Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, May 8, 2017

Nebraska Supreme Court Finds Holographic Will Valid

Holographic willIn a recent case reaching the Nebraska Supreme Court, In re Estate of Dorothy Pluhacek, Margaret Hickey, the Provincial Superioress of the Omaha province of the Notre Dame Sisters, appealed the district court’s decision, denying formal probate of a document that Hickey alleged to be the valid will of Dorothy Pluhacek. The district court concluded that the will was not valid under Nebraska Revised Statute § 30-2327 because parts of the will were handwritten and not admissible under Nebraska Revised Statute § 30-2328 as a holographic will. Ultimately, the Nebraska Supreme Court concluded that the will was properly executed under § 30-2327, allowing for formal probate.

See Justice Miller-Lerman, M. Dorothy de North Dakota v. Estate of Pluhacek (In re Estate of Pluhacek), Case Text, April 27, 2017.

Special thanks to Jeffery Davis (Attorney, Smith Schafer Davis Gaertig LLC) for bringing this article to my attention.  

May 8, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Article on North Carolina's Living Probate Law

Living probateKyle Frizzelle recently published an Article entitled, Better to Play Dead? Examining North Carolina’s Living Probate Law and Its Potential Effect on Testamentary Disposition, 39 Campbell L. Rev. 187 (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

On August 11, 2015, North Carolina became the fifth state in the nation to permit a “living probate” proceeding. Like the laws of the four states before it, the new North Carolina law empowers a court to decide the validity of an individual's will while that individual is still alive. Generally, if the court determines the will is valid, that order is binding. In North Carolina, however, it may not be. In this state, an interested party may challenge a will after the testator has died, even though a court has already found the will valid based on evidence presented by the testator himself. This possibility should not exist. Allowing a post-mortem will contest in this situation destroys the desirability of living probate as an estate planning tool.

This Comment first offers a brief overview of living probate in North Carolina before analyzing benefits and concerns commonly associated with the proceeding. After establishing that the advantages of living probate make it a workable option for many individuals, discussion then turns to the effects of North Carolina's flawed provision. Because allowing a post-mortem will contest of an already validated will effectively renders living probate pointless, the North Carolina General Assembly should remove the provision entirely.

April 28, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

How a Will Can Carry Out Your Wishes

Hiddent trapIn recent years, a growing number of people are drafting wills and living wills, which name agents to handle their medical care decisions if they become incapacitated. Perhaps, the deaths of entertainers like George Michael and Prince who died without wills has really hit home for the generation that grew up idolizing these superstars. Starting the estate planning process is usually more life-experience driven, but many people do not realize that an unexpected accident can occur at any time, and without a plan, these effects can be devastating to your loved ones. When starting the estate planning process, you should get familiar with your local laws because estate and probate rules vary from state to state. Always keep your wills updated to your current circumstances, which includes crosschecking the beneficiaries on your investment accounts. Most importantly, you should discuss these estate plans with those that matter so that your wishes are carried out with ease.

See Janet Morrissey, Wills Can Avert Family Welfare, but Have Their Own Hidden Traps, N.Y. Times, April 21, 2017.

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

April 27, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Estate Planning Lessons from John B.

John b“S-Town” is the successor podcast to the famous “Serial” podcast. The podcast depicts the anti-hero, John B., who lives in a house on 128 acres in Woodstock, Alabama with his mother who suffers from dementia. Most residents of Woodstock thought John B. was a wealthy man, but upon committing suicide, he dies without a will and without a plan for someone to take care of his mother. However, John B. did leave instructions with a friend about what to do and who to contact after his death. His story represents several estate planning lessons. You should always choose a will over a set of instructions, but leaving both is not a bad idea. Without a will, your assets will pass to those heirs designated by the estate, and your loved ones will be cared for by a relative willing to serve as guardian, both scenarios may not represent your true wishes.

See Jay Brinker, Don’t Be Like John B. (Estate Planning Lessons from “S-Town”), Jay Brinker Blog, April 21, 2017.

April 26, 2017 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Estate Planning Will Not Become a Thing of the Past

Estate financial planThe estate tax repeal seems inevitable at this point. Accordingly, many people have been wondering whether traditional estate planning will be a thing of the past. The answer? No, estate planning will continue to be an essential part of clients’ financial future. The timing of an estate tax repeal remains uncertain, which could potentially force an excise in planning. The estate planning process should also consider an increase in capital gains taxes to substitute the repeal of the estate tax. Although a repeal may be coming, trusts and other tax efficient ways to distribute wealth are still relevant to estate planning. Overall, the potential estate tax repeal should not diminish the importance of comprehensive estate planning.

