gives a person the opportunity to convey a heartfelt expression of what truly mattered most in their life.
See the article below for a sample ethical will as well as some writing prompts that can help client’s organize their priorities and values.
See John Kador, The Rep’s Guide to Ethical Wills, Wealth Management, Feb. 25, 2014.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
While an effectively crafted will can provide peace of mind, a poorly executed will can have disastrous consequences. Here are some common mistakes you should avoid:
- Unclear Wording. Vague language can result in family strife and court intervention. Be especially careful when using do-it-yourself templates to write a will.
- No Updates. Major changes in your life may call for major changes in your will. Review your will after a marriage, divorce, birth, death, major change in income, or change in estate tax laws. Be sure to also review related documents, such as beneficiary designations. And be sure to destroy copies of old versions of your will.
- Lost Wills. Probating a photocopy of a will is very hard to do, because the court must be convinced the original is missing due to some inadvertence and not because the deceased revoked the will by destroying it. Be sure to keep your original will in a secure place and let your family know where it is.
See Sonya Stinson, Wills Gone Wrong: Mistakes That Can Thwart Your Last Wishes, Forbes, Feb. 20, 2014.
Three months after celebrity actor Paul Walker died in a car crash, his will is finally being settled. A Santa Barbara judge just approved Paul Walker's father as the executor of his estate as Walker stated in his will. While Walker's executor has been appointed, questions remain about who will take care of daughter, Meadow. A decision has not been made on Meadow's guardianship. Currently, she is living with her grandmother. Reports indicate that both Meadow and her mother are OK with the set-up because Meadow wants to stay in California.
See, Ashley Collman, Paul Walker's Dying Wish Fulfilled As Dad Is Named Executor Of His Estate-But Still No Word On Who Will Raise Daughter Meadow, Mail Online, Feb. 20, 2014.