Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Mukesh Ambani prepares to hand a $220 billion empire to his children

Mekush AmbaniMukesh Ambani, Indian billionaire and the 11th richest man in the world, has laid out plans to hand off his business empire to his three children, Akash, Isha and Anant, despite insisting he has no intention to retire.

Ambani told shareholders in his Reliance Industries conglomerate that his three children are currently being mentored by senior leaders in the company. 

Since inheriting an oil business from his father, Ambani has spent the last few years diversifying into tech, renewable energy, and retail, making Reliance Industries worth 17.8 trillion rupees ($224 billion.) 

When the Ambani’s father passed away in 2002, he died intestate, which led to a fight for the control of the empire between Ambani and his younger brother. 

For more information, see Diksha Madhok “Mukesh Ambani prepares to hand a $220 billion empire to his children” CNN, August 30, 2022.

August 31, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Article: A Behavioural Economics Analysis of Will Making Preferences: When to Begin and Who Should Have the Most Input?

Tina Cockburn, Kelly Purser, Ho Fai Chan, Bridget J. Crawford, Stephen Whyte, and Uwe Dulleck recently published an article entitled, A Behavioural Economics Analysis of Will Making Preferences: When to Begin and Who Should Have the Most Input?, Minnesota Journal of International Law, Forthcoming. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to plan for death, including the transmission of property through a valid will. Surprisingly little is known, however, about when people tend to make wills, how they go about doing so, and whether those practices vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. To begin building a foundation of knowledge, a research team comprised of United States and Australian lawyers and economists recently conducted the first-ever behavioural economics empirical study exploring these questions. This Article reports the results of the team’s survey of both members of the Australian general public and estate planning lawyers in that country. The research aim was to elicit and compare the attitudes of members of both groups on three questions: (1) when people should begin to plan their estates in anticipation of death; (2) the relative role that the lawyer (compared to the client) should play in the estate planning process; and (3) whether remote witnessing rules for wills—newly adopted during the pandemic in several jurisdictions including states in Australia and the United States—have any impact on individuals’ expressed preferences towards will making.

The study yields three significant findings. First, members of the legal profession in Australia tend to prefer the execution of a will at a much younger age than members of the general public do. Estate planning attorneys tend to cite age 29 as the “right” time to make a will, but the general public tends to think that age 47 is best. Second, laypeople in Australia tend to hold widely divergent opinions on the appropriate balance of client vs. professional input into the estate planning process. Those who already have engaged at least once in the will-making process tend to desire far greater levels of input from estate planning attorneys than those who have never made a will. Attorneys, in contrast, have relatively uniform views about the same question, tending to cite 70% as the appropriate percentage of estate planning decisions that should be driven by the client. Finally, among both members of the general public and attorneys in Australia, expressed preferences on these matters appear to be largely unaffected by any stated benefits or drawbacks of remotely executed wills.

The survey’s focus on Australia was intentional. Australia is an industrialized, democratic country with both a largely capitalist economic and a history of innovation in the law of wills, trusts and estates. Furthermore, Australia’s population is smaller than that of the United States, making it easier to obtain a more representative sample. At the same time, we conceive of this study as the beginning point for further, cross-jurisdictional inquiries. Future research can explore whether or how attitudes about will making differ across jurisdictions, using the results reported here as a touchstone. Separate from any country-specific considerations, knowledge about when people make wills, how they do so, and differences between and among jurisdictions will allow lawmakers to make more informed decisions about whether to make permanent some of the pandemic-era rules that enabled the remote online audio-visual witnessing of wills.

August 30, 2022 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 29, 2022

Paul Allen’s $1 Billion Art Collection Heads to Auction

Paul AllenMicrosoft co-founder, Paul Allen, focused extensively on his art collection after he left the company in 1983. He amassed a collection boasting of paintings and sculptures that could top $1 billion when it heads to auction this fall.

Famous auction house, Christie’s, confirmed late last week that it had won the right to sell 150 pieces from Mr. Allen’s estate. It has been said that Mr. Allen’s collection is the most expensive art collection the auction industry has ever handled. Chritie’s is currently working on cataloging all 150 works before providing any details to the public.

Jody Allen, Mr. Allen’s sister and executor of his estate, described her brother as being “analytical and emotional” when it came to art. By the early 1990’s, Allen had earned a reputation as avid collector who sought out pieces that represented “groundbreaking” moments in artists’ careers. While it is currently unclear which pieces will be headed to auction, Allen is known to have collected works from some of the worlds most renowned artists, such as Georgia O’Keefe, Edgar Degas, Sandro Botticelli, and Paul Cézanne, to name a few. 

For more information:

See Kelly Crow “Paul Allen’s $1 Billion Art Collection Heads to Auction” The Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2022.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 29, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 28, 2022

'Star Trek' legend's ashes will head to deep space on a Vulcan rocket

Nichelle NicholsLate actor Nichelle Nichols, who is best known for playing Lt. Nyota Uhura in “Star Trek,” will be laid to rest place aboard the Celestis Voyager Memorial Spaceflight where her ashes will be released into space.

The Vulcan Centaur rocket by United Launch Alliance will take flight later this year, launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida and will travel beyond NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope into interplanetary deep space.

Other remains that will board the flight include “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who played various roles in the franchise. James Doohan, who played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in the films and Tv series as well. In addition to cremated remains, human genome DNA samples will also be aboard the flight.

