Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, March 14, 2016

Will The Legacy Long Survive The Creator?

AvariceHarper Lee fit into one of the finest literary traditions by becoming a recluse after the smashing success of her first, and for a long time only, novel. Of course, that novel is To Kill A Mockingbird which has become a staple of American literature and, to this day, sells nearly a million copies per year. But those numbers might be dropping after the announcement that her estate ordered the cheapest paper back version to be discontinued. This announcement has been a shock to many since Lee was known to favor schools and children having easy access to the book. But any desires Lee might have had are now at an end since Lee's lawyer, Tonja Carter, has taken over and seeks to make more money off a creation with which she had not a thing to do. This action, along with other recent moves, has lead many to wonder is the impeccable legacy Lee left behind is being tarnished by those she empowered to manage her worldly possessions. But whatever the case, it is a shame that American children might now miss out on studying this classic because schools or parents cannot afford the additional cost.

See Colette Bancroft, Harper Lee's estate wants readers to pay more for 'Mockingbird', Tampa Bay Times, March 12, 2016.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 14, 2016 in Books, Books - Fiction, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Alabama Judge Shields Harper Lee’s Will From Public

LeeAn Alabama Judge has agreed to shield the will of To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee. There has been a great deal of curiosity about the author’s estate, but the Judge’s decision will respect the families wishes for privacy. In the order Probate Judge Greg Norris held that the court “finds by clear and convincing evidence that information contained in the will and associated court filings pertains to wholly private family matters; poses a serious threat of harassment, exploitation, physical intrusion, or other particularized harm to persons identified in those documents or otherwise entitled to notice of this proceeding; and poses potential for harm to third persons not entitled to notice of this proceeding.” There is also speculation about where Harper Lee’s papers will be donated which many consider to be a literary treasure trove.

See Tom Steele, Judge seals ‘Mockingbird’ author Harper Lee’s will from public’s scrutiny, The Dallas Morning News, March 4, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hartnett (The Hartnett Law Firm) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 5, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Archives Of The Godfather Sold At Auction

Godfather archiveA valuable collection of archival material related to Mario Puzo’s The Godfather has been sold at an auction. The collection, which included 45-boxes of materials that included the 744-page typed draft of the famous novel sold for $625,000 at Boston’s RR Auction. “Puzo's handwritten notes and changes can be seen throughout the manuscript, which was originally titled Mafia.” There are thousands of pages of notes and drafts related to both the book and the Francis Ford Coppola films. There have been other archives sold in the past from famous authors like J.R.R Tolkien and Alan Turing. Handwritten notes from Mario Puzo over the lines “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse,” spoken by Marlon Brando, are also a part of the valuable collection.

See Sarah Cascone, Archives of ‘The Godfather’ Author Mario Puzo Sell for $625,000 at Auction, Art Net News, February 19, 2016.

February 19, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beloved Author Harper Lee Has Passed Away

Harper leeHarper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, has passed away in her sleep this morning at the age of 89. The author’s nephew and spokesman for the family Hank Conner has stated that “[w]e knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly." Lee’s novel was a story about a small town lawyer named Atticus Finch who defends a black man named Tom Robinson who was on trial for false accusations of raping a white woman. The classic story is told from the point-of-view of Finch’s young daughter Scout who witnesses the racism of the 1930’s. Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961, and her novel has since been read by millions.

See Connor Sheets, Harper Lee dead at age of 89: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ author passes away, AL, February 19, 2016.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

February 19, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Book On Wills And Estate Administration

ArticleWills and Estate Administration by Kenneth Vercammen has been published by American Bar Association Publishing and is available in print and as an ebook. Provided below is a description of the book:

Estate planning and administration responsibilities are often a significant part of a solo or small firm lawyer’s practice, but these issues are often time-consuming and complex. Written by a veteran attorney who has focused on streamlining his firm's practice in this area, Kenneth Vercammen shares how to establish and strengthen a firm’s wills and estate practice.

