Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, September 30, 2005

Arnold Terminates Gay Marriage Legislation

Earlier on this blog, I reported on California's passage of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act which provides for a gender-neutral definition of marriage.  AB 849

Yesterday (September 29, 2005), Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed this legislation.  The following is from Schwarzenegger vetoes gay marriage bill, USA Today, Sept. 29, 2005:

Schwarzenegger said the bill by Democrat Mark Leno, an openly gay assemblyman from San Francisco, contradicted Proposition 22, which was approved by voters in 2000 and said only marriages between a man and woman are valid.

While a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that the ban is unconstitutional, Schwarzenegger noted that the case is before a state appeals court and will likely be decided by the California Supreme Court.

"If the ban of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional this bill is not necessary," he said. "If the ban is constitutional this bill is ineffective."

September 30, 2005 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Jason Havens Appointed to Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation

Jason Havens, the author of the comprehensive and most useful Legal Research for Estate Planners website, was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush on September 16, 2005 to the Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation (the Able Trust).

September 30, 2005 in Appointments and Honors | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Attorney Disbarred for Stealing from Trust

The following is from Anthony Lin, Former Paul Weiss Partner Is Disbarred for Stealing From Family Trust, NY L.J., Sept. 30, 2005

A retired partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison has been disbarred for stealing more than $500,000 from a family trust for which he was a trustee.

Allan L. Blumstein admitted he essentially depleted an account intended to benefit his elderly aunt, who was suffering from dementia and was confined to a nursing home. The former litigator said he took the money to maintain a lavish but unaffordable lifestyle, without which he feared his wife would leave him. * * *

Blumstein testified that, during the time he was depleting both his and his aunt's accounts, his wife, Susan, was earning an income of between $100,000 and $150,000 as a fund-raiser for the Manhattan School of Music. But he said he never asked her to contribute to their expenses, nor did he ever tell her how dire their financial situation had become. "I never did what I should have done, which was to face up to the issue, which was to say to my wife, we can't go on this way, this is not the way we can live," Blumstein testified at the hearing last March. He and his wife, who were married in 1967, were divorced in 2003 after his conduct came to light.

The judge said he suspected Blumstein's longstanding career disappointment and his "dynamic, ambitious, aggressive" wife, whose work associated her with extremely wealthy people, created "tremendous pressure" on Blumstein "to provide more for his family consistent with Susan's expectations [and] desires than he could do given where he was professionally."

Special thanks to tax blog guru Paul Caron for bringing this article to my attention.

September 30, 2005 in Current Events, Professional Responsibility, Trusts | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Santa Clara Seeks T&E Professor

Santa Clara University School of Law is seeking to hire an entry level or experienced professor with a primary teaching and scholarly interest in trusts and estates.  An emphasis on estate planning is desired but not required.  Interested persons should contact Professor Brad Joondeph ([email protected]).

September 29, 2005 in Teaching | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Estate Tax-Katrina Connection

The following is from Massimo Calabresi, Looking for a Corpse to Make a Case, Time, Sept. 17, 2005.

Federal troops aren't the only ones looking for bodies on the Gulf Coast. On Sept. 9, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions called his old law professor Harold Apolinsky, co-author of Sessions' legislation repealing the federal estate tax, which was encountering sudden resistance on the Hill. Sessions had an idea to revitalize their cause, which he left on Apolinsky's voice mail: "[Arizona Sen.] Jon Kyl and I were talking about the estate tax. If we knew anybody that owned a business that lost life in the storm, that would be something we could push back with."

If legislative ambulance chasing looks like a desperate measure, for the backers of repealing the estate tax, these are desperate times. Just three weeks ago, their long-sought goal of repeal seemed within reach, but Katrina dashed their hopes when Republican leaders put off an expected vote. After hearing from Sessions, Apolinsky, an estate tax lawyer who says his firm includes three multi-billionaires among its clients, mobilized the American Family Business Institute, a Washington-based group devoted to estate tax repeal. They reached out to members along the Gulf Coast to hunt for the dead.

It's been hard. Only a tiny percentage of people are affected by the estate tax—in 2001 only 534 Alabamans were subject to it. And for Hill backers of repeal, that's only part of the problem. Last year, the tax brought in $24.8 billion to the federal government. With Katrina's cost soaring, estate tax opponents need to find a way to make up the potential lost income. For now, getting repeal back on the agenda may depend on Apolinsky and his team of estate-sniffing sleuths, who are searching Internet obituaries among other places. Has he found any victims of both the hurricane and the estate tax? "Not yet," Apolinsky says. "But I'm still looking."

Special thanks to tax blog guru Paul Caron for bringing this article to my attention.

