Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Sunday, January 29, 2017

David Bowie's Handwritten Lyrics Hit the Auction Block

Jean genieAnyone now days can download David Bowie’s music, but how many can get their hands on his handwritten lyrics? A year after his death, the late singer’s handwritten lyrics to “The Jean Genie” are up for grabs. Not only will the lucky bidder get a piece of music history, but the package also includes pictures from the 1970s and 80s—even one with John Lennon—and a record from Bowie’s recording sessions for “Hunky Dory.” The auctioneer estimates the memorabilia to sell for around $50,000, which sounds about right considering Tupac’s lyric page sold for $40,000.  

See David Bowie: Get His ‘Genie’ Handwriting if Ya Got an Extra $50,000!, TMZ, January 28, 2017. 


January 29, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Section 1022 Lives On After 2010

Section 1022In 2010, those who died got significant tax breaks. The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 eliminated the estate tax for Americans dying in 2010. The Act also enacted IRC § 1022, which modified the carryover basis system, offsetting the tax benefits of the estate tax elimination. However, another act quickly reinstated the estate tax for those dying in 2010, but the decedent could still elect for the modified basis rule of § 1022 in that year only. Recently, on January 19, 2017, the IRS released new regulations for repealed § 1022, noting that this section will still be relevant until all the property bequeathed from a decedent in 2010 is sold or disposed of. The new regulations include references to § 1022 whenever basis is referenced and conform to its mandate when necessary.   

See Beth L. Fox, Dead, but Not Forgotten, Wealth Management, January 27, 2017. 

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


January 29, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore's Family Pays a Pretty Penny for Her Gravesite

Mary tylerMary Tyler Moore’s family has paid for her to rest completely alone. The family bought twelve gravesites for $24,000, creating peace for Moore and making a statement about her importance. Right now, there are plans to border the gravesite in granite and display angel statutes, which has a value of around $200,000. Moore’s final resting place will be in Fairfield, Connecticut, the place she called home.   

See Mary Tyler Moore 6 Figure Burial, TMZ, January 28, 2017. 


January 28, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Will the Estate Tax Really Be Repealed This Year?

Estate tax eliminationA top estate tax attorney predicts that the estate tax will not be repealed this year, despite promises of its demise from President Trump. Ending or altering a tax brings great complexity, and many Trump voters are not rich enough to care about the estate tax. Further, Trump’s new leadership in the Treasury Department and IRS will not significantly impact estate planning because career IRS employees, who are not political appointees, write most of those laws.   

See Ted Knutson, Estate Tax Won’t Be Repealed This Year, Predicts Top Estate Tax Attorney, Financial Advisor, January 26, 2017. 

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


January 28, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Actor Opens His Home to Elderly Neighbor Battling Cancer

Cook apartmentA young actor is being praised after opening his doors to a sick, elderly neighbor who needed full-time care. Chris Salvatore struck up a friendship with Norma Cook while living across the hall from each other in a Hollywood apartment building. Cook was diagnosed with leukemia, and the doctors told her she could not be released until she had 24/7 health care in place. After hearing this, Salvatore set up a GoFundMe page and raised $50,000, enough to let Cook and her cat live with him and stay in the building she had felt comfort in over the last several decades. 

See 31-Year-Old Actor Opens Home to Elderly Neighbor Battling Cancer, Fox News, January 27, 2017. 


January 27, 2017 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Book on Law & Taxation of Charitable Gift Planning

VpgRussell James III recently published a book entitled, Visual Planned Giving: An Introduction to the Law & Taxation of Charitable Gift Planning (2017). Provided below is a summary of the book:

This book provides an introductory overview of the wide range of charitable gift planning topics with implications for income, capital gain, gift, estate and generation skipping transfer taxation, including elements of a gift, documentation requirements, valuation rules, income limitations, bargain sales, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, remainder interest deeds with retained life estate in homes and farms, life insurance, gifts of retirement assets, private foundations, and donor advised funds.


January 27, 2017 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anna Nicole Smith Judge Finally Relieved from Billionaire's Estate Dispute

Judge mike woodOver the past twenty years, a legal battle has ensued over the estate of late billionaire J. Howard Marshall all on the docket of Judge Mike Wood, or as some might know him the “Anna Nicole Smith” judge. Anna Nicole was married to the elderly billionaire briefly before he passed and afterward sought a piece of his fortune. Judge Wood, however, awarded it all to Marshall’s son. Upon the death of his son, in 2015, Marshall’s grandson filed a separate action, requesting access to the family trusts. The litigation seemingly had no end. In fact, during a hearing, in which the grandson filed a last-minute restraining order against his mother, Judge Wood stated, “I beg you to rescue me. I don’t want to deal with you people anymore.” On January 24, Judge Wood relieved himself of the case by granting a mandamus relief, which voided the restraining order, and passed the case on to a new judge in probate court. The judge ultimately claimed that the case was holding himself and his staff hostage, not allowing them to accomplish anything else. 

See John Council, ‘I Beg You to Rescue Me’: Anna Nicole Smith Judge Finally Gets His Wish, Law.com, January 26, 2017. 


January 27, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judy Garland's Remains Moved from New York to Hollywood

Judy garlandJudy Garland died in 1969, and ever since, she has rested in a mausoleum in Hartsdale, New York. However, last week, her remains were removed from the cemetery and placed on a flight to Los Angeles, California. Garland’s body will be interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in the Beth Olam section, reserved for Jewish people, at the request of her daughter, Liza Minnelli. It is still unclear why Minnelli is ordering the move nearly half a century after her mom’s death.  

See Judy Garland Body Moved from New York Meet Me in Hollywood, TMZ, January 27, 2017. 


January 27, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Kurt Cobain's Famous Guitar Is Hot Button in Daughter's Divorce

Kurt cobain guitarFrances Bean Cobain, the famous daughter of Kurt Cobain, has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to help get her father’s famous guitar back. She is requesting that her estranged husband return her father’s 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic guitar, which is the legendary guitar Kurt played during Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged.” The estranged husband claims that Frances Bean gifted the guitar to him, and therefore, he gets to keep it. In her response, she fired back asserting that there is no way she would gift such a priceless family heirloom. Additionally, Frances Bean is demanding to inspect the guitar to make sure it is in pristine condition and to keep it in an art shipping company until the dispute is resolved.   

See Frances Bean Cobain: Gimme Back My Dad’s Guitar . . . I’ll Keep It Safe!!, TMZ, January 25, 2017. 


January 26, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on the Corporate Form & Common Law Trust

Common law trustJohn Morley recently published an Article entitled, The Common Law Corporation: The Power of the Trust in Anglo-American Business History, 116 Columbia L. Rev. (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This Essay challenges a central narrative in the history of Anglo-American business by questioning the importance of the corporate form. The corporate form was not, as we have long believed, the exclusive historical source of powers such as limited liability, entity shielding, tradable shares, and legal personhood in litigation. These powers were also available throughout modern history through a little-studied, but enormously important, device known as the common law trust. The trust was widely and very effectively used to hold the property of unincorporated partnerships and associations in England and the United States both long before and long after the passage of general incorporation statutes in the mid-nineteenth century. The trust’s success in wielding corporation-like powers suggests that the corporation’s role in legal history was smaller than — or at least different from — the one we have long assigned to it. This Essay thus lays the groundwork for a new account of the corporate form and its place in the development of modern business.


January 26, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)