Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

An Executor's Job to Manage Financial Records

Financial recordsThe will executor is the only person entitled to the deceased’s financial records, but they have a duty to provide the beneficiaries with any information to manage their inheritance from the estate. If there were a claim against the executor, however, the beneficiaries would have a right to discovery and could obtain copies of all the financial records. Nonetheless, it is important as an executor to be transparent, so that the beneficiaries are able to trust your intentions. Additionally, it is a good idea to scan financial records to maintain a digital copy for future needs.

See Is an Executor Required to Provide Beneficiaries with Financial Records?, Elder Law Answers, May 10, 2016.

June 15, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Phil Taylor Leaves Nothing to Secret Wife

Phil taylorMotorhead drummer Phil Taylor left nothing in his will to his secret wife. He mentioned her in the will but maintained that they had no contact, starting a short time after their marriage. Shortly before his death, Taylor tried to track her down to finalize a divorce but was unable to find her. He was, however, granted the divorce two weeks before he died, and the will left a bulk of his estate to his sisters.

See Motorhead Drummer Phil Taylor Snubs His ‘Lost’ Wife in His £1 Million Will, Daily Mail, June 11, 2016.

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

June 13, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Why a Joint Will Is Not Always Right for You

Joint willSome people might think they are getting a deal with a joint will, but “Buy One, Get One Free” is not always the way to go. The terms of a joint will may not be binding forever, especially if one spouse outlives the other by several years, potentially changing the feelings and intent of the surviving spouse. The survivor can revoke a joint will at any time, unless there are binding contract terms between both signers. So, if you think getting a joint will makes estate planning easier and cheaper, think again. It is best to get two wills and not fall into the BOGO bogus.

See George Fox, A Joint Will Is Not a Bargain BOGO, Big Canoe News, April 27, 2016.

June 12, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Learn from Prince: How Estate Planning Will Benefit You

Prince3Prince had a reputation of being hands on with his legal affairs, but why did he not execute a will? Learning from Prince’s misfortune will allow people to understand the benefits planning for your estate provides.

When you die without a will, your assets will pass through intestate succession, which can become complicated and expensive. Further, if you die intestate, your assets become public, which can be burdensome for celebrities, like Prince. Dying intestate does not allow you to allocate your assets in the best way you feel fit, making it important to plan ahead for your estate. Without a well-executed estate plan, you may just end up like Prince with numerous people fighting over your estate.

See Winnie Sun, 5 Things Prince’s Family, and You, Should Know About Estate Planning, Forbes, May 18, 2016.

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

June 11, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 10, 2016

What to Consider After Establishing Your Estate Plan

Beneficiary designationsOftentimes, people think that they have completed their estate plan, but it is essential you take two last steps to ensure your assets are directed in the way you intended—examining your asset titles and beneficiary designations for life insurance and retirement funds. A study suggests that half of the assets passed in America pass by joint titling, beneficiary designations, and trusts. Joint titling and beneficiary designations will take precedence over wills for distributing assets. The Article further discusses the considerations for joint titling and beneficiary designations one must take into account when establishing their estate plan.

See Janet M. Colliton, Colliton: Retitling Assets Can Change the Estate Plan, Daily Local News, May 16, 2016.

June 10, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Update from Forbes Library on Its Continuance as a Non-government Entity

Forbes LibraryForbes Library trustees are seeking to preserve the relationship between it and the city of Northampton as expressed in Charles E. Forbes will. City Solicitor Seewald is asserting that the library is an arm of the city government or a municipal department, following the Commonwealth’s conclusion that it is not. The probate court is set to interpret the provisions of the will. If the library becomes a part of the city government, then there would be no guarantee that the Northampton would continue to support the library as accepted under the will.

See Forbes Seeks Status Quo, Forbes Library, June 1, 2016.

June 10, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What Can Prince's Death Teach Us?

Prince2Perhaps more shocking than Prince’s death, is the absence of a will to dispose of his estate. It is always assumed that will formalities serve one main function—advancing testator wishes and intent. Four secondary functions are also served by wills—evidentiary, ritual, protective, and channeling. Another secondary function, however, allows the testator to advance their wishes—witness requirement or the “preservative” function. These witnesses will most likely assure that fewer wills just disappear when time to dispose of the estate.

See Frederick Vars, What Prince’s Death Can Teach Us About Wills and Estates, AL.com, June 8, 2016.

June 9, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Executor of an Estate's Jobs

Making inventoryIt is the executor of an estate’s job to make an inventory for probate. With this job, the executor will be making sure all is in order before going in front of the judge, but it is important to review your state’s laws if there are specific requirements for probate inventory.

First, the executor must locate the assets, usually the most time-consuming part, and turn over the tally to the court. After locating the assets, the executor will need to categorize them, which allows the executor to term broad categories. During this process, the non-probate assets do not need to be accounted for because they pass outside of the estate. Next, the executor will need to value the assets at the fair market value. And finally, the executor has a duty to manage the assets prudently, setting them up for liability if their actions are negligent.

See Terry White, How To Make an Inventory for Court in a Probate Case, Houston Chronicles.

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

June 9, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Spousal Election Must Not Be "Willfully Absent"

Elective shareIn Lovett v. Peterson, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the probate court’s judgment that a wife was physically separated from her husband for several years while he lived with his mistress but was not “willfully absent” according to the testate spousal election statute. After his death, his wife elected against the will, which would afford her half of the estate. Soon after, the husband’s daughter petitioned the probate court for a declaration that his wife was not the surviving spouse, being willfully absent from him for more than a year before he died. His wife, however, never acted with specific intent to no longer be a part of the marriage, making her not willfully absent under the statute.

See Jason Byrne, COA Holds that a Spouse Must Be Willfully and Physical Absent from Her Decedent Spouse for at Least a Year Before Death To Be Disqualified from Electing Against the Decedent’s Will, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, May 27, 2016.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

June 8, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wasserstein's Mistress Fights for Share of His Estate

WassersteinBruce Wasserstein’s former mistress was urged to have his child through IVF and now, after his death, wants a share of his $2.2 billion fortune. Their child was born with autism a year before his death, and upon confronting him, she found him with a new woman. The mother claims that Wasserstein put in writing that he wanted his daughter to have an equal share of his estate along with his other five children. Now, however, she claims that his eldest children have written his daughter out of the will and are challenging his testator language. Legal documents were filed in 2012, and the battle is ongoing.

See Wills Robinson, How Bruce Wasserstein ‘Encouraged His Mistress To Get Pregnant Through IVF, Dumped Her on Bedrest and Was in Bed with Another Woman When She Confronted Him After the Birth – And Now Their Child Has Been Cut From the $2.2 Billion Fortune,’ Daily Mail, June 7, 2016.

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

June 8, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)