Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

California legal battle over Charles Manson's estate worth up to $1M includes DNA tests, signature comparisons

A California judge is set to select one of three possible heirs claiming to be next in line to receive Charles Manson's belongings. The three include his pen pal and "murderabilia" collector Michael Channels; Jason Freeman, who claims to be Manson's biological grandson; and Daniel Arguelles, who claims he is Manson's biological son.

Manson died at age 83 in 2017 while serving life in prison. His estate includes guitars, artwork, photographs, clothing and original songs — three of which were recorded by Guns 'N Roses, Marilyn Manson and The Beach Boys. The estate is estimated to be worth between several hundred thousand to a million dollars.

For more information see. Audrey Conklin “California legal battle over Charles Manson's estate worth up to $1M includes DNA tests, signature comparisons”, Fox News, February 1, 2023.

Special thanks to Jery Martin Jr. (Student at University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

 

February 7, 2023 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 6, 2023

Social Security cost-of-living adjustments have fallen short of inflation by $1,054 since the start of pandemic

Estate planningNew data used to measure government inflations shows that average Social Security benefits fell short of inflation for the past two years. The Social Security Administration uses a measurement called the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W to calculate the cost of living adjustment each year.

The average benefits fell short by about $1,054 from the start of the pandemic through 2022. This excludes Medicare Part B premiums. This is going to be difficult for people to recover from and will largely depend on how much inflation comes down. This serves as a reminder for retirees to carefully plan their income streams and not rely solely on Social Security.

For more information see Lori Konish “Social Security cost-of-living adjustments have fallen short of inflation by $1,054 since the start of pandemic”, CNBC, January 12, 2023.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

February 6, 2023 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Priscilla Presley has strong case in dispute over control of daughter’s estate

LMPresleyLast week, Priscilla Presley challenged her daughter’s will, raising concerns of a family rift and messy legal battle over the estate. Priscilla released a statement denying a family rift. Legal experts have spoken out, saying that Priscilla has a strong claim.

Many factors have been cited, including the suggestion that Lisa Marie’s signature was forged and that her name is misspelled in the document. Additionally, the original trust set out the process for amendments, which include delivery of the amendment to be made to Priscilla, which was not carried out while Lisa Marie was alive.

At this time, it is unclear if Riley Keough, Lisa Marie’s eldest daughter, has an interest in serving as co-trustee on the estate with her grandmother.

For more information see Anousha Sakoui “Priscilla Presley has strong case in dispute over control of daughter’s estate”, The Los Angeles Times, February 4, 2023.

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

February 5, 2023 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Vermont man accused of shooting WWII hero grandfather, murdering mom at sea demands grand jury minutes

Marthas-vineyard-charter-fishing-menemshaNathan Carman, who is facing federal charges for allegedly killing his mother, Linda Carman, during a fishing trip to obtain the family fortune, is demanding grand jury minutes according to the latest court filing. Carman is also accused of killing his grandfather, John Chakalos, in 2013 as part of a scheme to claim money from the family trust. At this time, he has not been charged with any crimes related to his grandfather’s death.

A demand for grand jury minutes is rare due to the secret nature of grand jury proceedings. A federal judge has given prosecutors a week to respond to the request.

For more information see Michael Ruiz “Vernont man accused of shooting WWII hero grandfather, murdering mom at sea demands grand jury minutes”, Fox News, January 30, 2023.

Special thanks to Jery Martin Jr. (Student at University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

February 4, 2023 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 3, 2023

ESG Investing After the DOL Rule on “Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights”

Estate planningLate last year, the Department of Labor under President Biden promulgated a new rule on “Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights,” superseding the Department’s 2020 rule. Reporting on the matter has suggested that the new Biden Rule encourages ESG investing, in contrast to the previous Trump Rule, which was reported as hostile towards ESG investing. These reports are incorrect.

Max M. Schanzenbach (Northwestern Pritzker School of Law) and Robert H. Sitkoff (Harvard Law School) have published a Summary of the Rule to clarify the effect of the new Rule and what exactly has changed since 2020.

For more information see Max M. Schanzenbach and Robert H. Sitkoff “ESG Investing After the DOL Rule on 'Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights’”, Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, February 2, 2023.

February 3, 2023 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

64th Anniversary of "The Day the Music Died"

Day_music_diedWriting this blog from Lubbock, Texas, today is especially significant as the 64th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly (a Lubbock native), Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.), and the plane's pilot.

Like most Americans, Buddy Holly died intestate.

