Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Britany Spears' conservator forces fan website to close

Spears_BritanyJordan Miller operates two websites (www.BreatheHeavy.com and www.BritneyRes.com) devoted to his "inspiration," Britany Spears.  Britany's conservator, Jamie Spears, has requested that he close the websites because Mr. MIller is using her name and image for financial gain without her consent.

Mr. MIller has posted an extensive discussion of why he believes his actions are allowable (the money he makes from the websites is used to support website expenses) and that Jamie's actions are in response to Mr. Miller's opposition to Britany's conservatorship. 

March 28, 2009 in Current Events, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anna Nicole Smith's body disposition judge accused of elder abuse

Seidlin Judge Larry Seidlin who gained fame as the presiding judge over the hearing to determine the proper disposition of Anne Nicole Smith's body, is now under investigation for elder abuse.

Here are some details from Bob Norman, Judge Larry Under State Investigation After Elderly Abuse Complaint, New Times (Broward-Palm Beach), March 26, 2009: 

[T]he judge now faces a complaint of elderly abuse from the niece and caretaker of the elderly woman he has already been accused of financially exploiting.

Corine Kasler, who is in town visiting 83-year-old Barbara Kasler, says she filed a complaint against Seidlin on the state's Elderly Abuse Hotline today, saying she is "shocked" by the treatment her aunt has been given by the former judge, whom she describes as "evil." The new allegations include failing to feed and medicate Kasler for an extended period of time and endangering her health with poor care.

State investigators are already on the case and today are questioning witnesses at the Marine Towers on Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale, where both Kasler and Seidlin live. * * *

The judge was the subject of an elderly exploitation investigation last year by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office after this New Times article revealed the judge had convinced Kasler to give his family some hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts. Seidlin and Kasler were neighbors at the Marine Tower condos in Fort Lauderdale.

Assistant State Attorney Howard Rosen cleared Seidlin of wrongdoing, saying that Barbara Kasler willingly gave the gifts to Seidlin's family members, including his young daughter, Dax, his wife, Belinda, and her parents, Barbara and Oren Ray, who also live in the same building.

March 28, 2009 in Current Events, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 27, 2009

FLP victory for IRS -- but, taxpayer made it easy

FLPOn March 26, 2009, the Tax Court decided Estate of Jorgenson v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2009-66.  In this case, the court held that all assets of a family limited partnership were included in the decedent's estate -- a big victory for the IRS.

To read an excellent discussion of this case, see David Shulman, Estate of Jorgensen v. Commissioner: IRS wins another Family Limited Partnership Case due to the Taxpayer Doing Everything Wrong, South Florida Estate Planning Law Blog, March 27, 2009. 

March 27, 2009 in Estate Tax, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Yale fights to keep Night Cafe

Night_CafeYale graduate Stephen Carlton Clark, the founder of the Baseball Hall of Fame, left the Van Gogh painting entitled Night Cafe to Yale.

Now, a descendant (Pierre Konowaloff) of the original owner (Ivan Morozov) claims that the property was improperly taken from Ivan by the Russian government during the Communist revolution.

According to Ed Harris, Yale fights to keep Van Gogh masterpiece, Evening Standard, March 25, 2009:

The university says Mr Konowaloff has claimed ownership and has said he wants title transferred to the Russian state and to receive compensation. Mr Konowaloff claims the Soviet nationalisation of property was illegal, so title never passed from his great-grandfather, according to Yale.

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

March 27, 2009 in Current Events, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

AALS Section on Trusts and Estates Call For Papers for 2010 AALS Annual Meeting

AALSTrusts and Estates law was for centuries a fairly stable, if dusty, body of doctrine. Over the past few decades, however, striking changes in the economic, legal and social landscape have prompted an explosion of new doctrinal developments. Major trends in banking and tax law – including the gradual elimination of Glass-Steagall, which resulted in mergers of investment and commercial banking institutions and increased competition for trust business, and the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, which is set to expire next year -- spurred the development of dynasty and domestic asset protection trusts and significant changes in fiduciary duty law governing trustees’ management and investment duties. Banks’ demand for more predictability in law helped jump start a trend away from common law and toward codification, which produced the Uniform Trust Code and increasingly detailed revisions to the Uniform Probate Code. Cultural changes and scientific and medical advances caused states to grapple with their conception of family relationships, and with treatment of end-of-life issues.

