Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

No Rush to Determine Prince's Heirs

Prince5The Minnesota judge overseeing Prince’s estate is in no hurry to determine the heirs to Prince’s $300 million fortune. His sister, five half-siblings, and several others have laid claim to a cut of his fortune. On Monday, there was a hearing to decide the methodology for determining heirs, and the judge noted that this could be a long process with potential legal guidance being sought from a higher court.

See Judge in ‘No Hurry’ to Determine Prince’s Heir in $300 Million Estate Case, Fox News, June 27, 2016.

June 28, 2016 in Current Events, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on the Girard Will & Two Major Supreme Court Decisions

Girard collegeSteven P. Brown recently published an Article entitled, The Girard Will and Twin Landmarks of Supreme Court History, 41 J. Sup. Ct. Hist. 7–20 (2016). Provided below is an introduction to the Article:

In June 2013, the trustees of Girard College announced drastic changes in the operations of the boarding school that had served the poor children of Philadelphia since 1848. Looming financial concerns, they said, necessitated the elimination of the school's secondary education and boarding programs. While distressing to students and their families as well as to Girard's staff, the announcement received relatively little notice outside of Pennsylvania. The school's difficulties were simply not that unique given the nationwide economic struggles wrought by the recession of 2008, and there was little else about Girard to commend itself to the national media. That, however, was not always the case.

From its controversial founding as part of a bequest from one of the richest men ever to live in America, to its mission to care for the “poor, white, male” children of Philadelphia, Girard College has been the focal point of national attention before. Much of that interest derived from state and federal litigation involving the school, including two major Supreme Court decisions dealing with questions of religion and race. Arising out of the same bequest, but separated by more than a century, these rulings link the Taney and Warren Courts as well as the antebellum and civil rights eras. They also garnered for Girard College the distinction, as the New York Times put it (and with reference to the school's Greek Revival design), as “a landmark of judicial as well as architectural history.”

June 28, 2016 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sacramento County Reports a Surge of Elder Financial Abuse

Elder financial abuseReports of elder financial abuse in Sacramento County surged to 72% as the public gained awareness of this type of crime and the baby boomer population increased. Technology has made it easier to take advantage of victims with declining mental and physical fitness. Sacramento County, however, reinstated their financial abuse unit in January 2015, hoping to alleviate the problem. The unit’s social workers have developed expertise in the financial abuse area and will have handled approximately 150 cases since June 2015. 

See Brad Branan, Reports of Elder Financial Abuse Surge in Sacramento County, Sacramento Bee, June 25, 2016.

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

June 27, 2016 in Current Events, Elder Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on the Interface Between Marijuana and Estate Planning

Puff the magic dragonGerry W. Beyer & Brooke Dacus recently published an Article entitled, Puff, the Magic Dragon, and the Estate Planner, 3 Tex. A&M U.J. Prop. L. 1 (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

With the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in almost half of the states, practitioners need to be aware of interface between marijuana and estate planning. This article provides a discussion of the major issues that arise. After bringing readers up-to-date with the history of legalized marijuana, the article focuses on how marijuana use may impact a user’s capacity to execute a will and other estate planning documents. The article then examines other estate planning concerns such as will and trust provisions conditioning benefits on the non-use of “illegal drugs” and the impact of marijuana use on life insurance policies. The article wraps up with a discussion of how an estate planner may deal with marijuana-based assets when planning an estate and how to value those assets after the owner has died.

June 27, 2016 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judge Rules No Media Allowed in Prince's Upcoming Probate Hearing

Prince19The judge overseeing Prince’s estate case will not allow media company attorneys to intervene in the upcoming hearing. He denied the media’s request for the Monday probate hearing to determine inheritance rights but left open the possibility for later access. With suspenseful paternity questions waiting to be addressed, several documents were filed under seal. The balance between the public’s right to access and confidentiality presents several legal questions for the rest of the battle over Prince’s $300 million estate.

See Prince Estate Judge: No Cameras at Monday Hearing, USA Today, June 25, 2016.

June 27, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on "Remedial" Constructive Trusts

Remedial constructive trustYing Khai Liew recently published an Article entitled, Reanalysing Institutional and Remedial Constructive Trusts, Cambridge L.J. (Forthcoming 2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

It is often said that English law does not impose “remedial” constructive trusts because it is manifestly inappropriate and fundamentally unjustified to impose trusts through the exercise of judicial discretion and with retrospective effect. This paper observes the definitional deficiencies in this understanding, and reanalyses constructive trusts in terms of the rights which they give effect to. This understanding reveals that English law sets its face against the exercise of discretion in relation only to some “remedial” constructive trusts and not others, and that the perceived difficulties with remedial constructive trusts are often exaggerated. It ends by noting some crucial implications of the reanalysis for the future development of the law.

June 27, 2016 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Same-Sex Marriages Triple Four Years After Supreme Court Victory

Gay marriageLGBT Americans are rushing to the alter more than ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling four years ago, forcing the federal government to recognize same-sex marraige. In fact, a survey found that the percentage of married LGBT respondents was more than triple from 2012. The percentage of LGBT respondents with children has also grown—from 23% to 36% for lesbians and from 7% to 15% for gay men.

The main focus of the study was the “LGBT financial experience.” LGBT couples used to face discrimination in areas like taxes, estate planning, and retirement planning. Many of these problems have been resolved by recognizing same-sex unions.

See Ben Steverman, Gay Marriages Triple After Four Years of Victories, Bloomberg, June 24, 2016.

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

June 26, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Ilott v. Mitson & the Inheritance Act of 1975

Inheritance actBrian Sloan recently published an Article entitled, The ‘Disinherited’ Daughter and the Disapproving Mother, U. Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 24/2016 (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This paper is a case note on Ilott v Mitson [2015] EWCA Civ 797. The judgment concerns the appropriate remedy following a successful claim by an estranged adult daughter under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The charities who were named in the mother’s will have been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

June 26, 2016 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Daughter-in-Law's Perspective on Her Dying Mother-in-Law

EllenWith looming imminent kidney failure, Ellen does not expect to live much longer, but she is as active in her death as she was throughout her life. She does not want to subject herself to life-sustaining treatments and makes this clear to those that are managing her care.

Her daughter-in-law writes the Article from her perspective, and eventually lets the reader know that she does not agree with the death plan her mother-in-law has put into place. It is hard to comprehend someone’s reasoning when you want them to stick around for many more of life’s events. She soon realizes, however, to help Ellen reach her goal of a peaceful end is what matters most.

See Cindy Schweich Handler, I Didn’t Like It, but This Was the Death She Chose, Washington Post, June 20, 2016.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

June 25, 2016 in Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0)

Common Will-Substitutes Used in England and Wales

English willsAlexandra Braun recently published an Article entitled, Will-Substitutes in England and Wales, Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 39/2016 (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Will-substitutes, that is to say mechanisms that are functionally equivalent to wills, are very common in the US, where much of the wealth is transferred on death by means other than wills, and thus outside traditional probate procedures. The purpose of this chapter is to investigate whether this is the case also in England and Wales.

This chapter explores some of the most common mechanisms used, the rationale behind their use, as well as the consequences that arise from their proliferation. In doing so, it considers will-substitutes from different perspectives, including those of creditors and family members and dependants. It argues that the current state of the law in England and Wales is unsatisfactory and that it is time for a debate involving non-probate transfers and their relationship with current succession laws.

June 25, 2016 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)