Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Ongoing Sumner Redstone Trial

Sumner redstoneI have previously discussed the ongoing trial over the competency of media mogul Sumner Redstone.  This article goes into some detail describing the background of this current case.  This legal battle is captivating people in both Hollywood and Wall Street because of the importance of Viacom to both the entertainment and business communities.  Viacom is a massive media company that owns networks like CBS, Comedy Central, and MTV.  Mr. Redstone has been having health problems lately and the future of Viacom could be tremendously impacted by what happens in the future.  The court proceedings in this case are ongoing and there will likely be more developments to come.  This blog has been continuously reporting on this case, and this article will provide the reader with an extensive amount of background information.

See Emily Steel, Sumner Redstone Trial Captivates Hollywood and Wall Street, The New York Times, May 5, 2016.

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

May 6, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Managing Pop Culture Estates

CobainThis article discusses the business of managing the estates of pop culture icons.  “Few people understand that better than Jeffrey Jampol, an LA-based specialist whose JAM Inc manages the rock estates of Otis Redding, Kurt Cobain, the Doors, Rick James, Ramones and Muddy Waters among others, as well as advising the co-executors of Michael Jackson’s estate.”  There is a lot of difficult work that goes into the process of trying to prevent or reduce the type of legal chaos that often unfolds in the probate process after a wealthy celebrity passes away.  Oftentimes the estates of famous celebrities keep earning income long after they pass away from things like trademarks, royalties, and brands.  The rock legacy business that is described in this article is only going to continue to grow in the future. 

See Edward Helmore, ‘This is the pop culture legacy business’: JAM Inc manages artists after death, The Guardian, May 6, 2016.

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

May 6, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legendary Rapper Weighs In On Wills

The Death of Alexander The GreatThe death of Prince was, to the world as well as his friends and family, nothing short of a shock. But even more shocking to many was the fact that the rock legend, who was notorious for his careful involvement in his business ventures, died without any estate planning at all. But one person was not shocked. Legendary rapper Snoop Dog was recently asked about the intestate death of his music counterpart and what Snoop's post death plans might be. Simply put, he does not care in the slightest bit who gets his money after he dies. He then plainly spoke of his desire to be reborn as a butterfly just so he can fly around his funeral and watch all his would be heirs fight among themselves. While his honesty is refreshing, it is not exactly a strategy that most others will want to follow. Although if you are fond of a "to the strongest" method of determining heirship then this style of estate anarchy might be for you. In any case, at least the world now has two great examples to follow when it comes to capricious post-death planning.

See Jacob Shamsian, Snoop Dogg told us why he doesn't have a will: 'I don't give a f--- when I'm dead', San Francisco Gate, May 5, 2016.

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

May 6, 2016 in Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Estate Planning Issues Entertainers Face

Prince2Prince’s passing has cause a massive amount of media speculation about the division of his estate.  A will has not been found yet and it is becoming increasingly likely that the music legend died intestate.  His estate is probably going to have to be divided up under Minnesota intestacy laws.  High profile entertainers like Prince face unique estate planning issues.  The Prince estate will likely go through an ongoing process of battles in probate court and the media is going to widely report on it.  “Implementing estate plans which use revocable (and irrevocable) trusts can help maintain privacy because upon death their terms rarely become public record.”  It is important for everyone, but especially high profile celebrities, to seek out the expertise of a competent estate planning professional for personalized estate planning assistance. 

See Rob Hazard, Estate Planning Issues For Entertainers, Estate Of Mind, May 4, 2016.

May 5, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Changes In Estate Planning Laws Provide Reason For Updating Estate Plan

New legislationMany people are revising and updating their estate plan because of recent changes to estate planning and tax laws.  Another reason for updating estate plans is the increase in the average life expectancy thanks to developments in modern health care.  This article discusses some of the recent changes in the law and why it is important for people to update their estate plans.  People need to update their planning if they are going to be impacted by estate and gift taxes.  Those who have trusts will also need to review their estate plans.  “Another very important development in estate planning is the use of proper beneficiary designations for qualified plans and IRA interests.”  There are many parents who have reason to be concerned about the property that they plan to leave to beneficiaries being subject to creditor or spousal claims, and they will want to take proactive estate planning measures. 