The AALS section on Trusts and Estates issues a call for papers that evaluate and critique these and other trends and developments in Trusts and Estates Law. Those chosen will present papers at the 2010 AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans during a program entitled Changing Times, Changing Law: Evaluating Legal Trends in Trusts and Estates Law. To encourage greater participation and attendance, some preference will be given to academics who have not previously presented at the AALS Annual Meeting. Please submit papers by August 24, 2009 to Melanie Leslie at Leslie@yu.edu.

March 27, 2009 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anne Nicole Smith -- More evidence against her psychiatrist

EroshevichEarlier on this blog, I discussed that on March 12, 2009, Howard K. Stern (Anna Nicole Smith's partner and attorney) and her two doctors (Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich) were charged with 8 felonies which include a variety of drug related offenses including "prescribing, administering or dispensing a controlled substance to an addict."

Recently released photographs show Khristine Eroshevich snorting a white substance which could be cocaine. These pictures may be significant circumstantial evidence that Eroshevich was using drugs which could lead to homicide charges.

See Lawyer: Cocaine Scandal Photos Of Anna Nicole’s Doc a Prescription For Prison!, Radar Online, March 25, 2009. 

March 26, 2009 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Open-Air Cremation

Open_Air_CremationMany followers of the Hindu religion desire to have an open-air cremation rather than being cremated in a traditional crematorium. 

The ability of a person to have an open-air cremation is currently being debated in the United Kingdom.  Here are the basic facts of the case:

  • Kumar Ghai wants to assure that his desire to have an open-air cremation is carried out.
  • The Newcastle City Council indicated that it would not permit his son to dispose of Kumar's body in this manner claiming that it would violate the 1902 Cremation Act which requires cremation to be performed in a crematorium.
  • Kumar has appealed to the English High Court.
  • Kumar claims that the Cremation Act breaches his human rights and discriminates against him on the basis of race and religion.
  • There is evidence the open-air cremation have been performed before with the authorities turning a blind eye to the practice.

For a detailed discussion, see Jerome Taylor, The Big Question: Why do Hindus want open-air cremation, and should it be allowed?, The Independent, March 25, 2009.

March 26, 2009 in Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

If confessing on deathbed, be sure you are going to die!

Keep_mouth_shut James Brewer recently had a stoke and thought his days on this earth were few.  Accordingly, to "cleanse his soul," he confessed to a murder he committed over 30 years ago.

However, his estimate on his remaining days was wrong.  Instead of dying, he recovered and had to figure out what to do.  He and his wife sold everything they owned and fled.  But, later he surrendered to police and may now face the death penalty.

The "back story" is this -- he was arrested for killing a man in 1977 in Tennesee.  He thought that the man (Jimmy Carroll), his neighbor, was trying to seduce Dorothy, his wife.   He jumped bail and fled to Oklahoma where he and Dorothy began a new life which appears to have been a good one.

See Kunal Dutta, Stroke victim's 'deathbed' confession to 32-year-old murder proves premature, Independent World, March 24, 2009.

March 26, 2009 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Estate planning to protect the family vacation home

Forsberg_William William S. Forsberg (shareholder, Leonard Street and Deinard) has recently published his article entitled The Family Vacation Home: Keeping It in the Family is Hard to Do -- It's More About Cooperation Than Planning!, Prob. & Prop., March/April 2009, at 41.

Here is the conclusion of his article:

The family vacation home is often a cherished asset, and, if it is well managed and maintained, it can provide generation on generation with invaluable enjoyment and lasting memories.  Keeping it in the family, however, requires forethought, planning, and some well-heeled management and cooperation skills--especially the later.

The techniques discussed in the article include:

  • fee simple transfers
  • holding the vacation home in trust
  • holding the vacation home in an entity (partnership, FLP, S or C corporation, or LLC)

March 25, 2009 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Deferring estate taxes under IRC § 6166

Johnson_KimberlyTodryk_Amalia Kimberly Leach Johnson(partner, Naples office, Quarles & Brady LLP) & Amalia Levit Todryk(associate, Milwaukee office, Quarles & Brady LLP) have recently published their article entitled Planning for the Payment of Estate Taxes for Illiquid Estates Owning Real Estate -- The Code § 6166 Deferral, Prob. & Prop., March/April 209, at 33.

Here is an excerpt from their article:

A client with a taxable estate that consists largely of an interest in a closely held business that owns real estate needs to plan for liquidity or arrange the assets to take advantage of the Code § 6166 election to defer the payment of estate tax. * * * During these tough economic times and with the possibility the a new administration will increase estate tax rates and lower the estate tax exemption, advisors need to work with their clients to plan for the payment of estate taxes.  Borrowing money from a bank is not the option it used to be.  Code § 6166 is a tool that clients can take advantage of with proper planning.

March 25, 2009 in Articles, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)