Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Estate of Lucien Freud Pays Inheritance Tax in Art

ArtThe works of one of the most prestigious living British artists were put on display Tuesday at the Tate Britain. The collection, an intimate catalog of pieces by eighty-three year old Frank Auerbach, which includes sketches, birthday cards, and compilations from his early years, were owned by Lucien Freud, a friend of Auerbach's. Freud, who had formerly had the pieces on display in his home in London, died three years ago. The Arts Council England took possession of the collection instead of the Government collecting inheritance tax.

See Miranda Bryant, Treasured by a Friend: Lucian Freud’s Auerbach Works on Show at Tate Britain, London Evening Standard, Aug. 26, 2014.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 28, 2014 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chart on Florida Probate Deadlines

Gavel2For guidance on the deadlines for various probate filings in Florida, see this chart by D.W. Craig Dreyer.

See Craig Dreyer, Deadlines and Timelines in Florida Probate, Clark Skatoff, Aug. 27, 2014.

August 28, 2014 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Resource Links | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Defense of Wisconsin and Indiana Same-Sex Marriage Bans Gets Heated

RingsAs I have previously discussed, the rulings that struck down Wisconsin’s and Indiana’s same-sex marriage bans are being jointly appealed to the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court heard oral arguments earlier this week from both sides, and over 200 people waited in line in hopes to hear the arguments. Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson argued that the ban was supported by tradition, which prompted Judge Richard Posner to liken the argument to that of previous bans on marriage between interracial couples. Attorneys for the ACLU and national gay rights advocate group Lambda Legal argued that the bans violate equal protection because same-sex couples are denied legal benefits, which are available to straight couples.

See  Associated Press, Judges Blast Ind., Wis. Gay Marriage Bans, USA Today, Aug. 26, 2014.

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 28, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article on Defining Duties of the Trustee’s Delegates

William EcholsWilliam S. Echols (J.D. Candidate, Texas Tech University School of Law, May 2015) recently published a comment entitled, Action in the Chasm: Defining Duties of the Trustee’s Delegates, Estate Planning and Community Property Law Journal, Vol. 6 Bk. 2, Summer 2014. Provided below is the introduction of the comment:

The first question begged by the title, is “what is a chasm?” The answer to that, within the confines of this Comment, is the space that either legislative of judicial action leaves undefined. The specific chasm in this piece is that of the duties owed by a person to whom the trustee delegates fiduciary authority. In most instances, this will be an agent of the trust, whose duties to the beneficiaries are undefined by the contract or the trust instrument, which makes the agent’s liability an open question. This question of liability is an area that remains unanswered by the judiciary and substantially so by legislatures as well.

August 28, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Estate Planning Considerations for Couples with Age Gaps


Large age gaps between spouses can present unique estate planning issues.  The recent coverage of actress Lauren Bacall’s death has highlighted her marriage to Humphrey Bogart, who was twenty-five years her senior.  The couple had two young children, and “Bogie,” passed away in 1957 from esophageal cancer.  Bacall’s loss of her husband points to some of the issues surviving spouses face when there is an age difference between spouses.  “In these marriages there is a strong statistical likelihood that one spouse will survive the other by many years, or even decades . . . when the husband is the older spouse, the estate planning concerns are even more pronounced as women tend to live longer than men.  Also, in some cases women pull back on their career path to raise children—particularly if the man is older and the higher earner.”  If proper planning and communication is not in place, resentments can ensue.  

The best estate plans are ones that do not shy away from difficult issues that not only affect the surviving spouse, but also take the surviving children into consideration.  In many instances, these children are from different marriages and could be close in age to the new younger spouse.  This can create crosscurrents and drama in the extended spouse, particularly in terms of what will happen with the estate. 

While there is no cookie-cutter way to configure an estate, an effective tool is a QTIP Trust.  This allows the surviving spouse to set aside assets in trust while she is alive, but then pass them to the children of the older spouse at her later death.  If enough assets exist, trusts for children can be created and funded while the older spouse is still alive. 

See Annika Ferris Cushnie, Bogie and Bacall: Iconic May-December Romance, Market Watch, Aug. 27, 2014.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 27, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Look Into Inheritance Demographics


According to a 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances, the median inheritance for Americans is about $69,000.  Yet an eye opening study from Maury Gittleman and Edward N. Wolff examined the prosperity of households between 1989 – 2007, and found the most likely Americans to inherit were those who needed it the least.  On average, 38 percent of households earning $250,000 a year or more received an inheritance compared with only 17 percent of households with an income of $15,000 or less.  Furthermore, the study indicated that wealthier households are not more likely to inherit and they receive larger sums. 

