Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, December 31, 2007

Ken Kemper's dogs benefit from his will

Three dogs, Buckshot, Katie, and Obu-Jet, are benefiting from the estate of their deceased owner, Ken Kemper, worth approximately $800,000 ($400,000 in cash and a house in Hagerstown, Maryland).

The dogs live in the house with their caregiver, Roy Grady.  The dogs receive excellent care including once a week spaghetti dinners and top-notch veterinarian care.

The executor of Ken's estate is his Karin Anderson and she says that after the dogs die, she will donate the rest of Ken's property to an animal charity.

See AP, 3 Md. dogs enjoy $800,000 inheritance, Yahoo! News, Dec. 29, 2007.

Special thanks to Jeffrey A. Cooper (Associate Professor of Law, Quinnipiac University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

For more information about pet trusts and related matters, see Estate Planning for Pet Owners.

December 31, 2007 in Wills | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Hugh Massingberd, aka Massivesnob, Dies

MassingberdOn December 25, 2007 at the age of 60, Hugh Massingberd, one of the world's greatest obituary writers, died of cancer.

Here is an excerpt from his obituary as provided in The Times, Dec. 27, 2007:

To outward appearance there was no stouter opponent of the classless society than Hugh Massingberd. Nicknamed “Massivesnob” by Private Eye, he edited for 15 years from the late 1960s such monuments to the feudal system as Burke’s Landed Gentry, Burke’s Royal Families of the World and Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage. Then, as obituaries editor of The Daily Telegraph from 1986 to 1994 he gave prominent coverage to the lives of fainéant aristocrats and blimpish military men.

Yet though his fogeyish reverence for English tradition, and those families who had moulded it, was genuine, his was not an uncritical eye. While at Burke’s publications, he had enlivened what were customarily rather moribund and respectful tomes with a piquant seasoning of anecdote gathered from centuries of lordly eccentricity and dissipation. * * *

It has somehow become accepted wisdom that those obituaries printed during Massingberd’s subsequent eight-year tenure revolutionised the genre. This is to overstate the case. Certainly they were more lively, and often more caustic, than had been the case in the Telegraph of old. * * *

Where he differed from other obituary writers was in the latitude he was given to indulge his novelistic delight in the foibles of the human condition — sometimes to the point of self-parody, often to the frustration of Hastings — and in the almost inexhaustible fund of knowledge he had accumulated over the years about the antecedents and proclivities of the nobility and squirearchy (as well as those of minor showbusiness personalities), which he was now able to display to advantage.

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

December 31, 2007 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Top SSRN Downloads

Ssrn_2 Here are the top downloads from November 1, 2007 to December 31, 2007 from the SSRN Journal of Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law for all papers announced in the last 60 days:

Rank Downloads Paper Title
1 340 Federal Tax Update: Important Developments in Federal Income, Estate & Gift Taxation Affecting Individuals - August, 2006 to August, 2007
Samuel A. Donaldson,
University of Washington - School of Law,
Date posted to database: October 19, 2007
Last Revised: October 19, 2007
2 96 The Fiduciary Accountability of Ordinary Employees
Robert Flannigan,
University of Saskatchewan,
Date posted to database: October 15, 2007
Last Revised: December 19, 2007
3 74 Shrinking Boomer Social Security Retirement Benefits
Francine J. Lipman,
Chapman University - School of Law,
Date posted to database: November 16, 2007
Last Revised: November 21, 2007
4 68 Dealing with Postdeath Events
Wendy C. Gerzog,
University of Baltimore - School of Law,
Date posted to database: November 8, 2007
Last Revised: November 8, 2007
5 61 Valuing Art in an Estate
Wendy C. Gerzog,
University of Baltimore - School of Law,
Date posted to database: November 8, 2007
Last Revised: November 8, 2007
6 48 Taxation of the New Era 'Family Unit'
Lester B. Snyder,
University of San Diego School of Law,
Date posted to database: November 9, 2007
Last Revised: November 13, 2007
7 32 Conservation Easements: Perpetuity and Beyond
Nancy A. McLaughlin,
University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law,
Date posted to database: December 12, 2007
Last Revised: December 12, 2007 

December 31, 2007 in Articles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

James Brown Update

Brown4The saga surrounding the estate of James Brown, who died last year on Christmas Day, continues.

