Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Inheritance Disputes from Beyond the Grave

170px-Salvador_Dali_NYWTSThe recent exhumation of Salvador Dalí’s remains represents an unpleasant and worrisome indicator of how far some will go to establish bogus inheritance claims. Pilar Abel’s now-debunked assertion that she is Dalí’s daughter served as her attempt to win 25% of a $1 billion estate.

In the UK, inheritance claims are becoming more convoluted and much more common. In 2016, claims issued under the Inheritance Act 1975 increased by almost 40%. For those planning their estates, it is important to put safeguards in place. The particular provisions required to protect an estate plan should be discussed with a professional. But, a first and free step advisors suggest to their clients is to engage in conversation with family members. Though disagreeable, such discussions may avoid estate challenges after death.  

See Lucy Warwick-Ching, Inheritance Disputes from Beyond the Grave, Financial Times, October 19, 2017.

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

October 26, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Court Rejects Effort to Avoid Settlement Agreement

Dd48da1480d9eb0e36a0134bfb833542Disputes involving wills and estates are typically settled through mediation. Mediation has a number of benefits over taking these issues to court including reduced expenses, more certain results, and less time spent waiting for assets to be distributed to beneficiaries. In Texas, another benefit of mediation is the reluctance of the courts to overturn settlement agreements. In Lawson v. Collins, the Austin Court of Appeals rejected an attempt to challenge a mediated settlement agreement and binding arbitration following the initial mediation. Despite the challenger’s argument that she acted under duress and was coerced, the court held that the agreement and the arbitration were both valid.

See Michael Young, Court Rejects Effort to Avoid Settlement Agreement, Texas Probate Litigation, October 19, 2017.

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

October 25, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Kings v Bultitude - A Gift Lost to Charity

WealthJohn Picton recently posted an Article entitled, Kings v Bultitude - A Gift Lost to Charity, Wills, Trusts, & Estate Law eJournal (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Charity might always be favoured by equity, but in this case it allowed a gift to fail. Unusual facts tested well-established legal principles; proving they deserve their reputation as the ‘difficult member’ of the family of charitable trusts jurisprudence. This note analyses the relevant legal rules as they were applied to the bequest, it then considers whether the gift could have been saved.

October 25, 2017 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

The New Nevis LLC

Aerial-Resort-Nevis-PeakThe islands of Nevis and St. Kitts are located in the West Indies and together constitute the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Nevis is most well-known as being the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. It was also once home to a number of substantial sugar plantations and was the center of the English slave trade.

The Nevis International Exempt Trust Ordinance was the first ordinance adopted in Nevis that served to legally establish beneficial planning entities. A limited liability company ordinance was adopted in 1995 to complement the trusts created by the trust ordinance. In 2015, the Nevis Limited Liability Company (Amendment) Ordinance was passed in order to strengthen and clarify the 1995 ordinance.

See Gary A. Forster, The New Nevis LLC, Probate and Property Magazine, October 2017.

October 25, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Common Law Couples Need an Estate Plan (New York)

Marriage-relationships-attorney-common_law_marriage-partners-break_ups-break_up-rmo0270_lowCommon-law marriage has become an increasingly prevalent practice as states have begun recognizing these relationships. Despite this increase, nearly three-quarters of US states, including New York, do not legally recognize common-law marriages. New York intestacy laws dictate the manner in which a decedent’s estate is distributed among his heirs: $50,000 and one-half of the remainder goes to the spouse and the rest is passed pro rata to the surviving children. If the spouses were not legally married, the spouse inherits nothing from the estate. Even worse, the distribution can become considerably more complex for the children as they must provide evidence of their relationship to the deceased.

See Inna Fershteyn, Why Common Law Couples Need an Estate Plan, Law Office of Inna Fershteyn, October 14, 2017.

Special thanks to Alexander Evelson for bringing this article to my attention.

