Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Auction House Denies Claims over Fake Hitler Phone

Hitler's phoneA Maryland auction house recently sold a red phone described as the one that Adolf Hitler used in his bunker for $243,000. The phone bears a swastika and Fuhrer’s name, but was it actually his phone? One skeptic claims that because the phone’s handset was not made in Germany and it was painted red, it is unlikely Hitler’s phone. Others notice inconsistencies like the handset, dial, and cord. However, the auction house is maintaining the high-priced items authenticity. 

See Rob Verger, Hitler Phone Controversy: Auction House Denies Fake Claim, Fox News, February 27, 2017. 


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

Article on Trust & Estate Developments

Trust and estate developSteven Cunningham recently published an Article entitled, Trusts & Estates, 66 Syracuse L. Rev. 1099 (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This article covers notable regulatory, statutory, and case law developments related to trusts and estates for the Survey period of July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.

Part I of this article discusses the significant changes that occurred at the federal level. This discussion will touch upon noteworthy legislative action, revenue procedures, and case law from the Supreme Court of the Unites States and the United States Tax Court. Included in this Part are overviews of topics such as the impact that Obergefell v. Hodges could have on federal tax issues in estate planning and the final regulations on portability elections.

Part II surveys the trust and estate developments in New York, including new legislation, regulations, and case law. In particular, the discussion of New York case law focuses on the Court of Appeals's opinions in Lawrence v. Miller and In re Estate of Lewis, as well as important decisions from the appellate division departments.


February 28, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Laugh with Jean E. Oddi

OddiJean E. Oddi’s obituary shows what a true character she encompassed throughout her laughable life, confessing that “I hate to admit it, but evidently I died.” Oddi knew her time was near when she was wheeled into room #20 in the hospital because she hated even numbers. She loved teaching her granddaughter dirty songs, telling “stories from the bad old days,” and hosting holiday meals. CNN will also be a requirement wherever Oddi goes so that she can check her stocks. In the closing of the obituary, Oddi cheers, “Don’t cry because I’m gone, instead have a drink and be happy you knew me.”  

See Jean E. Oddi, Legacy.com, February 22, 2017. 


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

Article on Post-EGTRRA Death Tax Landscape

Estate tax historyMary Ellen Wimberly published an Article entitled, No State Left Behind: An Analysis of the Post-EGTRRA Death Tax Landscape and an Argument for Kentucky to Repeal State Death Taxes, 104 Ky. L.J. 525 (2015). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Part I of this Note discusses how both types of death taxes (inheritance and estate taxes) have progressed through history, the radical changes to the state death tax system caused by EGTRRA, and the increase in the federal estate and gift tax exemptions. Part II details the current death tax system in Kentucky and explores the trend to repeal state death taxes in other states. Finally, Part III argues that Kentucky's minority approach is unfair for a number of reasons and advocates for state-level repeal to avoid the fleeing of valuable tax-paying individuals to retirement havens or border states without state death taxes. Specifically, Part III argues that Kentucky's current inheritance tax unfairly targets certain individuals, encourages “ante-mortem capital flight,” and does not generate enough income to justify its enforcement. Furthermore, Part III discounts some of the popular arguments in favor of keeping state death taxes, such as decreasing income inequality, providing revenue to states, and encouraging charitable giving.


February 28, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Hospital Mixup Sends Couple's Baby to Be Cremated

Cremation babyAn Australian couple is searching for answers after a hospital accidentally sent their stillborn daughter to the funeral home for cremation. The couple was hoping to get an autopsy and genetic testing done on their daughter to provide answers about her condition before being sent to the funeral home. Apparently, the couple’s paperwork went missing at the hospital, and a lack of funding meant there was no full-time worker at the hospital’s mortuary, leading to a consequential miscommunication. The hospital claims it was an isolated incident and has since improved its processes. 

See Couple Devastated After Hospital Accidentally Cremates Baby, Fox News, February 27, 2017. 