The following is from AP, James Brown's Children Challenge Will, Dec. 30, 2007:

Five of James Brown's children say their late father's will should be invalidated because his former advisers used undue influence to get him to create charitable trusts that the advisers would profit from, according to court documents filed this week.

The children were largely left out of the financial portion of the will, which leaves the bulk of the soul singer's money to trusts set up to educate Brown's grandchildren and needy kids.

Atlanta attorney Louis Levenson said the children discovered earlier wills drafted by their father that cast doubt on whether he truly wanted to leave his estate to charity.

"There was sporadic indication that Mr. Brown intended to benefit some charities, but the circumstances surrounding the making of these documents have always been clouded in mystery," Levenson said.

Five Brown children are challenging the will in Aiken County Probate Court. They claim Brown's longtime advisers Buddy Dallas, Alford Bradley and David Cannon convinced the soul singer to create the trusts so the advisers would profit from managing the two charities after Brown died.

Dallas denied the allegations and called attempts to void the will "an act of desperation."

"No one told James Brown what to do," Dallas said, adding that if he were going to use his influence to benefit himself, "I would have just influenced him into giving me something."

Special thanks to Neda Jahansouz and Sara Hudman (J.D. Candidates, Texas Tech University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

December 30, 2007 in Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kindness Pays Off for Luby's Waitress

Walter "Buck" Swords died in July 2007 at 89 years of age.  The terms of his will were recently released and Melina Salazar, a Luby's waitress, learned that she is the recipient of a $50,000 bequest and a 2000 Buick automobile.

For approximately seven years, Melina had regularly waited on Buck at a Harlingen, Texas Luby's cafeteria.  Melina "did her best to put on a smile and tend to the every need of her most loyal and cantankerous customer" even though he was, in her words, "kind of mean." 

Melina says she made certain his food was hot and smiled even though Buck made demands upon her and even swore at her.

It does seem, however, that Buck certainly did appreciated Melina's kindness.

See AP, Man leaves $50,000, car to waitress, Dec. 28, 2007.

Special thanks to Sara Hudman, Melanie Casner, and Rickie Cayton (J.D. Candidates, Texas Tech University School of Law) as well Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this story to my attention.

December 30, 2007 in Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Should the Attorney General Have the Sole Power Over Charitable Trusts?

Craig Kaufman  (J.D. Temple University Beasley School of Law, M.B.A. Temple University Fox School of Business & Management) has published his article entitled Sympathy for the Devil's Advocate: Assisting the Attorney General When Charitable Matters Reach the Courtroom, 40 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 705 (2006).

Here is an excerpt from the introduction to his article:

Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and a passionate philanthropist, has argued that “you have to work just as hard at giving away your money as you do at making it.” While Mr. Gates may be correct, state attorneys general may face an even more daunting task because, with few exceptions, only the state attorneys general have standing to enforce the terms of a charitable gift. Existing charitable trust principles further complicate the attorney general's charitable enforcement obligations. These rules deny donors standing to enforce the terms of their gifts yet vest state attorneys general with broad statutory and common law powers to oversee charitable obligations.***

This Article illustrates that while attorney general involvement in charitable trust litigation may be necessary to provide representation of the general public interest, delegating exclusive authority for the public supervision of charities to the attorney general is inappropriate to ensure that the intent of the donor is being followed. Part II of this Article provides historical and substantive background in the area of charitable trust administration and also introduces the inherent problems with exclusive attorney general oversight of charities. Part III argues that the role of the attorney general as parens patriae of charities is so inadequately defined that courts should allow the intervention of parties with a “special interest,” or appoint a trustee ad litem, to supplement the attorney general in its parens patriae role in certain situations.

