Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

Final Farewell

ShieldsJohn Shields, 78, recently decided to end his life via medically assisted suicide. Shields, a former Catholic priest, did not allow the stance of the church to influence his final decision. Shields was diagnosed with amyloidosis after he blacked out while driving. Amyloidosis is a disease causing an abnormal buildup of proteins in the tissues and organs which may eventually lead to paralysis and organ failure. Doctors believe this buildup caused Shields's heart to stop and was the impetus for his blackout. Fearing paralysis and the loss of dignity as an almost certain part of the disease's progression, Shields opted for Canada's medical assistance dying program. He allowed the New York Times to video his final days as he said goodbyes to family and friends before lethal injection. 

See Cheyenne Roundtree, Former Catholic Priest, 78, Takes His Own Life with Assisted Suicide After Being Diagnosed with Incurable Paralysis Disease - and Films His Dying Moments, Daily Mail.com, May 27, 2017.


May 29, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Recent Nevada Supreme Court Decisions

Nevada-state-mapThe Nevada Supreme Court recently published two cases relevant to trusts and trust issues. The first case deals with a divorcing couple, Eric and Lynita Nelson, who had set up spendthrift trusts prior to their divorce. In this case, the court confirmed that Nevada does not have exception creditors; the only exclusion being for fraudulent transfers. The court also held that extrinsic evidence may not be used to refute a document that is valid and unambiguous. This applies to trusts and also to agreements transmuting community property into separate property.

In the second court decision, the Nevada Supreme Court held that an investment trust advisor accepting a trust with a situs in the state constitutes sufficient minimum contacts with Nevada to give rise to specific personal jurisdiction.

See Klabacka v. Nelson, 2017 Nev. LEXIS 40 (May, 25, 2017).

See Davis v. Davis, 388 P.3d 964 (Nev. 2017).


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

The Consultative Planner

Financial PlanningThe term “wealth management,” while commonly used, can be difficult to define clearly. In some instances, it is perspective that forms the substance of the term’s meaning. For a client, wealth management is the ability of a planner to enhance their financial position. For a planner, it is the ability to deliver a number of financial services in a consultative manner. For planners, the key part of wealth management is the consultative nature of the process. By proving detailed and tailored information to each unique client, the planner is much better able to help their clients achieve their goals for their financial plans.

See Russ Alan Prince, What Is Wealth Management?, Forbes, May 16, 2017.

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

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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The 90/10 Rule

90--10Louis S. Harrison, specializing in sophisticated tax, corporate, and estate planning, is proposing a new rule for planners: the 90/10 rule. While many are familiar with the 80/20 rule, 80% of revenue comes from 20% of clients, the 90/10 rule is designed to increase attorney/planner happiness rather than revenue. The 90/10 rule underlies the idea that 90% of aggravation in a firm comes from 10% of clients. Harrison advocates for the idea that this 10% should be avoided and offers a few bits of advice on how to do so. His basic premise depends on attorneys and planners using their common sense. If a client has burned through multiple attorneys, disparages former attorneys, or is hiring you in order to avoid paying a previous attorney, it may be better to simply say “no” and avoid the aggravation.

See Louis S. Harrison, Avoiding the Dark Side: Darth Vader and the 90/10 Rule, Wealth Management.com, May 18, 2017.

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

May 28, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

When Wills Become Won'ts

Family_fight-700x430The transfer of wealth from the baby boomer generation, while a boon to their children, may be of even greater benefit to lawyers. A recent report from BMO Wealth Management indicates that a failure to prepare family and beneficiaries for a parent’s demise may lead to discord and possibly litigation. This situation can be exacerbated by non-traditional family arrangements or divorce; arrangements that are becoming much more prevalent in the US. Among the report’s findings, 40% of beneficiaries thought the estate distribution was unfair, 40% of parents surveyed had not discussed their estate disposition with their children, and a quarter of married adults said only their spouse knew the location of their will. While estate distribution schemes may be potentially upsetting, it is generally better to engage in open communication with possible heirs in order to avoid family discord at death.  

See When Wills Become Won'ts, Financial Advisor, May 1, 2017.

