Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, August 2, 2021

Succession Drama Grips Scholastic: CEO's Sudden Death, an Office Romance and a Surprise Will

LuccheseIn June, M. Richard Robinson Jr., the longtime lead of Scholastic Corp., died suddenly while on a walk in Martha's Vineyard. Robinson Jr.'s death was not the only surprise, as he also left behind a surprising succession plan. 

Instead of giving control of the publisher to his two sons, his siblings, or his ex-wife, control went to Iole Lucchese, Scholastic's chief strategy officer. Lucchese also inherited all of his personal possessions. 

In his 2018 will, Robinson described Ms. Lucchese as "my partner and closest friend." Lucchese has been with the company for 30-years. Ms. Lucchese and Mr. Robinson had been "longtime romantic partners, according to interviews with family members and former employees. 

The surprise heir has "set in motion a family succession drama at the century-old-company." The company, which is one of the world's largest publishers of children's books like the Harry Potter novels and Magic School Bus series, now has its future being called into question due to Lucchese's "sudden emergence as Scholastic's heir." 

Some family members have began to review their legal options—like reaching an agreement with Ms. Lucchese to transfer some voting shares to family members or to "ensure that get a greater share of the estate." 

Richard Robinson's youngest son, Maurice Robinson, stated that his father's decision to give control to Ms. Lucchese was "unexpected and shocking." John Benham Robinson, Richard Robinson's eldest son, described his father's estate plans as "salt in an open wound." 

See Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg & Shalini Ramachandran, Succession Drama Grips Scholastic: CEO's Sudden Death, an Office Romance and a Surprise Will , The Wall Street Journal, August 1, 2021.

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

August 2, 2021 in Books, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 17, 2021

New Edition of Excellent Estate Planning Book Released

Bove_Langa_BookI am excited to announce that Alexander A. Bove, Jr. and Melissa Langa have recently published the 4th Edition of their book entitled The Complete Book of Wills, Estates, and Trusts published by St. Martin’s Griffin.

This book, designed for a non-attorney audience, does a stellar job of explaining the estate planning and probate process from start to finish. The book is divided into 14 chapters as follows:

  1. The World of Wills
  2. Do you Really Need a Will?
  3. What is a Will?
  4. How to Cancel or Change Your Will
  5. Common Will Provisions
  6. Uncommon Will Provisions – Controlling from the Grave
  7. Spouses’ and Children’s Rights to an Estate
  8. Estate Management
  9. Personal Representatives
  10. Will Contests, Lost Wills, and Beneficiary Rights
  11. Avoiding Probate and Wills Altogether
  12. Everything You Need to Know About Trusts
  13. Probate, Trusts, and Taxes
  14. Dealing with Lawyers

The conversational nature of the authors’ writing style makes their book easy to read and both enjoyable and informative.

As the authors make clear, the book “is NOT a substitute for expert professional advice.” However, reading this book prior to seeking estate planning advice, or during the estate planning process, will make you a well-informed client so that you will have greater understanding of legal concepts when you visit with your attorney. In this way, you can help assure you ask the right questions, get the answers you need, and obtain the estate plan you want to carry out your intent.

July 17, 2021 in Books, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Law Professor from Poland releases book on will formalities

Mariusz Załucki, Professor of Law at AFM Kraków University (Poland), recently released his treatise entitled Wills Formalities versus Testator’s Intention (2021).

His "main objective is to demonstrate that it is possible, justified by the needs of the practice of drawing up wills, to give the provisions on the form of a will a wording which makes them technologically independent, allowing the testator's declaration of last intent, made in any manner whatsoever, recorded by means of any method enabling the testator's last intent to be reflected after his death, to produce legal effects mortis causa. For it is not in all the current formalities and methods of testation indicated by individual legislators, but in the reflection of the testator's intentions that the most important value underpinning modern succession law lies."

June 8, 2021 in Books, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

2021 Edition of Hirsch & McGovern California Probate Code Annotated Released

McGovern_Hirsch_book
Adam J. Hirsch & William M. McGovern recently published Hirsch & McGovern California Probate Code Annotated (2021 ed.). Provided below is a summary of the book.

Your comprehensive resource for probate law and estate planning in California, Hirsch & McGovern California Probate Code Annotated provides the complete text of the California Probate Code, related state and federal statutes, and rules of court regarding estate planning and probate.