See Michael J. Nathanson, Ian D. Barclay & Cary P. Geller, Estate Planning: It’s Not Over, Financial Advisor, April 3, 2017.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) & Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law)  for bringing this article to my attention.

April 26, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Details of David Rockefeller's Will Revealed

RockefellerDavid Rockefeller Sr., the last surviving descendent of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, died last month at the age of 101, making him the oldest billionaire at the time of his death. Rockefeller’s will details all issues for his estate from his plans for his Maine island, to his art collection, to charitable gifts. A large part of Rockefeller’s estate was divided up amongst his five surviving children, while the assets that he personally controlled are being sold off to benefit charities. Upon liquidation of his assets, Rockefeller’s estate will likely donate approximately $700 million to various charities and use a leftover $250 million to finance the launch of the David Rockefeller Global Development Fund. Further, the will dictates that his children have first priority to purchase certain owned properties at fair market value, with any leftover properties being donated to historic preservation trusts, land preserves, or charities. Rockefeller also owned approximately 15,000 artworks. The bulk of this collection will go to the Museum of Modern Art.

See Michela Tindera, Inside Late Billionaire David Rockefeller’s Will: Picassos, a Beetle Collection and a Maine Island, Forbes, April 20, 2017.

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

April 25, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Book on Statutes on Trusts & Estates

Selected statuteMark L. Ascher & Grayson M.P. McCouch recently published a book entitled, Selected Statutes on Trusts and Estates (2017). Provided below is a summary of the book:

This casebook statutory supplement meets the needs of students in basic and advanced courses on wills, trusts, decedents' estates, fiduciary administration, and future interests, providing a compendium of essential uniform act provisions and official comments. It covers a wide range of topics, including intestacy, wills, rules of construction, probate administration, nonprobate transfers, disclaimers, principal and income, prudent investments, perpetuities, trust formation and modification, spendthrift and discretionary trusts, trustee powers and duties, powers of appointment, and powers of attorney. The previous edition has been updated to include amendments to the Uniform Probate Code, the Uniform Custodial Trust Act, and the Uniform Power of Attorney Act.

April 17, 2017 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Joe Jackson Is Now an Ally of the Michael Jackson Estate

Joe jacksonMichael Jackson’s father is now an ally to his son’s estate after once being its archenemy, claiming that the estate was robbing members of his family. Remembering back, Michael cut his father out of his will along with his brothers and sisters, igniting a legal battle in which his father claimed the will was fraudulent. However, some recent events have changed Joe’s tune—the estate paid his medical bills in 2015 after he had a stroke, the Michael Jackson documentary produced by the estate portrayed him in a favorable light, and he came to believe that the estate was taking excellent care of Katherine and Michael’s three children.

See Joe Jackson Now Solidly Behind MJ Estate, TMZ, April 10, 2017.

April 17, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jimmy Breslin Leaves Entire Estate to His Wife

BreslinLate Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin left his entire estate to his wife, with his intellectual property totaling $99,000 in copyrights. Specifically, recent court documents reveal that Breslin left all of his intellectual property to the Jimmy Breslin Literary Trust, and his will indicated that the entirety of the trust’s income is to be paid to his wife. When his wife passes away, 70% of the trust’s income will go to his four children, and the remaining 30% will go to his six grandchildren.

See Victoria Bekiempis, Late Daily News Columnist Jimmy Breslin Left Entire Estate to His Second Wife, Daily News, April 10, 2017.

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

April 12, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How to Prevent Family Feuds in Estate Planning

Family feudsIn the news, we often are witness to frequent celebrity estate battles, but we are rarely aware of such feuds amongst typical American families. As complex family structures become more common, estate planners will need to ensure appropriate measures that will help prevent conflicts among family members. Oftentimes, it will be important to the preservation of the family to memorialize estate intentions and communicate those intentions to the heirs. Another key to creating less animosity amongst family members is to select the right fiduciary to administer the estate and effectively communicate the wishes. And as always, clients must be reminded to periodically review and update their estate planning documents, especially upon significant life events.

See Anna Sulkin, How to Prevent Feuds Among Heirs, Wealth Management, April 10, 2017.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 11, 2017 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)