The cost to have DNA or loved ones’ remains in a spaceflight container starts at $12,500. Reservations will close on August 31. Ahead of liftoff, Celestis will host a three-day event with astronauts, launch site tours, and an on-site memorial service. All events will be shown via webcast.

For more information:

See Kristen Rogers “‘Star Trek’ legends ashes will head to deep space on a Vulcan rocket” CNN, August 26, 2022.

August 28, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Jared Kushner says he's been trying to keep his body in shape because he might one day become immortal

KushnerJared Kushner, son-in-law to former President Donald Trump, announced during a livestream earlier this week that he has been making his physical health a priority since leaving the White House, where he served as an advisor to the President. His main reason for keeping trim is the hope that medical science will allow him to “live forever.”

“ I think that there’s a good probability that my generation is, hopefully with the advances in science, is either the first generation to live forever or the last generation that’s going to die… So we need to keep ourselves in pretty good shape.”

A source has called these comments a “tongue-in-cheek joke” to make the point that it’s important to maintain his physical health with the goal of living a longer, healthier life.

For more information:

See Cheryl Teh “Jared Kushner says he’s been trying to keep his body in shape because he might one day become immortal” Yahoo! News, August 25, 2022.

August 27, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 26, 2022

Former Gadsden bank manager sentenced for stealing money from dead customer's account

MoneyDorinda Lynn Lumpkin of Gadsden, Ala. was sentenced to more than a year in prison for embezzling money from the account of a deceased customer at BBVA, where Lumpkin was employed as branch manager.

Lumpkin was sentenced to 12 months and one day for stealing over $184,000 after pleading guilty in January of this year. She reportedly prepared and approved transactions in her capacity as branch manager, and then withdrew funds from accounts associated with the deceased customer and her daughter and converted the funds for her own use.

The U.S. Secret Service Cyber Fraud Task Force investigated, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. Canter prosecuted the case.

For more information:

See Summer Harrell “Former Gadsden bank manager sentenced for stealing money from dead customer’s account” ABC News, August 25, 2022.

August 26, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 25, 2022

University of South Carolina School of Law Seeks Estate and Tax Professor

The following announcement is from The Faculty Lounge and was brought to my attention by Adam Hirsch.

The University of South Carolina School of Law is hiring up to five tenured or tenure-track faculty members. The School of Law is interested in candidates who are qualified to teach Environmental Law, Business Law, Trust and Estate/Tax, Criminal Practice clinic (or criminal-adjacent), and a new housing and evictions defense clinic; however, outstanding candidates from other areas will be considered and are encouraged to apply. Our clinical positions are tenured/tenure-track. The School of Law encourages candidates who can contribute to the diversity of our law school community to apply.

At the University of South Carolina, we strive to cultivate an inclusive environment that is open, welcoming, and supportive of individuals of all backgrounds. We recognize diversity in our workforce is essential to providing academic excellence and critical to our sustainability. The University is committed to eliminating barriers created by institutional discrimination through accountability and continuous process improvement. We celebrate the diverse voices, perspectives, and experiences of our employees.

August 25, 2022 in Faculty Positions -- Permanent | Permalink | Comments (0)

Paul Newman’s Daughters Sue Newman’s Own Foundation

NewmanPaul Newman’s daughters have brought suit against the Newman’s Own Foundation, claiming that the leaders have deviated from their late father’s wishes to empower family members in dealings with the foundation. Newman created the private foundation in 2005, which controls the food company, Newman’s Own Inc..

The foundation has assets valued around $234 million. In 2020, the foundation’s board of directors reduced the yearly amount that the daughters each receive to direct charitable donations, cutting the dollar amount in half.

The daughters are now seeking $1.6 million in damages to be donated to the charities of their choosing.

For more information:

See Khadeeja Safdar “Paul Newman’s Daughters Sue Newman’s Own Foundation” The Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2022.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 25, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Married and on your parents’ cell plans

Cell phoneCombining accounts is a natural next step for couples to take, such as joining insurance accounts or merging bank accounts. However, there is one step that many couples are hesitant to take: joining digital plans.

Having joint streaming service accounts is relatively low risk, as there are no multiyear contracts involved, but many couples have reported that sharing accounts has caused difficulties in their relationship. Some couples have fought about the algorithm of their Spotify account being skewed by their partners taste in music and the hesitation to join accounts proves to be especially true when couples discuss joint cell phone plans. Many have reportedly stayed on their parents' family plans well into adulthood.

Other couples have reported that sharing passwords felt like a safety risk, however, experts say that while it may be difficult to discuss, having access to passwords is a critical step to handling all the various accounts upon a partner’s death. There is no one-size-fits-all approach and each couple must assess what works best for their relationship.

For more information:

See Tatum Hunter “Married and on your parents’ cell plans” The Washington Post, August 8, 2022.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 24, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

It Now Costs $300,000 to Raise a Child

ChildrenDue to rising costs, it is now projected that the cost to raise a child through high school is now around $300,000. This comes out to about $18,271 per year according to the Brookings Institution. This price tag which covers a range of expenses, including housing, food, healthcare, and child care.

According to a senior fellow at Brookings, the rising cost of raising children will likely have people thinking twice before they choose to expand their families. While there are alternatives to cut costs, like shopping at more affordable stores or trading down to lower-quality items. this may not cut it for all families. In particular, lower-income households will have less room to adjust as they may already be adhering to these practices.

For more information:

See Rina Torchinsky “It Now Costs $300,000 to Raise a Child” Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2022.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 23, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)