This volume contains:

    • Authoritative commentary, annotations, and analysis of leading cases
    • Law Revision Commission editorial notes that provide additional guidance in the construction and application of particular sections
    • References to Witkin's Summary of California Law, 10th which direct you toward further research
    • A table of Judicial Council forms to help you identify forms to be used in conjunction with the statutes and rules
    • A table of cases illustrating the cases discussed in the author's commentary
    • A table of affected sections indicating recent modifications
    • Underlining to indicate additions or changes in statutes
    • Asterisks to indicate deletions

March 10, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 19, 2021

Tapes reveal Marvel icon Stan Lee’s bitter battle with daughter J.C.

StanLeeTape recordings caught the late Stan Lee arguing with his daughter JC, and they are not pleasant.. 

“I think you’re the dumbest white woman I’ve ever known!” Lee is screaming, apparently at his adult daughter, J.C. 

“F–k you, Stan!” she fires back. 

In another recording, Lee is told that J.C. has phoned to tell him she loves him. “F–k, she doesn’t know what love is,” Lee responds. “I don’t need to be upset every f–king time she calls.” 

The recordings were made by Stan Lee's ex-manager during the last years of Stan Lee's life. 

"The tapes are revealed in the new book “True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee” (Crown) by Abraham Riesman, out Tuesday. The gloves-off biography goes behind Lee’s jovial, public face to reveal a man who was distant, troubled and at times unscrupulous. " 

Riesman claimed that the book is not about tearing Stan Lee down, but instead the point is to spread the message that "there are not superheroes." 

The book highlights what appears to be a disturbing relationship between Lee and his daughter JC. 

See Reed Tucker, Tapes reveal Marvel icon Stan Lee’s bitter battle with daughter J.C. , N.Y. Post, February 13, 2021.

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.  

February 19, 2021 in Books, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Wealth Managers Champion Inclusivity And Collaboration In Financial Planning

Estate 12.02.32 PMJR Gondeck and Vanessa Martinez have announced the publication of Family Value at Risk: Inclusive Communication to Pass on Your Family's Wealth and Legacy. Gondeck and Martinez are partners and managing directors at The Lerner Group. The book is published with ForbesBooks, the exclusive business book publishing imprint of Forbes. 

In the book, Gondeck and Martinez discuss the meaning of wealth aside from monetary value. The book takes a "comprehensive view of wealth, including family and legacy, as well as the wider community." 

"This holistic approach to wealth management prioritizes a family’s overall wealth—derived from multiple aspects of life..."

Gondeck and Martinez explain that a sole focus on money puts the entire family's value at risk. Gondeck and Martinez use The Family Value at Risk (FVR) approach to wealth management. In this approach they focus on (1) investment returns that specifically prioritize ROI over other factors and (2) the growing role of inclusivity within financial planning. 

See Wealth Managers Champion Inclusivity And Collaboration In Financial Planning, Forbes, October 13, 2020.

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

October 14, 2020 in Books, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Inside Story of Why Mary Trump Wrote a Tell-All Memoir

UnknownPresident Trump's nice was a family outcast. Her new book casts a cold light on the relatives she describes as dysfunctional.

For most of her life, Mary L. Trump has been outcasted and put aside by her own family. Her uncle, President Trump, for years looked down on her father — Fred Trump Jr., an alcoholic who died when she was a teen. Her Grandfather, Fred Trump Sr., hated her mother, whom he blamed for Fred Trump Jr.'s drinking, court papers say. Her aunt, the president's sister, once accused Ms. Trump and her brother in a legal disposition of being "absentee grandchildren."

Ms. Trump's grandfather was often annoyed by what he took to be her disrespectful nature. Her crime, court papers say: She showed up wearing a baggy sweater. 

Ms' Trump's status as an outcast culminated in 1999 when Fred Trump Sr. died, and she discovered that she and her brother had been cut out of his will, depriving them of what they believed was their rightful share of untold millions. A dispute over the will lead to a court fight, the details of which shielded by a confidentiality agreement that Ms. Trump has followed for nearly 20 years. 

However, Ms. Trump has written a memoir which unfolds the details of that fight as well as other allegations. The book, along with a number of court documents that have never been reported, sheds new light on a decades-long saga of greed and betrayal, laying out what Ms. Trump has described as her family's legacy of darkness and dysfunction. 

The book, "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Dangerous Man," which is set to be released next week, has ended up in court itself, as the Trump family has sought to stop its publication. Ms. Trump has countered that the secrecy provision that has kept her silent until now is unenforceable and based on financial fraud.