Racial and ethnic differences were widespread as well.  Twenty-five percent of non-Hispanic whites said they had received an inheritance in 2007, but 10 percent of African-Americans and 6 percent of Hispanics said the same.  These gaps have stayed constant since 1989. 

While it may be true that inheritance and other transfers have a sizable effect on reducing the inequality of wealth, this is just one study.  There are other studies in the U.K. and Paris that have reached different conclusions.  Moreover, inheritors may not be receiving wealth in the form of cash.  Businesses and homes are also common inheritances not provided for in this study.

See Mona Chalabi, A Dear Mona Follow-Up: Who Inherits? FiveThirtyEight, Aug. 26, 2014. 

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

August 27, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anna Nicole Smith's Twenty Year Battle Finally Ends

Anna nicole

After nearly twenty years of contentious debate in the courtroom, a federal judge recently ruled Anna Nicole Smith’s estate would not receive millions of dollars from the estate of E. Pierce Marshall, the son of Anna Nicole’s late husband, J. Howard Marshall II.

Judge Carter ruled that there was “just no evidence before the court that justifies awarding sanctions against Pierce Marshall’s estate.”  The judge further added it is time for this suit to no longer “drag its weary length before the court.”

After Howard Marshall II died in 1995, he left his $1.6 billion estate to his son and nothing to Smith.  According to NBC news, Smith asserted her husband vowed to leave her more than $300 million; yet, a Houston jury ruled that Marshall was mentally fit when he wrote the will.  Over the course of twenty years, local and federal courts have rejected Smith’s attempts to overturn Marshall’s will and trust in order to obtain money from his estate. 

See Mike Vulpo and Claudia Rosenbaum, Anna Nicole Smith’s Estate Denied Again: Judge Says Dannielynn Birkhead Won’t Receive $44 Million, E News, Aug. 20, 2014. 

August 27, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Book: Can You Trust Your Trust?

Trust Your Trust

ABA Publishing has released an innovative new book by Seymour Goldberg entitled, Can You Trust Your Trust?  This book is written in an accessible and practical manner, and is easily comprehensible.  It is an indispensable resource for anyone looking to use a trustee or is involved with trusts and estate planning.  Further details are provided below:

A trust is frequently seen as the alter ego of a will. Trusts are often worthwhile but can be nightmares if improperly administered. As a result of the revamping of state trust laws in many states, trustees often find themselves with more questions than they were ever prepared for, without easily discernible answers, such as:

  • Are there ever occasions where I shouldn’t provide for a long-term trust?
  • How do I know if I can trust my trust?
  • What should I look out for? 
  • What should I look for when selecting an institutional trustee to administer my trust?
  • What trustee liability issues should I be aware of?

All of these questions and more should be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not it makes sense for you to provide for trusts in your estate plans.

August 27, 2014 in Books, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The World’s Seven Best Retirement Locations

BeachAccording to the 2014 Retire Overseas Index, 1.4 million Americans are choosing to retire overseas. Here are the seven best retirement locations in the world, based on cost-of-living, climate, healthcare, crime statistics, and other quality of life criteria:

  1. The Algarve, Portugal
  2. Cuenca, Ecuador
  3. George Town, Malaysia
  4. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  5. Dumaguete, Philippines
  6. Pau, France
  7. Medellin, Colombia

See Richard Eisenberg, The 7 Best Places to Retire Around the World, Forbes, Aug. 25, 2014.

August 27, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Will of Woman Murdered During Vacation in Bali Filed in Cook County

WillTwo weeks ago, the body of Sheila von Wiese-Mack from Chicago was found in Bali, and her daughter and daughter’s boyfriend may be charged with her murder. Last week, a will of Wiese-Mack, signed Aug. 1, 2006, was filed in a Cook County court. However, it is still unclear who will inherit from Wiese-Mack’s estate, as the will leaves her property to a trust without naming the beneficiary in the will.

See Jon Seidel, Will of Chicago Mother Slain in Bali Filed in Court, Chicago Sun-Times, Aug. 25, 2014.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 27, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)