February 3, 2023 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 2, 2023

The Murdoch family trust: how the scions could battle for control

MurdochRupert Murdoch, known as one of the most powerful men in the news, spent most of his career facing the threat to his control of News Corp in the form of his family. His sisters, three Australian women who have spent their lives away from the limelight, long could out-vote Murdoch. While they found a business arrangement that worked for the siblings, Murdoch eventually saw the advantage of buying them out in the 1990s. Now, a similar dilemma of succession faces the next generation of the family.  

Murdoch’s eldest son, Lachlan, is now chief executive of Fox Corporation and executive co-chair of News Corp and finds himself in the same position his father was in decades earlier. Younger brother, James Murdoch, was overlooked for the succession of Fox News and is now largely estranged from his brother. At this time, it is uncertain where the loyalties of their sisters, Prudence MacLeod and Elisabeth Murdoch, fall.

Sources close to the family have told reporters that after Rupert passes, his shares will be dispersed among the four adult children. They believe there could be a scenario where it becomes three against one, with Lachlan closing control over the family business. This could be largely due to differences in political opinions.

The Murdoch trusts have spanned nine decades and five generations. Patriarch, Keith Murdoch, established a high standard for complexity and tax efficiency by establishing eight inter vivid settlements for his children in the 1930s. Rupert had embraced this same structure with his own descendants. The core assets of the trust remain consistent, involving a family farm near Melbourne, Australia, Rupert’s art collection, and shares in Murdoch holding companies.

In Rupert’s 1999 divorce from his second wife, Anna, the divorce settlement established unbreakable terms to hand down Murdoch’s wealth as Anna fought for the assets to be put in a trust for Murdoch’s four eldest children. In 2006, Murdoch’s two youngest daughters were taken into the trust, but as beneficiaries, and carry no votes. 

For more information see Alex Barker “The Murdoch family trust: how the scions could battle for control”, Financial Times, January 8, 2023.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) and Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

February 2, 2023 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Article: A Survey of Preferences for Estate Distribution at Death Part 2: Children and Other Beneficiaries

Yair Listokin (Yale Law School) and John Morley (Yale Law School) recently published a paper, A Survey of Preference for Estate Distribution at Death Part 2: Children and Other Beneficiaries, 2023. Provided below is an abstract to the Paper:

This is the second of two papers presenting the results of a nationally representative survey of 9,000 American adults in which we asked people how they want to distribute their property when they die. In the first paper, we focused on gifts to spouses and partners. In this second paper, we focus on gifts to children, parents, siblings, and other beneficiaries. We offer several important findings. First, respondents depart to a surprising degree from the pattern of lineal familial descent favored by intestacy law. Respondents give much less to their parents than the law of intestacy currently provides and much more to siblings, extended relatives, and friends. Second, people are surprisingly generous to their stepchildren. Our respondents prefer stepchildren over every type of family member other than their spouses and their own children. This result starkly contrasts with state intestacy law, which almost never provides stepchildren anything. Taken together, our results suggest unexpectedly strong preferences for younger generations over older ones and for personal affinities over blood relationships. Our survey method improves upon prior empirical studies of probated wills by offering a less biased sample and by providing the first reliable data on unconventional families and less common beneficiaries.

February 1, 2023 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Pictures show empty, partially open casket thrown in north Houston ditch: 'I feel violated'

CoffinEarlier this month, residents of a north Houston neighborhood made a disturbing discovery: an open casket sitting in a ditch.

Lloyd Tucker Jr. reported the casket to the police, hoping that it would be removed as soon as possible. Mr. Tucker discovered the casket outside his home and noted that it had not been there the night before. He believed it appeared to be tampered with and feared that someone was missing their casket. 

Police investigated the casket, noted that it was empty, and left the scene. No cemeteries or funeral homes in the area reported any missing caskets or bodies.

For more information see Elizabeth Pritchett “Pictures show empty, partially open casket thrown in north Houston ditch: ‘I feel violated’”, Fox News, January 19, 2023.

January 31, 2023 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Woman fatally shoots dying husband at hospital, police say

Estate planningEarlier this month, Ellen Gilland shot and killed her terminally ill husband, Jerry, inside a Daytona Beach, Florida hospital. Mr. Gilland had been ill for quite a while, and the duo planned to carry out the shootingtogether.

Ms. Gilland refused to leave the room for over four hours after the shooting, but eventually negotiated an exit with police. Several members of the hospital staff were evacuated, however nobody else was harmed in the shooting.

For more information see The Associated Press “Woman fatally shoots dying husband at hospital, police say”, KWQC, January 21, 2023.

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

January 31, 2023 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)