Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Britney Spears will appear remotely at conservatorship hearing

SpearsBritney Spears will appear at her next conservatorship hearing remotely—along with everyone else. 

On Monday the Los Angeles County Superior Court confirmed that "all parties, including Ms. Spears, are scheduled to appear remotely" for the June 23 hearing.

According to a press release, "[l]imited seating will be available in the courtroom and in an overflow courtroom with a live audio feed from the court." 

The June 23 hearing will be the first time Spears will address LA Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny. 

According to a source close to Britney Spears, her primary focus "is having her father, Jamie Spears, removed from the case." 

The source also said, "[s]he feels that ending the conservatorship entirely can always be discussed down the road, but right now the issue is Jamie."

Samuel D. Ingham III, Britney Spears' attorney stated that Spears was afraid of her father Jamie and "will not perform" going forward should he remain in charge of her career.

See Alex Heigl, Britney Spears will appear remotely at conservatorship hearing, Fox News, June 14, 2021. 

June 15, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article: Question of Women Rights: Stri Dharma on the Hindu Women’s Rights Violation in In Colonial Tamilnadu, 1926 – 1936

V. Venkatraman and Dr. Kalaivana Rajendran recently published an article entitled,  Question of Women Rights: Stri Dharma on the Hindu Women’s Rights Violation in In Colonial Tamilnadu, 1926 – 1936, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Estate planning

The status of women in India has been subject to many changes over the span of recorded Indian history. Practices such as female infanticide, dowry, child marriage and the taboo on widow remarriage, which began in upper-caste Hindu society in Northern India, have had a long duration, proving difficult to root out, and in the instance of dowry have spread to all castes, classes, and even religions. Women in colonial India were no less progressive, aware and active in gender, political and socio-economic issues than the women today. Stri Dharma a woman edited journal exposed the problems of women to the world. The struggling of women in their life from birth to death was brought to light by Stri Dharma a Women's Journal. In its Columns it filled the news related to women issues. Even under the rule of British Raj women wrote the issues against the women particularly Social issues.

June 15, 2021 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 14, 2021

Prince Philip Reportedly Left £30 Million in His Will to “Three Key Staff” Members

PhilPrince Philip reportedly left a very generous gift to his closest staff members upon his passing in April. The majority of Prince Philip's estate was likely left to his wife, but a source close to Buckingham Palace revealed that "the Duke of Edinburgh also wanted to give something special to three key staff members he was very close with."

The three staff members include his private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller Bakewell, his page William Henderson, and his valet Stephen Niedojadio.

The three men helped take care of Prince Philip all the way up until his last days. Prince Philip's private secretary, Bakewell, regularly stood in for Philip at events when he was unable to attend. Henderson and Niedojadio would also take turns staying with him during his time at Wood Farm. And Henderson was with Philip during his last two days at Windsor Castle. 

In addition to the three staff members, Prince Harry is expected to receive an inheritance despite the "bombshell Oprah interview" that aired just before Philip's death. A source claimed that the interview should not have any impact on Harry's inheritance stating "that was all sorted out quite a while ago." 

See Emily Kirkpatrick, Prince Philip Reportedly Left £30 Million in His Will to “Three Key Staff” Members, Vanity Fair, May 28, 2021. 

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.  

June 14, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article: Decisions at the End of Life

David Orentlicher and Judit Sandor recently published an article entitled, Decisions at the End of Life, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article: Estate planning

Advances in medical technology have increased the ethical and legal dilemmas at the end of life. It is difficult to know the “good death “or what constitutes a dignified ending of life. Nor is the proper role of the law in regulating end-of-life medical care clear. To what extent should these matters be worked out between physicians and patients (or families), and to what extent should legal rules guide practice? And who should determine the rules—legislators issuing laws of broad application, or judges developing nuanced standards on a case-by-case basis?

In this chapter we explore the similarities and the major differences between U.S. and European legal thinking and jurisprudence. Of course, on a number of issues, there is no single U.S. or European approach. Accordingly, while we will give special attention to the jurisprudence of the U.S. Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, we also will consider the significant variations among different U.S. states and different European countries.

June 14, 2021 in Articles, Death Event Planning, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Plan to Revive I.R.S. ‘Wealth Squad’ Puts the Richest on Notice

Wealth taxPresident Biden has proposed "adding $80 billion to the Internal Revenue Service budget as well as giving the agency more authority to crack down on tax evasion by high-earners and large corporations." 

The propose additions came before reports were released that indicated how little in taxes the richest Americans paid from 2014 to 2018. In addition to President Biden's proposals, those reports have "intensified interest in the tax code." 

The reports do not necessarily indicate those in the high net worth categories have been engaging in illegal activity in order to pay less in taxes. It is just as likely that high-earners have simply been using the tax code to their advantage.

There are many legal tax strategies that high-earners have used to "minimize their taxes." The tax strategies appear to be exactly what President Biden looks to eliminate. 

In order to deal with this new attention to tax strategies, tax experts have agreed that the wealthy and slightly-less-wealthy should keep better records. 

If President Biden's plan is adopted, "[s]ome of the additional money in his budget would toward reviving an underfunded organization within the I.R.S. called the global high-wealth industry group, which focuses on the complicated tax returns filed by the affluent." 

See Paul Sullivan, Plan to Revive I.R.S. ‘Wealth Squad’ Puts the Richest on Notice, N.Y. Times, June 11, 2021. 

Special thanks to Matthew Bogin, (Esq., Bogin Law) for bringing this article to my attention. 

June 13, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Article: Fiduciary Agency Denied

Robert Flannigan recently published an article entitled,  Fiduciary Agency Denied, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. 