Straightforward and to-the-point, Wills and Estate Administration provides step-by-step guidance that firms can use to handle all aspects of an estates practice, from initial client intake to closing the file. Topics are defined in six parts for ease of use:

  • Preparation for Wills/Estate Planning Interviews
  • Interviewing Clients
  • Additional Estate Planning Issues
  • Estate Administration
  • Guardianship of Disabled or Incompetent Parents
  • Marketing Your Wills and Estate Administration Practice

January 19, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Books - For Practitioners | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Book On Estate Planning For Same-Sex Couples

ArticleEstate Planning for Same-Sex Couples, Third Edition by Joan M. Burda has recently been published and is available through ABA Book Publishing. Provided below is a description of the book:

When the ABA released the second edition of this book in 2012, a mere six jurisdictions recognized marriage equality. What a difference a day makes…this third edition follows hard on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. The court decided that “marriage is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.” What seemed an impossible pipe dream at the turn of the century is now a reality. From now on there is no “same-sex marriage” or “opposite-sex marriage”; there is only marriage.

Marriage is just part of the equation. It is the beginning not the end of the legal struggle as the LGBT community seeks full rights under the law. LGBT people still face discrimination in other areas. This new edition of Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples by award-winning author Joan M. Burda attempts to address certain struggles for equality and how these issues affect estate planning for LGBT clients. For example, not all same-sex couples get married. These blended families will continue to present challenges that must be addressed. Preparing an estate plan for LGBT clients requires a creative and comprehensive approach. The issues these clients present are unique and involve considerations not usually seen with heterosexual clients.

January 15, 2016 in Books - Fiction, Books - For Practitioners | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Special End Of Year Sale On Excellent Estate Planning Guides

ArticleThe American Bar Association is having a sale on the books of estate planning guru Seymour Goldberg until the end of the year. Mr. Goldberg is the chair of the Estate and Financial Planning Committee of the Suffolk Chapter of the New York State Society of CPAs and is both a CLE and CPE instructor. In addition, he was the author of an Amicus Brief in the landmark 2014 inherited IRA opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in Clark v. Rameker. Take this opportunity to get some of the best books available on the subject at a great price! More information about his books and the special discount code can be found here.

December 5, 2015 in Books - Fiction, Books - For Practitioners | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

George Orwell Estate Involved In Copyright Dispute

George orwellThe estate of George Orwell, the late author of 1984, was recently involved in an intellectual property dispute with Café Press over the sale of T-shirts emblazoned with the number 1984.  When Café Press received notice from the Orwell Estate of a copyright violation they disabled the T-shirts from being displayed.  This incident has generated considerable debate about Orwell’s legacy and what the author would think about modern copyright laws.  George Orwell’s famous book, 1984, is expected to remain under copyright until at least 2044.  The Orwell Estate has been involved in other past copyright disputes.  In one case they succeeded in a dispute with Apple over a 1984 Super Bowl add to introduce Macintosh. 

See David Kravets, Orwell estate again rattling copyright saber over 1984 novel, Ars Technica, October 28, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention. 

October 28, 2015 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Settlement Reached In Copyright Dispute Over 'Mr. Holmes'

Mr holmesThe estate of Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle has arrived at a settlement agreement with the creators of the recent movie "Mr. Holmes."  The estate claimed that the recent film infringed on stories that were still under copyright.  The lawsuit was filed against Miramax, Roadside Attractions, and Condon in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.  The movie starring Ian McKellen depicts an elderly retired Sherlock Holmes looking back on his life and getting involved in a new case.  Benjamin Allison, an attorney for the Doyle estate, announced in September that a settlement had been reached between the estate and the makers of the film.  Most of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes works are in the public domain, but there are currently ten works published between 1923 and 1927 that remain under copyright.  

See Ted Johnson, 'Mr. Holmes' Copyright Lawsuit Settled, Variety, October 9, 2015. 



October 10, 2015 in Books - Fiction, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Unparalleled Alzheimer's Novel Applauded

Hospital care

Matthew Thomas, 39, published a great American novel about Alzheimer’s—a disease that will impact the lives and estate plans of thousands.  Thomas devoted ten years of his life to writing We Are Not Ourselves, much of that time was while he was working as a high-school English teacher.  Last year, his book was auctioned for $1 million.  The book was subsequently featured as one of the Buzz Books for 2014 at Book Expo America. 

The book tells the story of Ed Leary, a college professor in his early 50s, and his wife Eileen, a nurse, put the pieces together during Ed’s devastating disease.  The book chronicle’s Ed’s gradual demise, in addition to the emotional and financial impact it has on Eileen and Ed’s son. 

Although fiction, this is a story Thomas knows well.  He was 19 when his own father was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s.  Thomas says his father’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s was a “protracted and delayed death sentence.” 

See Deborah L. Jacobs, Debut Author Hits the Jackpot with Novel About Alzheimer’s, Forbes, Aug. 25, 2015.

August 26, 2014 in Books - Fiction, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)