Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Charles Manson's Pen Pal, Grandson Battle For His Body

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-11-30/da1dd49c-8a09-4a9d-b19a-312fbaed4bd8.pngJason Freeman, who claims to be Charles Manson’s grandson, and longtime pen pal Michael Channels are both in the process of attempting to claim Manson’s body. Channels’s wishes may take precedent over Freeman’s, as Channels actually has Manson’s original will. As of now, Channels has informed the Sheriff that he is the executor of Manson’s estate and has already filed the will in probate court.

See Charles Manson's Pen Pal, Grandson Battle For His Body, TMZ, November 29, 2017.

November 30, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Article on Testamentary Freedom Reaffirmed in the Supreme Court

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-11-28/16220dc7-d1bc-4034-b314-a32c2eb280ce.pngBrian Sloan recently posted an Article entitled, Testamentary Freedom Reaffirmed in the Supreme Court, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The case now known as Ilott v The Blue Cross [2017] UKSC 17 was the first time that the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 was considered at the highest judicial level. The Court of Appeal ([2015] EWCA Civ 797, noted [2016] C.L.J. 31) had significantly enhanced the award given to an estranged and “disinherited” but needy daughter (Heather Ilott) at the expense of the charities (the Blue Cross, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) who were the principal beneficiaries under her mother (Melita Jackson)’s will, leaving her with £143,000 out of the £486,000 estate primarily to purchase the council house in which she and her family were living. The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the charities’ appeal, restoring Judge Million’s original £50,000 order. Giving the lead judgment, Lord Hughes reasserted the centrality of testamentary freedom in English Law, emphasised the importance of the Act’s limitation to “reasonable financial provision” for maintenance for non-spouse/civil partner applicants (s. 1(2)(b)), and held that a need for maintenance was a necessary but not sufficient condition for a successful claim. He approved previous case law in holding that maintenance could not “extend to any or everything which it would be desirable for the claimant to have”, but was not limited to “subsistence” either. He also confirmed that the focus of the correct test under the 1975 Act is not on the behaviour of the testatrix, but opined the reasonableness of her decision may still be a significant consideration, as may the extent of any “moral claim” even if that is not a “sine qua non”.

November 28, 2017 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Battle Erupts over Control of Charles Manson Estate

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-11-28/3d89f75c-5e06-44a0-b9c9-2b5ab8ea84ac.pngThere are now two individuals claiming a right to Charles Manson’s estate. A few days ago, TMZ reported that Manson’s pen pal, who preferred to remain anonymous, was in possession of a handwritten and typed will that named him the sole beneficiary to all of Manson’s worldly possessions. Contrary to the TMZ story, the New York Daily News recently reported that Ben Gureki, one of Manson’s friends, delivered a will to Matthew Roberts naming Roberts the sole beneficiary of Manson’s estate. Roberts’s mother told him in 1998 that Manson was his father. Gureki claimed that he and Roberts are going to take care of the situation:  “Matthew and I will be there next week in person. Charlie will be given a headstone, a proper burial where people will be able to grieve, or deface it as they see fit.”

See Kathleen Joyce, Battle Erupts over Control of Charles Manson Estate, Fox News, November 25, 2017.

November 28, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Charles Manson Will Surfaces: Pen Pal Gets Everything

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-11-25/b5974ed6-cc27-4d84-8068-ab56b3d8ed23.pngCharles Manson left the whole of his estate to a pen pal who started writing to Manson in the ‘90s. The individual, who prefers to remain anonymous, wrote over fifty letters to the cult leader before Manson finally replied in 1997. The pair struck up a friendship and the pen pal eventually visited Manson in prison for the first time in 2002. This was the year that Manson penned his will leaving everything, including cash, image rights, and clothing, to the pen pal.

See Charles Manson Will Surfaces: Pen Pal Gets Everything, TMZ, November 24, 2017.

See Chris SpargoCharles Manson Will: Infamous Cult Leader Leaves Entire Estate and Rights To His Likeness To a Pen Pal While Disinheriting His Family and Friends, DailyMail.com, November 24, 2017.

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

 

November 27, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 24, 2017

The American Greed Report: How to Control Your Money, Even After You Die

Sm674090D6-E413-7E24-7862B29C47DEDE68Stanley Smith made his fortune by selling iron ore in post-World War II Japan. Before he passed away in 1968, he was very careful to make sure his vast wealth passed according to his wishes. He left three-quarters of his estate to a charitable foundation benefiting the homeless, veterans, and people with disabilities. The remaining one-quarter of the estate, totaling $100 million, went into a trust for the benefit of his wife, May Wong Smith. The trust was to be managed by three trustees. Unfortunately, one of the trustees, Mark Avery, decided to use trust assets to build a personal army equipped with helicopters, patrol boats, and vintage Soviet and U.S. fighter planes. In all, Avery stole in excess $50 million over a period of six months. Diane Dimond, an investigative journalist, cautions that trusts are rarely ironclad and may have loopholes. These issues are why she recommends appointing only trustees that have earned your complete trust.