December 29, 2007 in Articles, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Private Mausoleum Construction Boom

HudsonThe following excerpts are from Tania deLuzuriaga, A place to die for, Boston Globe, Dec. 5, 2007:

[Thomas R. Hudson, Jr. has constructed on the] grassy hillside at Blue Hill Cemetery, [a] 400-square-foot Roman Doric structure * * * constructed of 450,000 pounds of Vermont granite featur[ing] 17-foot high cathedral ceilings, brass doors, and a stained glass depiction of The Last Supper. Flanked by hand-carved stone lions and set amid shrubbery, it is the biggest, most ornate memorial in sight. Some say it may be the most elaborate to be built in a Boston-area cemetery since the industrial barons erected monuments to their wealth nearly a century ago. Family members jokingly call it "The Inn." (There's room for everybody.)

Private mausoleums and columbaria, for cremated remains, are enjoying a revival among the rich, local grave archivists and cemetery administrators say. They point to recent additions like one at Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett built by Somerville lawyer Frank Privitera Sr. featuring a stone gazebo and a crypt, another mausoleum that was completed this year at Blue Hill Cemetery, and one built this year in Newton Cemetery. But the massive Hudson edifice is the one generating buzz in cemetery circles.

Special thanks to Kent Schenkel (Associate Professor, New England School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

December 28, 2007 in Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Posthumous Stories

Here are some interesting posthumous stories from Robert L. Moshman, Posthumous Disturbances, Est. Analyst (Dec. 2007):

KING SOLOMON, 2007: In a case of first impression, Judge Musmanno of the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that trial courts have the authority to divide cremated remains among next of kin, but that the trial court abused its discretion where the father of a deceased child objected to such division. The divorced parents of the child could not agree on where the ashes are to be buried.

A DIAMOND was to be made from the cremated ashes of a 19-year-old German woman's father until the girl's 86-year-old grandmother took legal action. The Wiesbaden district court said, “The daughter of the deceased could not provide sufficient proof that it was his final wish to be pressed into a diamond.”***

GREENHOUSE GASES such as carbon dioxide that are released by cremation contribute to global warming, warned Australian scientist Robert Short this year. He recommends burial in a cardboard box under a tree as the most environmentally favorable approach.***

December 28, 2007 in Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Current Issues in Marital Property Law CLE

LormanLorman Education Services is sponsoring a seminar on January 8, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas entitled Current Issues in Marital Property Law.

Here is a summary of the program:

Attend this cutting-edge seminar and get helpful strategies on premarital agreements. You'll gain a clear understanding of qualified domestic relationship orders. Meet the challenges ahead and find out what you need to know about debtors' and creditors' rights and remedies, as well as military retirement. These are just a few of the valuable tips we'll discuss at this must-attend seminar. You'll acquire the shrewd wisdom and good judgment necessary to succeed - no matter what challenges arise. Don't miss this opportunity to learn to navigate the complex and changing issues surrounding marital property law.

In One Day, You'll Learn To:

  • Understand obtaining and granting credit
  • Master marriage agreements
  • Interpret the effect of a divorce on qualified benefits
  • Divide retirement plans so that your client gets his or her fair share
  • Explore the elements for a valid qualified domestic relationship order
  • Read a leave and earnings statement when handling military retirement issues

December 28, 2007 in Conferences & CLE | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Only a few days left to make annual exclusion gifts for 2007

Irs2The following reminder is from Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, Year-End Wealth Transfer Opportunity – Annual Exclusion Gifts (Dec. 27, 2007):

Estate planners often recommend complex and highly technical estate planning techniques to their clients for a variety of reasons not the least of which are tax minimization and creditor protection. However, clients should not overlook a very simple yet significant way in which to transfer substantial wealth to family members through direct gifts that take full advantage of the annual exclusion from gift taxes. The annual exclusion amount is currently set at $12,000.

December 27, 2007 in Estate Tax, Gift Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)