Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Marc S. Bekerman appointed as Associate Director of NYLS Graduate Tax Program

Bekerman_2The following is from a news release issued by the New York Law School:

New York Law School, one of the oldest independent law schools in the nation, * * * announced the appointment of Marc S. Bekerman as Associate Director of its Graduate Tax Program. Bekerman [also] serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Law School, teaching a variety of courses related to trusts and estates in both the J.D. and LL.M. programs.

Now in its fourth year, the Graduate Tax Program at New York Law School embodies a unique, measured approach to graduate tax study, enabling students to increase their mastery of tax law and refine their practice skills in order to better serve their clients and communities. “We are so pleased to welcome Marc as our Associate Director. His broad and diverse experience with trusts and estates and his great understanding our program’s goals make him an ideal addition,” said Professor Ann F. Thomas, Managing Director of the Graduate Tax Program.   

“I am very excited at this new opportunity and look forward to helping the LL.M. program continue its growth as an important part of the national tax practice community,” Bekerman said.   

Bekerman received his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from the State University of New York at Binghamton, his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, and his LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law. He is admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey, and California, as well as a number of federal courts including the United States Tax Court. Bekerman has received a rating of AV from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating available.   

Bekerman’s practice in estate planning includes the preparation of wills and trusts, estate administration, and estate litigation. In addition, he currently serves on the Council of the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section of the American Bar Association as Vice-chair of the Standing CLE Committee and member of the committees on Continuing Legal Education, Planning, and Community Outreach. Bekerman is a fellow of both the American Bar Foundation and the New York Bar Foundation.

August 29, 2007 in Appointments and Honors | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Terms of Leona Helmsley's Will Released -- Dog "Trouble" to Benefit from $12 Million


[Note:  This posting is based on newspaper accounts of the will.  I have now received a copy of the actual will and will post a more accurate description tomorrow.  So, please check later postings.]

The terms of Leona Helmsley's will were released yesterday (August 28, 2007) in a New York Surrogate Court.

Here is a summary of the main provisions of her will:

      • Her dog, Trouble (a white Maltese shown in the photo) will benefit from a $12 million trust fund.  Trusts for pet animals are valid under New York law (N.Y Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 7-8.1).  However, the court may reduce the amount of the property if it determines that it substantially exceeds the amount required for Trouble.  The excess would then pass as part of the residuary estate as described below (unless her will provides otherwise).  It appears that her brother, Alvin Rosenthal, is the trustee of this trust.
      • Her brother, Alvin Rosenthal, will receive a multi-million dollar bequest.
      • Two of her grandchildren will receive $5 million each conditioned on their visiting their father's grave site at least once each year.  I am uncertain how compliance with this condition will be monitored.
      • Two of her grandchildren will receive nothing for "reasons that are known the them."
      • $3 million for the upkeep of her mausoleum (discussed earlier on this blog) which must be "washed or steam-cleaned at least once a year."
      • When Trouble dies, she will be buried in the mausoleum.
      • Nicholas Celea, her chauffeur, will receive $100,000.
      • The remainder of her estate worth many billions of dollars, will pass to the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.  Because the remainder is huge and goes to her charity, it is unlikely that Trouble's trust will be contested (in my opinion).

See Helmsley's Will: Dog - $12 million, 2 Grandkids - 0, CNBC.com, Aug. 29, 2007.

August 29, 2007 in Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

James Brown Update

Brown2 It appears that the fold of children of James Brown has another new member.  The following is from One more child for James Brown, Ireland On-line, Aug. 26, 2007:

DNA testing has proved the late funk legend James Brown fathered one more child- the third such case since his death last year.

Dozens of people underwent foolproof DNA analysis after claiming to be the offspring of the late star - and now Brown's attorney and longtime friend Buddy Dallas confirmed on Monday one more result came back positive, bringing the total to three.

While Dallas refuses to release any details as other tests are pending, one of the first new-found children LaRhonda Pettit has already gone public with the results of her test - a 99.99% probability she is the soul man's daughter.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) and Diane Marie Amann (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law and Visiting Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law) for bringing this historical note to my attention.

August 28, 2007 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Deeds and Prisoners -- Texas Style

DeedsIn an interesting Texas statute (H.B. 2566) to take effect on September 1, 2007, a person may not file various documents with the court if he or she is currently an inmate, that is, a person "housed in a secure correctional facility." The documents which the inmate may not file include deeds, abstract of judgments, and all other instruments concerning real or personal property.

The statute does provide exceptions.  The inmate may file the document if he or she includes a statement in the document that he or she is an inmate or, if the document is filed by a non-inmate on behalf of the inmate, that the filing is on behalf of the inmate.

August 28, 2007 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Post-Mortem Conception, Inheritance, and New York Law

Erica Howard-Potter (J.D., 2006, Albany Law School) has recently published her article entitled Beyond Our Conception: A Look at Children Born Posthumously Through Reproductive Technology and New York Intestacy Law, 14 Buff. Women's L.J. 23 (2005-2006).