February 27, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on the Rights & Duties of Homesteaders, Life Tenants & Remaindermen

Co-tenantGus G. Tamborello recently published an Article entitled, “A House Divided”: The Rights and Duties of Homesteaders, Life Tenants & Remaindermen, 9 Est. Plan. & Community Prop. L.J. 29 (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Anyone who has dealt with decedent’s estates for any considerable period of time has likely confronted one or all of the following scenarios: 

  1. A. A person dies intestate owning separate and community property, leaving behind a surviving spouse, from a second marriage that does not get along with the decedent’s children from a previous marriage; 
  2. B. A person dies owning community and separate property, and the decedent’s will leaves it to someone other than a surviving spouse;
  3. C. A person either dies intestate leaving several surviving descendants or has a will devising property to the children or grandchildren in equal, undivided interests; 
  4. D. A person devises only a life-estate to someone, or a surviving spouse inherits a life estate in one-third of a real estate, and the remainder passes to individuals with whom the life-tenant does not get along. 

Each of these common scenarios give rise to competing interests, particularly concerning real estate and, more particularly, with respect to the homestead. This article will explore the often confounding relationship between the homesteader, the life tenant, or both, and the remaindermen or co-tenants. This article will also discuss the various rights and duties among them.  


February 27, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Replacing the Portability Election Scheme

Portability electionChristopher P. Brehm recently published an Article entitled, “DSUE” It or Lose It! Replacing the Portability Election Scheme with Mandatory Portability of the Deceased Spouse’s Unused Exclusion Amount, 9 Est. Plan. & Community Prop. L.J. 1 (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

First, this comment will discuss the enactment of portability, as well as the applicable Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulation provisions that govern portability, including the requirements to make the election. Second, this comment will discuss the differences between a traditional estate plan versus a portability plan. Third, this comment will explore the current problems the surviving spouse faces under the current portability election scheme. And finally, this comment will propose not only to eliminate the portability election in favor of making portability of the DSUE amount mandatory but to also impose a new filing requirement for surviving spouses in order to compute the DSUE amount. 


February 27, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Time Is Now for Making Your Claim to Be David Bowie's Lovechild

Bowie fortuneIf you think you could be David Bowie’s lovechild, you should make your case now. The lawyers handling the late singer’s affairs have enforced a deadline for claims from those who might be entitled to a piece of his $100 million fortune, placing a notice in the Times newspaper with a hard date of May 4. Bowie only had two children, but he was admittedly promiscuous. Nearly half of his estate was left to his supermodel wife Iman, and the rest was divided between the two children.  

See Mark Wood, Could You Be David Bowie’s Lovechild? Lawyers Say the Deadline Is Looming for Those Who Think They Are Entitled to a Slice of the ‘Incredibly Promiscuous’ Star’s £80MILLION Fortune, February 25, 2017. 

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


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

The BMW that Tupac Was Killed in Can Be Yours for $1.5 Million

Tupac bmwAn auction house is selling the BMW 750IL that Tupac was shot and killed in, and it can be yours for $1.5 million. On that night in 1996, Suge Knight and Tupac were cruising the Vegas strip when the car was ambushed and littered with bullets. Since the shooting, the car has been restored, but the bullet indentations are still visible inside the door panels. The BMW has more than 90,000 miles on it. 

See Tupac Deathmobile for Sale, TMZ, February 26, 2017. 


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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Article on Subsequent Events & Valuation

ValuationEspen Robak recently published an Article entitled, The Future Is Now: How to Take Subsequent Events into Account When Determining a Valuation, Tr. & Est. 52 (Feb. 2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Almost all valuation disputes take place long after the date of valuation. The argument then often turns, not just to the evidence considered by the appraiser or appraisers around the valuation date, but also on what could have or should have been considered. Since all valuations contain an implicit prophecy of the future, few fact finders will agree to ignore completely the actual path of events after the valuation date. After all, many of those events may have been foreseeable on the valuation date, even though the appraiser failed to predict them. 

When is such reliance on subsequent events reasonable and appropriate? And, to what extent? Courts differ greatly in their reliance and weighting of subsequent events. Let’s attempt to tease out some of the finer distinctions between situations in which post-valuation date history will likely be considered and those in which it shouldn’t. 


February 25, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)