See Alan Feuer, Michael Rothfield & Maggie Haberman, The Inside Story of Why Mary Trump Wrote a Tell-All Memoir, N.Y. Times, July 7, 2020.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 10, 2020 in Books, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, June 15, 2020

An Estate Planner's Guide to Family Business Entities: Family Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, and More, Fourth Edition

Louis A. Mezzullo recently published a book entitled, An Estate Planner's Guide to Family Business Entities: Family Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, and More, Fourth Edition (4th ed. 2020). Provided below is a summary of the book: Img

Increasingly clients are looking for the most effective way to pass their investments on to younger family members. This updated edition provides a timely framework for selecting the most appropriate family members means of transferring wealth through the establishment of a business entity, including S corporations, C corporations, partnerships and LLCs.

Author Louis A. Mezzullo explains complex information in a clear and logical manner. Updated to reflect recent legal developments, this book provides lawyers and financial planners the necessary background to accurately advise clients on their choice of entity options. The book discusses the different techniques available for most effectively planning the transfer of a client's wealth, including trusts, S corporations, C corporations, partnerships and LLCs. To guide the selection of the most appropriate entity to meet a client’s objectives, the book offers a thorough comparison of the advantages, disadvantages and restrictions of each type of entity.

Beginning with a concise explanation of the objectives and techniques of estate planning for owners of closely held businesses, the book also provides a practical guide to the variety of forms of legal business entities available to help clients minimize estate and gift taxes while also realizing a number of non-tax benefits.

Topics include:

    • Entity classification for tax purposes
    • Transfer tax issues
    • Partnership taxation
    • Limited partnerships and LLCs
    • Special valuation rules under Chapter 14
    • Sample forms
    • Examples of tax savings

June 15, 2020 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Book on McGovern & Hirsch California Probate Code Annotated

ProbatecodebookAdam J. Hirsch & William M. McGovern recently published a Book entitled, McGovern & Hirsch California Probate Code Annotated (2020 ed.). Provided below is a summary of the Book.

Your comprehensive resource for probate law and estate planning in California, McGovern & Hirsch California Probate Code Annotated provides the complete text of the California Probate Code, related state and federal statutes, and rules of court regarding estate planning and probate.

This volume contains:

    • Authoritative commentary, annotations, and analysis of leading cases
    • Law Revision Commission editorial notes that provide additional guidance in the construction and application of particular sections
    • References to Witkin's Summary of California Law, 10th which direct you toward further research
    • A table of Judicial Council forms to help you identify forms to be used in conjunction with the statutes and rules
    • A table of cases illustrating the cases discussed in the author's commentary
    • A table of affected sections indicating recent modifications
    • Underlining to indicate additions or changes in statutes
    • Asterisks to indicate deletions

February 23, 2020 in Books, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Book on Estate Planning for the Muslim Client

MuslimbookYaser Ali and Ahmed Shaikh recently published a book entitled, Estate Planning for the Muslim Client (2019). Provided below is a summary of the book.

Islamic law provides a non-discretionary system of rules that governs the distribution of a Muslim's estate. Designing an estate plan based upon these rules presents unique challenges and opportunities. As the demand for faith-based planning increases, there is a growing need for culturally competent advisors who understand how these complex rules interplay with state and federal law. This first-of-its-kind practice guide serves as an authoritative resource for practitioners on how to ethically and effectively draft and administer estate plans for Muslim clients seeking to comply with their faith.

Planning a client's estate can involve more than just the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next. To draft a customized plan that achieves a client's unique goals, an estate-planning practitioner must understand the client's values and convictions and, in many cases, his or her religious beliefs. For many clients, passing on these beliefs and traditions is just as important as, if not more important than, the distribution of assets.

Estate Planning for the Muslim Client provides insights, information, and practical planning solutions for clients who wish to adhere to a set of classical religious obligations while recognizing the practicalities of daily life in America. The authors highlight various planning opportunities and identify the most common issues that arise when planning for a Muslim client. Topics include:

    • Meeting the Muslim client and understanding the pillars of their faith
    • Ethical, legal, and public policy issues
    • Estate planning during life
    • Planning for incapacity and death
    • Disposition of property at death
    • Drafting estate planning documents, with sample forms
    • Planning for individuals and assets abroad, and more

February 12, 2020 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)