See Dickinson Wright PLLC, Recent Changes in Estate Planning Laws May be Cause for Review of Your Estate Plan, Lexology, May 4, 2016.

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

May 5, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Intestate Succession, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Book On Wills And Estate Administration

ArticleWills and Estate Administration by Kenneth Vercammen has been published by American Bar Association Publishing and is available in print and as an ebook. Provided below is a description of the book:

Straightforward and to-the-point, Wills and Estate Administration provides step-by-step guidance that firms can use to handle all aspects of an estates practice, from initial client intake to closing the file. Topics are defined in six parts for ease of use:

  • Preparation for Wills/Estate Planning Interviews
  • Interviewing Clients
  • Additional Estate Planning Issues
  • Estate Administration
  • Guardianship of Disabled or Incompetent Parents
  • Marketing Your Wills and Estate Administration Practice

May 5, 2016 in Books, Estate Administration, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Report Shows That A Majority Of Americans Do Not Have A Will

Last willThe recent news that Prince did not have a will has brought a lot of attention to the issue of people dying intestate.  This article discusses a survey that shows what happened to Prince is not all that uncommon, and that a majority of Americans pass away intestate.  That survey, conducted by Rocket Lawyer, revealed 60% of those without a will indicated that they simply haven't gotten around to making one yet, and over one-fourth (27%) don't feel that it's urgent.”  One of the main reasons why people often put off drafting a will is because people don’t like to plan for their own death.  It is important for people to discuss these issues because not having a will can lead to many consequences.

See Ben Russell, Majority of Americans Don’t Have A Will: Survey, NBC, May 4, 2016.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 4, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Harvard Law Professor Robert Sitkoff Gives Lecture On Estate Planning

Business_expenseHarvard Law Professor Robert Sitkoff made his contribution to the Last Lecture series with his March 29 lecture titled ‘Hope for the best; plan for the worst.’  This article provides a video of the lecture delivered by Mr. Sitkoff, who is an expert in trusts and estates.  “The Last Lecture Series, which is organized by the Class Marshals, asks popular HLS professors to give lectures addressing the graduating class.”  The main goal of the lecture was to discuss private law and to distinguish it from public law.  He discusses ways that the private law practice can be improved and how lawyers need to address their client’s concerns.  Another thing that he discusses is how law schools can work to improve the legal education that is provided to students to help get them more prepared for private practice.

See Raishay Lin, A trust and estates lawyer’s ‘last lecture’: ‘Hope for the best; plan for the worst’, Harvard Law Today, April 27, 2016.

May 3, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Special Administrator Appointed On Prince’s Estate

PrinceBremer Trust was appointed by District Judge Kevin Eide to oversee the Prince estate, and none of the apparent heirs objected to the appointment.  “One by one, five of Prince’s six surviving siblings entered a Carver County courtroom Monday to register their claim to the late music legend’s estimated $100 million-plus estate and set up a special administrator to ensure that it’s handled properly.”  As of Monday morning no will has been found, and the search for Prince’s will is ongoing.  Prince leaves behind a massive estate that is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  The fact that there does not appear to be a will creates many problems because the large estate will have to be distributed in accordance with Minnesota intestacy laws.  This could lead to legal battles between beneficiaries who will likely end up disagreeing over the property distributions.

See Emma Nelson and Dan Browning, Judge confirms appointment of special administrator on Prince’s estate, Star Tribune, May 3, 2016.

May 3, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Minnesota Is The Only State Left That Still Does not Allow Pet Trusts

Pet trustsIt has become standard practice for states to permit pet trusts to be included in an estate plan.  Minnesota is the only state left that does not allow pet trusts.  There are lawmakers in Minnesota who would like to change the law and permit these kinds of trusts.  “It seems that Rep. Dennis Smith, most likely along with his dog Reagan, planned to make the case to Smith's colleagues that it was time for Minnesota to end this unique designation.”  In the State of Minnesota people can make gifts to their pets in their wills, but there is no legal requirement that money be spent on those pets.  With a pet trust the cash must be spent on the animal as a matter of law.  In every other state besides Minnesota people can set up a pet trust with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney.

See Kyle E. Krull, How Many States Allow “Pet Trusts” as Part of an Estate Plan?, The Law Offices of Kyle E. Krull P.A., April 28, 2016.

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

April 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)