 

October 25, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Elvis Presley's Personal 'T.C.B.' Revolver Up for Sale for $95k

1016-elvis-revolver-auction-momentsintime-getty-6Elvis Presley’s .38 caliber Smith & Wesson Chief Special revolver is up for auction through Moments in Time. The current price is $95,000. Presley, a quiet fan of guns, purchased the weapon in 1971 at a shop in Memphis. The revolver is engraved with the initials “T.C.B.” and a lightning bolt. The letters and the image are meant to stands for “taking care of business in a flash.”

See Elvis Presley's Personal 'T.C.B.' Revolver Up for Sale for $95k, TMZ, October 17, 2017.

October 24, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Case Note. Estate Law--Summary Distribution of Small Estates: In re Estate of Coborn

Jackson-wyoming-wallpaper-1Jennie Boulerice recently published an Article entitled, Case Note. Estate Law--Summary Distribution of Small Estates: In re Estate of Coborn, 17 Wyo. L. Rev. 59 (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This case note argues that the Wyoming Supreme Court was correct in holding that Wyoming Statute § 2-1-205 authorized a district court to order summary distribution of real property located in other Wyoming counties based on the court's expository legislation reasoning and policy reasons. The background section begins with a brief overview of estate succession and an explanation and history of the relevant statute, Wyoming Statute § 2-1-205. Additionally, the background section discusses the legal theories that the Wyoming Supreme Court relied on to reach its conclusion. This section also offers a brief overview of relevant legal principles, such as split estates. The principle case section discusses the facts, procedural history, the court's reasoning, and the holding of In re Estate of Coborn. The analysis section explains why the court was correct in its holding with respect to the expository legislation reasoning and policy reasons. Finally, the case note explains a few likely implications of the court's decision for estate distribution in practice.

October 24, 2017 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should We Tax Gifts the British Way?

Bruce_Forsyth1Bruce Forsyth, a British TV icon who passed away last month, was not a fan of the U.K.’s 40% inheritance tax. To avoid it, he left everything to his wife. Wilnelia, his widow, now bears the responsibility of dispersing the remaining estate to Forsyth’s numerous descendants. Unlike taxpayers in the US, Wilnelia may be able to completely avoid taxes on gifts made during her lifetime. In the U.K., gifts made during life are only taxed as part of a decedent’s estate if they were made within seven years of death.

See Should We Tax Gifts the British Way?, Trust and Wealth Management Marketing, September 11, 2017.

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

October 24, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Looks to “Green-ify Death After Brown Signs Water-Cremation Bill

81XZuf2+T1L._SY450_Californians may be able to opt for water-cremation as early as 2020 thanks to a bill recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Water cremation is currently legal in fourteen states and does not use fossil fuels or produce carbon emissions like traditional cremation. The process entails placing the deceased into a pod-like vat and then immersing the remains in an alkaline solution for at least four hours at a temperature of around 300 degrees. While traditional cremation leaves behind ash, water-cremation leaves behind a brown fluid with a consistency similar to syrup.

See Edmunde DeMarche, California Looks to “Green-ify Death After Brown Signs Water-Cremation Bill, Fox News, October 19, 2017.

October 24, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wringing Cash from Life Insurance

Cartoon90Life-settlement, the purchase of a life-insurance policy by a third party, got its start at the height of the AIDS epidemic with viatical settlements. Viatical settlements allowed terminal patients to sell their insurance policies in order to cover the cost of treatment and care. This growing industry has slowly shifted focus from the terminally ill to older adults. The process involves a company like Coventry, among the largest life-settlement providers, evaluating potential clients to see if they want to buy their life-insurance policy and take over premium payments. Similar to a reverse-mortgage, these companies are betting against the individuals from whom they buy the policies. Essentially, the purchaser is hoping the seller dies sooner, rather than later, in order to maximize profit. While somewhat macabre, many people let their policies expire and forfeit an opportunity to make money. Though the current market comes with a caution flag, walking away from a paid-up policy is rarely an ideal option.

See Paula Span, Wringing Cash from Life Insurance, The New York Times, October 13, 2017.

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

October 23, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)