Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Paralyzed Man Reportedly Trapped Inside Body for 23 Years

Rom-Houben--46-002A Belgium man reportedly spent 23 years trapped inside his paralyzed body until doctors discovered that he was conscious after a brain scan three years ago.  Now, using his right hand and a special touchscreen, the man has communicated that he could always hear what was going on around him but was unable to communicate this fact. 

See Kate Connolly, Trapped in his own body for 23 years - the coma victim who screamed unheard, Guardian, Nov. 23, 2009. 

November 27, 2009 in Current Events, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

CLE: Paying Estate Taxes With a Loan

CLEThe ABA section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law is sponsoring a teleconference and live audio webcast CLE entitled Black, White, and Grae(gin): Borrowing to Pay Estate Taxes on Dec. 8, 2009.  

Here is information about the program:

A "Graegin loan" is a popular option for estates that lack enough liquid assets to pay estate taxes and other expenses incurred during the administration of an estate. A Graegin loan is often utilized in estates of decedents whose major asset was an interest in a closely-held business. Instead of selling the business interests, the estate can borrow cash from the business in exchange for a promissory note. There are several potential advantages to borrowing money to pay estate taxes and other expenses of administration. This program will address the economics and mathematics of Graegin loans including: 

  • Financing and funding 
  • Liability and litigation 
  • Death and deductions 
  • Use and usury 
  • Administration and audit 
  • Regulations and re-financing

November 26, 2009 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

First Time Litigating in Probate Court?

Court Judge Gladys B. Burwell (Probate Court, Galveston County, Texas) has published her article entitled Suggestions for the First Time Litigator in Probate Court, The Advocate, Fall 2009, at 94. 

The following is an excerpt from the article:

The attorney coming to the probate court for the first time just needs to remember that the Rules of Civil Procedure apply to all cases and then they need to become familiar with the additional requirements of the Probate Code, and most particularly, in what court their case will be tried. 

November 26, 2009 in Articles, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

House to Vote on Estate Tax Legislation

Estat taxThe House of Representatives is scheduled to vote next week on the estate tax bill introduced by Rep. Pomeroy (D-ND).  As previously discussed, this bill would make the current estate tax rate and exemption amount permanent.  

Although this bill is backed by President Obama, "there are enough opponents of the Pomeroy bill to block action in the Senate."  Martin Vaughan, US House To Vote On Permanent Estate Tax Bill Next Week, Dow Jones Newswires, Nov. 25, 2009. 

Special thanks to Hani Sarji (LL.M in Tax candidate at New York Law School) for brining this to my attention. 

November 26, 2009 in Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Guardianship Litigation Fundamentals

Legal Don D. Ford III has published his article entitled Fundamental Issues to Understand Before Accepting a Guardianship Litigation Engagement, The Advocate, Fall 2009, at 77.

An excerpt from the article is below:

Among other things, a litigator engaged in guardianship litigation should understand how a guardianship is properly initiated, who has proper standing to participate in the proceeding, the importance of the Doctor's Letter, and the role of the ad litems in the process.  Additionally, because of the financial/fiduciary issues involved in guardianships of an estate, guardianship litigators must understand the stringent accounting and reporting requirements imposed on guardians each year.  These accounting requirements and the financial issues related thereto breed significant litigation issues, which can result in personal liability not only for the guardian but also for the judge presiding over the case. 

November 25, 2009 in Articles, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!!

November 25, 2009 in About This Blog | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Lasting Impact of Suicide

DovesI've posted a number of blogs covering assisted suicide but few regarding the potential impacts of a suicide.   The following, taken from Colleen Mastony, Witnesses to suicide: A man takes his life, and those who see it are forever haunted, Chicago Tribune, Nov. 15, 2009, recounts the aftermath of the suicide of a 23-year old man in Chicago:

[T]he many strangers who witnessed his death still wonder who he was and why he chose to die. For weeks they posted messages to an online news comment board, sharing their questions, their sympathy and shock. Their lives, they say, will never be the same.

One man makes a point of telling his children that he loves them before he hangs up the phone. A doctor spends extra time with a patient who seems sad. An 11-year-old boy goes to bed praying for "the man under the blanket."

November 25, 2009 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Passing Retirement Plan Assets

Retirement A recent Wall Street Journal article discusses the basics of passing retirement plan assets after death, covering the following:

  • The use of beneficiary designation forms to pass the retirement plan assets to chosen loved one.
  • The benefit of leaving retirement plan assets to a trust for the benefit of loved ones who can't manage the assets.
  • The role a durable power of attorney may play for a beneficiary spouse who later becomes incapacitated.

See Kelly Greene, How to Hand Down Assets in Retirement Plans, WSJ, Nov. 21, 2009.

Special thanks to Patrick S. Sylvester (Attorney & Counselor at Law, Sylvester Law Firm, PC) for bringing this article to my attention.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Estate of Just For Feet CEO in Accounting Dispute

Justforfeet The probate court of Alabama is currently hearing an accounting dispute over the Estate of Harold Ruttenberg, former CEO of Just for Feet.  The personal representatives of the estate seek approval of their actions and over $15 million dollars in their petition for final settlement.  Two Ruttenberg estate beneficiaries contest the claimed expenses, asserting that money was misappropriated in violation of Alabama Code and that a conflict of interest among lawyers essentially caused the estate to overpay on a $15 million settlement agreement.

In re Estate of Harold Ruttenberg, Probate Court of Jefferson Country, Alabama.

November 24, 2009 in Current Events, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Creditor Claims Process in Texas Probate Courts

Court Gus Tamborello (attorney, Houston) has published his article entitled Creditor Claims in Independent and Dependent Administrations in Texas-Beware of the Trap Doors!, The Advocate, Fall 2009, at 49.

 The following is the introduction to the article:

Handling creditor claims in Texas probate court is a bit like creeping through a haunted house-- confusing and downright scary.  The Texas Probate Court sections pertaining to creditor claims are often the most misapplied and misunderstood statutes in the probate process. At first blush, there appears to be no rational organization or specific applicability to an independent or dependent administration.  Hence, a clear understanding of the creditor claims process is imperative if we are to guide our clients who are personal representatives, creditors, and beneficiaries through this frightening maze unscathed.

November 24, 2009 in Articles, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)