Here is an excerpt from the article's introduction:

This comment will first discuss the different types of assisted reproductive technologies, common law presumptions of paternity and the law behind posthumous (or after-born) and non-marital children. Next, this comment will look at the United States cases that have dealt with the issue of posthumously conceived children, followed by the approaches taken by the American Law Institute, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, the American Bar Association and the few state legislatures that have specifically dealt with this issue. A focus on current New York law will follow, including the intestacy statute, a section of the domestic relations law, the non-marital children statute, case law and a look to policy recommendations made by a New York State task force created specifically to discuss children born as a result of assisted reproductive technology. Additionally, there is current proposed legislation in New York concerning after-born children and children of assisted reproduction that will be discussed. There will then be a brief discussion about wills, detailing the difference between posthumously conceived children's rights under a will versus under intestacy law. Finally, there will be some proposals and suggestions made to the New York State Legislature on how New York should handle this issue.

August 28, 2007 in Articles, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Elder Law: Readings, Cases, and Materials (3d ed.) Released

A. Kimberley Dayton (Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law), Molly M. Wood, Esq. (Stevens & Brand, LLP, Lawrence, Kansas), and Julia Belian (Visiting Associate Professor of Law, University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law) have recently published the third edition of their book entitled Elder Law: Readings, Cases, and Materials.

Here is the publisher's description (LexisNexis):

As people age, they often face a bewildering array of legal issues, ranging from age discrimination to retirement planning, and elder abuse to assisted suicide. Elder Law: Readings, Cases, and Materials is designed to serve as the main textbook for courses and seminars on the intersection of law and aging. Thoroughly updated with new cases, COLA amounts, and URLs, the Third Edition of Elder Law includes new materials on kinship care giving, grandparent rights, and a lawyer’s duty to incompetent third parties. The authors have also expanded the coverage of SSI. New materials include the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2003, an update on Social Security reform, expanded coverage of reverse mortgages and subsidized housing for the elderly, and recent tax legislation.

Elder Law is also accompanied by a documentary supplement, Elder Law: Statutes and Regulations. This companion volume contains selected federal and state statutes, uniform acts, federal regulations, the viatical settlements model regulation, and miscellaneous provisions.

August 27, 2007 in Books - For the Classroom, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law Review Article Submission Humor

For a humorous view of the law review submission process, see Daniel J. Solove, A Sample Law Review Submission Policy, Aug. 22, 2007.

August 27, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Oldest Canadian Will

Canadian_will_echanizOn Christmas Eve 1584, Basque whaler Joanes de Echaniz dictated his final will and testament from his ship which was trapped in the ice at Terra Nova near Carol's Cove in Red Bay.  See Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canada Hall: Shipboard Life, Dec. 16, 2004.  The Museum has a display of this event as shown in the photo.

According to Sympatico, this may be "the oldest surviving will in Canadian history."

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) and Diane Marie Amann (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law and Visiting Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law) for bringing this historical note to my attention.

August 27, 2007 in Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Top SSRN Downloads

Ssrn_2 Here are the top downloads from June 28, 2007 to August 27, 2007 from the SSRN Journal of Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law for all papers announced in the last 60 days:

Rank Downloads Paper Title
1 242 Taxing Privilege More Effectively: Replacing the Estate Tax with an Inheritance Tax
Lily L. Batchelder,
New York University School of Law,
Date posted to database: June 18, 2007
Last Revised: July 30, 2007
2 199 Erickson: A Primer on FLPS
Wendy C. Gerzog,
University of Baltimore - School of Law,
Date posted to database: July 21, 2007
Last Revised: July 21, 2007
3 129 Fiduciaries
Kenneth M. Rosen,
University of Alabama - School of Law,
Date posted to database: July 17, 2007
Last Revised: August 13, 2007
4 67 Outsourcing Intimacy: The Taxation of Powers of Attorney
Bridget J. Crawford,
Pace University - School of Law,
Date posted to database: June 25, 2007
Last Revised: August 24, 2007
5 56 Speak Clearly and Listen Well: Negating the Duty to Diversify Trust Investments
Jeffrey A. Cooper,
Quinnipiac University School of Law,
Date posted to database: August 10, 2007
Last Revised: August 23, 2007
6 30 Anna Nicole Smith and the Right to Control Disposition of the Dead
James T.R. Jones,
Louis D. Brandeis School of Law,
Date posted to database: June 28, 2007
Last Revised: August 2, 2007
7 28 Davenport: Res Judicata Applied
Wendy C. Gerzog,
University of Baltimore - School of Law,
Date posted to database: June 25, 2007
Last Revised: June 25, 2007

August 27, 2007 in Articles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rev. Jerry Falwell's Life Insurance Beneficiaries

FalwellRev. Jerry Falwell died in May 2007 leaving life insurance policies worth $34 million payable as follows:

      • $29 million to Liberty University, the school that Falwell founded, and
      • $5 million to the Thomas Road congregation.

See AP, Falwell's insurance pays off school debt, Chic. Trib., Aug. 24, 2007.

Special thanks to Raymond Sheffield (San Jose, CA) for bringing this development to my attention.

August 26, 2007 in Current Events, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)