September 29, 2005 in Current Events, Estate Tax | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thomas R. Beecher, Jr., to receive the 2005 Edwin F. Jaeckle Award

The well-known and respected estate planning attorney Thomas R. Beecher, Jr., will receive the 2005 Edwin F. Jaeckle Award from University at Buffalo Law School and the UB Law Alumni Association.  Mr. Beecher is a partner in Buffalo office of Phillips Lytle, LLP.

As the University's press release explains:

The award, for UB Law alumnus Edwin F. Jaeckle, Class of 1915, is the highest honor the UB Law School and the Law Alumni Association can bestow. It is given annually to an individual who has distinguished herself or himself and has made significant contributions to the UB Law School and to the legal profession. * * *

Nils Olsen, law school dean and professor, praised Beecher, noting that "Tom's service to the community and the university has been exemplary. Few have devoted as much time and effort to improving the lives of others through his many leadership roles over the course of his long and distinguished career. His guidance to the UB Law School through his membership on the Dean's Advisory Council has helped us enormously. He is an exceptionally worthy recipient of the Jaeckle Award."

Mr. Beecher will receive the award at a luncheon on October 22, 2005 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

September 29, 2005 in Appointments and Honors | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Should a 57 year dead person be exhumed?

That is the question which will be facing the Supreme Court of Texas tomorrow (Sept. 29, 2005) when it hears oral argument is a pair of cases (In re the John G. & Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation and In re Frost National Bank) involving the Kenedy (that's with one "n") estate.

John G. Kenedy, Jr. was the heir to an enormous ranch deep in South Texas.  John died in 1948 and his estate passed to his wife and sister.

Five years ago, Ray was visiting with his grandmother.  Just before she died, she remarked that he looked like his John, his "grandfather."  Ray then started an investigation and set up a website to see if it was possible that his mother, Ann, was actually John's non-marital child and sole heir to the Kenedy fortune valued at up to $1 billion.

Attorneys for the charities which now control most of the property tracable to John's estate claim that the estate was closed decades ago and it is irrelevant whether Ann is or is not John's child.

On the other hand, Ann claims that she has a right to prove her paternity and then seek whatever portion of the estate to which she may be entitled.

See John MacCormack, Kenedy Legal Case Back in Court, San Antonio Express-News, Sept. 26, 2005.

September 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Results of 2005 Estate Planning Practice Strategies Survey

About a month ago, I suggested that you may wish to participate in the 2005 Estate Planning Practice Strategies survey.
The results of this survey are now available.  The following is extracted from an e-mail I received from Ms. Jennifer Campbell, VP/CEO of Integrity Marketing Solutions.
[P]lease visit our website to download the [results]: http://www.mycoachnet.com/main.htm
If you visit the site, you will be asked to register. There is no charge to download the survey, but the shopping cart default will ask for your credit card information. YOU DO NOT NEED TO ENTER ANY INFORMATION THERE -- JUST SKIP THOSE FIELDS. It is not necessary to complete the "transaction." When you click to submit, the program will generate a dynamic page where you can download the survey report.
Also -- we will presenting a report of our findings on Friday morning, Oct. 28 a the Southern California Tax & Estate Planning Forum. For more information about the forum, visit their website at http://www.clenet.com

September 28, 2005 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Senator Frist Update

Continuing the blind trust discussion from earlier today ---

Senator Frist is reported as stating that:

he "acted properly" in selling stock in his family's hospital chain. * * * [and that]

his decision last summer to divest in Hospital Corporation of America, co-founded by his father, was meant to eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest. He said he "had no information about HCA or its performance that was not publicly available."

See Andrea Stone, Frist denies wrongdoing in stock sale, USA Today, Sept. 27, 2005.

September 27, 2005 in Current Events, Trusts | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Anna Nicole Goes to Supreme Court

Earlier today (Sept. 27, 2005), the United States Supreme Court granted cert in Marshall v. Marshall, 04-1544, to determine when federal courts may hear claims that are also involved in state probate proceedings.  The Ninth Circuit earlier held as follows:

We hold that all federal courts, including bankruptcy courts, are bound by the probate exception to federal court jurisdiction and that we are required to refrain from deciding state law probate matters, no matter how the issue is framed by the parties. We vacate the district court’s final judgment and remand with instructions.

So, Vickie Lynn Marshall (the real name of Anna Nicole) will get another chance to snag some more of Howard's money.

See also Gina Holland, Anna Nicole's Case Goes to Supreme Court, AP, Sept. 27, 2005.

Special thanks Erik Holt for bringing this case to my prompt attention.

September 27, 2005 in Current Events, Estate Administration, New Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (2)