There is a long running conflict of authority on a fundamental aspect of agency. The conflict is whether every agent, or agent function, is regulated by fiduciary accountability. On one side are numerous conventional cases where agency is described as a status fiduciary relation without qualification. That is, expressly or implicitly, agents are identified as fiduciaries by reason of their status alone in all respects on a default basis. Only through the informed consent of the principal may that accountability be altered or eliminated. On the other side are judicial statements in a variety of cases that deny that every agent is subject to the regulation. Judges have not confronted the evident contradiction of principle. The contradiction has been noted by some modern writers, but the matter generally has received only cursory attention. I will investigate the matter in some depth. I show that there is no historical foundation for the denial of the default accountability. The matter, it should be appreciated, is of considerable importance for both the law of agency and the law of fiduciary accountability. One must understand clearly what might justify any supposed differential treatment for some agents.

June 12, 2021 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 11, 2021

New Case: Potter v. Potter

In Potter v. Potter, James Potter owned an interest in a Maryland limited liability company. The members of the company agreed to who should receive each member's ownership interest upon death of a member. After Mr. Potter passed away, there was a dispute over whether his interest would pass to the person named in the LLC agreement or to his estate. 

The Circuit Court found that the operating agreement was enforceable and that the designee was the rightful owner of the interest. 

However, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reversed and found that a membership in a Maryland Limited Liability Company is an interest in property that is subject to the provisions of Maryland's testamentary and probate laws. Md. Code, Est. & Trusts § 1-102(r). 

The Court also found: 

A provision in the operating agreement of a Maryland limited liability company that purports to "automatically and immediately" transfer a member's interest to a designated successor upon the member's death is not effective unless the operating agreement was executed in accordance with the provisions of Maryland's statute of wills, which is codified as Md. Code, Est. & Trusts § 4-102.

See Stuart Levine, Denise Potter et al. v. Ruby Potter, Case No. 671, 2018 Term Opinion by Kehoe, J., SL News, May 26, 2021. 

Special thanks to Linda Couch, a recent law school graduate from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, for bringing this Article to my attention. 


June 11, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Article: Incremental Change in Wills Adjudication

Mark Glover recently published an article entitled, Incremental Change in Wills Adjudication, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law journal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Estate planning

Probate courts must decide which wills are valid and which are not. The traditional law provides courts a straightforward process to make these decisions. If the court determines that a will complies with certain formalities, then the will is valid, but if the court determines that a will does not comply, then it is invalid. This decision-making process has been criticized for being overly formalistic. While the traditional law is relatively easy to apply, it places greater importance on the process by which a testator executes a will than on the substance of the testator’s intent. Consequently, the traditional wills adjudication process invalidates noncompliant wills that are authentic expressions of testators’ intended estate plans.

This criticism has led to major reforms being incorporated into the Uniform Probate Code that are designed to make the wills adjudication process more accurate in distinguishing authentic wills from inauthentic wills. Although no state has fully adopted the UPC’s comprehensive reform package, few states still cling wholeheartedly to the traditional law. Instead, policymakers in many states have implemented changes that take incremental steps away from the traditional law’s formalistic approach to wills adjudication.

While the preference of state policymakers for incremental change, rather than for comprehensive reform, is clear, questions remain regarding the merits of these more modest approaches to reform. This Article seeks to better understand why state policymakers might favor partial rather than wholesale change to the wills adjudication process. More importantly, it analyzes whether some incremental changes are preferable to others. Ultimately, by providing a better understanding of the merits and possibilities of incremental change, this Article provides guidance to state policymakers who are wary of comprehensive reform.

June 10, 2021 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Article: Trusts and Choice of Law in South Korea: The Case for Adopting the Hague Trusts Convention Trusts and Choice of Law in South Korea: The Case for Adopting the Hague Trusts Convention

Ying Khai Liew recently published an article entitled, Trusts and Choice of Law in South Korea: The Case for Adopting the Hague Trusts Convention Trusts and Choice of Law in South Korea: The Case for Adopting the Hague Trusts Convention, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article: Estate planning

Despite having recognised the trust for 60 years now, South Korean law does not contain specific choice of law rules applicable to trusts. This is a regrettable state of affairs in our increasingly globalised world, where incidences of cross-border trust disputes will only be on the rise. This paper argues that the lack of a dedicated set of choice of law rules relating to trusts causes much confusion and uncertainty, not only as to how South Korean courts would characterise a trust dispute and the inconsistent connecting factors which would apply, but also in relation to the scope of the applicable choice of law rules (whichever they may be) and the special difficulties raised by a breach of trust claim. All these difficulties derogate from a proper recognition of the trust as a distinctive legal device, and fail properly to protect the autonomy and legitimate expectations of the parties. The paper suggests that these problems would easily fall away if the South Korean legislature adopts the Hague Trusts Convention.

June 9, 2021 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

You May Live a Lot Longer

AgingLife expectancy, especially in America, continues to evolve in unimaginable ways. Phil Mickelson just recently won the P.G.A. Championship. He's 50. Tom Brady just recently won the Super Bowl. He's 43. Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time is 39. And Joe Biden, the newly elected President is 78. 

Accordingly, our evaluation of age is changing as people are living longer and accomplishing things ate older ages. "The fraction of over-85s in the U.S. classified as disabled dropped by a third between 1982 and 2005, while the share who were institutionalized fell nearly in half."

The new adjustment in our conception of age has made researchers "distinguish between 'chronological age'—how old the calendar says you are—and 'biological age'—how old your body seems based on measurements of organ functioning and other markers." 

In this sense, people vary widely as there are factors lie genetics, environment, and lifestyle that come into play. 

Nonetheless, Americans seem to be aging more slowly than before. 

See David Brooks, You May Live a Lot Longer , N.Y. Times, June 3, 2021. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

June 9, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)