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

May 28, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Laissez-Faire Estate Planning

How-to-avoid-family-feuds-over-your-inheritance-300x195More than half of Americans do not have a formal estate plan; 52% do not currently have a will in place. Among those that do have a will in place, a majority intend an equal distribution among beneficiaries, but a significant minority plan an unequal distribution. These uneven distribution schemes may be a cause of division in some families if not dealt with prior to a client’s death. Despite the possibility of litigation and familial strife after a client passes, many individuals with a will had not disclosed its contents or its whereabouts to their children or possible beneficiaries. Seemingly ignoring the possible consequences of a laissez-faire approach to estate planning, this is how many Americans are handling their estate and financial legacy.

See Christopher Robbins, Most Americans Still Avoid Estate Planning, Study Says, Financial Advisor, April 7, 2017.

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

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

More Alzheimer's Deaths Occurring at Home

Brain_slicesAlzheimer’s deaths increased by more than 50% from 1999 to 2014 in the US. These numbers are expected to rise given America’s aging population and increasing life expectancy. While the number of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s has gone up, the number of these individuals being treated in a medical facility has actually declined. Over the same fifteen-year period, Alzheimer’s sufferers being treated in a medical facility fell from 14.7% in 1999 to 6.6% in 2014. Many of these individuals are instead being cared for at home with family supervision. Considering the burden placed on these families, it is likely they would benefit from services such as respite care and case management. This trend of taking Alzheimer’s sufferers into the home in lieu of a medical facility will likely continue as the debilitating disease is expected to affect 13.8 million adults over 65 by 2050.

See Julie Steenhuysen, U.S. Alzheimer's Deaths Jump 54 percent; Many Increasingly Dying at Home, Reuters, May 25, 2017.

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

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Final Goodbye

Alg-jack-kevorkian-jpgDoctor-assisted suicide remains a polarizing and difficult issue. Despite this, countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg, and Sweden have already legalized voluntary euthanasia. Last year, Canada legalized medically-assisted death. A recent story from the US, Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old from California suffering from a brain tumor, travelled all the way to Oregon to end her life. Using social media to say her final goodbye, Maynard received an outpouring of support and sympathy from the online community.

A recent study released by the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the reason for terminal patients wanting to end their lives has more to do with psychological issues as opposed to physical suffering. Although discussions regarding assisted suicide commonly revolve around the unmitigated suffering endured by patients with diseases like cancer, this does not seem to be the primary impetus behind some individual’s desire to die.

While the psychological issues are complex, many terminal individuals wanting to end their lives early share similar characteristics. These people tended to be decisive and independent—in control of their lives. This attitude in life tended to correlate with a desire to control the manner in which they died.

Maynard’s final Facebook post expresses this idea as she wrote: “Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more.”

See Ariana Eunjung Cha, It’s Not Pain but ‘Existential Distress’ that Leads People to Assisted Suicide, Study Suggests, The Washington Post, May 24, 2017.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

May 26, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Joliet Sailor Killed at Pearl Harbor Finally Will Be Laid to Rest

FuneralAfter more than 75 years, Michael Galajdik, killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor while aboard the USS Oklahoma, will finally reach his ultimate resting place. Galajdik, a Navy Fireman 1st Class, will be buried at Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood. Through the use of DNA and dental records, the Navy was able to successfully identify the previously unidentified corpse. George Sternisha, Galajkik’s nephew, will travel with the body from Hawaii to Joliet. Sternisha recalls his mother’s desire to bury her brother. Despite her passage in 1993, he is still happy to be able to fulfill her wish.

Ginger Dudek, a resident of Joliet, was concerned the funeral route would be bare. But, with the aid of social media, she was able to elicit a powerful response from the local community. Dudek asked residents to volunteer to line the streets as the funeral procession traversed its route. Calls soon came in with offers of aid. Dudek expressed her amazement and gratitude for those who were willing to honor the memory of Galajdik and his sacrifice.

See Alicia Fabber, Joliet Sailor Killed at Pearl Harbor Finally Will Be Laid to Rest, Chicago Tribune, April 21, 2017.

May 26, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Texas Supeme Court Refuses to Recongize Cause of Action for Tortious Interference with Inheritance Rights

TexasEarlier today, the Supreme Court of Texas declined to follow a long line of lower court cases when it refused to recognize a cause of action for tortious interference with inheritance rights.  However, the court did not preclude reconsidering the issue at a later time as the court indicated it was "not persuaded to consider it here." (emphasis added)

See Kinsel v. Lindsey, No. 15-0403 (Tex. May 26, 2017).

May 26, 2017 in New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)