See Scott Cohn, The American Greed Report: How to Control Your Money, Even After You Die, CNBC, September 2, 2107.

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

November 24, 2017 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Court: Kids of Divorced Stepparent Must Pay Inheritance Tax

285px-StepByStepOpeningPaula Tyler and Mark Alcorn were raised by their mother, Connie Smith, and stepfather, Donald Hitzhusen. The couple later divorced, but Hitzhusen remained close to Tyler and Alcorn. Close enough, in fact, that he left them 77% of his $1.9 million estate. Because the distribution occurred in Iowa, Tyler and Alcorn were subject to a $200,000 inheritance tax. The pair challenged the validity of the tax, claiming that they were essentially being punished for the divorce of their parents. The court did not buy the argument and held that the Iowa Legislature’s goal to promote family cohesion was legitimate.

See David Pitt, Court: Kids of Divorced Stepparent Must Pay Inheritance Tax, Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2017.

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

November 19, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Glenn Frey Eagles Legend Left Everything to Wife

1115-glenn-frey-getty-3Glenn Frey, former guitarist for the Eagles, died with a will that leaves everything to his wife of twenty-five years, Cindy Millican. The will only lists assets totaling $100,000, but makes reference to a family trust. It is likely the legendary musician left the bulk of his estate in the trust. There is a minor hitch, as Millican claims she only has a copy of the original will. This should not be too much of an issue unless the will is contested.

See Glenn Frey Eagles Legend Left Everything to Wife, TMZ, November 15, 2017.

Special thanks to Molly Neace for bringing this article to my attention.

November 18, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Estate Planning Is Not Just for the Ultra-Rich Anymore

Wealthyfamilyjetmi600-resize-600x338Scenes from television and movies portray the distribution of estates as a stuffy, formal affair reserved to the most affluent sectors of society. This misconception can be terribly detrimental, as many decedents who die intestate leave their families to squabble over their assets. This scenario, though unfortunate, is a strikingly common occurrence. Many pass away believing that their assets will be inherited by their spouse or children. Depending on the state in which they die, this may not always be the case. In some jurisdictions, assets may pass to siblings who were never intended to be beneficiaries of the estate. Regardless of wealth, it is important to at least draft a will, possibly a trust, and assign someone power of attorney in case of incapacity.

See Ernie Burns, Estate Planning Is Not Just for the Ultra-Rich Anymore, Financial Advisor, August 3, 2017.

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

November 16, 2017 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Duke of Windor’s Will to Be Unsealed at Last, but Only So The Crown’s Writers Can Get Their Facts Straight

Db6b38f8d678d789bb49ceeaea687773The Duke of Windsor, once called King Edward VIII, abdicated his throne in 1936 to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. His voluntary relinquishment of the throne, a singular instance in British history, sent shockwaves through the island nation. The Duke passed away in 1972 with a will. Sir George Baker, then-President of the Family Division of the High Court, ordered the will sealed. Sir James Munby, the current President of the Family Division of the High Court, ordered the will’s seal broken in order to provide a member of the Queen’s archivists a copy of the will. This shift in precedent is borne of a need to identify the beneficiary to the Duke’s copyrights. Writers of The Crown, a biographical drama series, want to use the Duke’s letters in their program and need to identify the current holder of the copyrighted materials to do so.

See Fiona Parker, Duke of Windor’s Will to Be Unsealed at Last, but Only So The Crown’s Writers Can Get Their Facts Straight, DailyMail.com, November 15, 2017.

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

November 16, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Television, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Estate Plans Don’t Have to Be Just for People

Look-at-this-adorable-dog-who-looks-like-a-bear-2-24445-1499701791-0_dblbigThe death of a loved one entails more than just emotional and psychological trauma. Many times, travel arrangements, funeral and burial expenses, receptions, etc. demand additional attention. With so many requisite issues needing to be addressed, the family pet and its ultimate destination can get lost in the flurry of activity. In order to make sure their beloved pet is taken care of after their death, many pet owners create formal estate plans. When considering such a plan, pet owners should name a caregiver, set aside a reasonable amount of money, outline a care plan, and create formalized agreements.

See Cheryl Winokur Munk, Estate Plans Don’t Have to Be Just for People, The Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2017.

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

November 14, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)