Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, January 20, 2020

Son's Legal Fight for Dead Dad's Frozen Head Against Cryogenics Firm

CryogenicsKurt Pilgeram says that the company Alcor Life Extension Firm was to preserve his late father's body cryogenically, but instead only froze the man's head, and sent Kurt the rest of his ashes. He sued the company for a million dollars, claiming the event caused him extreme mental distress. Now Alcor is countersuing the son, claiming fraud by way of hiding documents from the probate court.

Diane Cafferata, the attorney who represents the company, says that "After [Laurence] Pilgeram died in 2015, his son hid the codicil and all his father's testamentary documents from the probate court and falsely claimed his father died intestate," thus causing Kurt and his brother to inherit their father's $16 million fortune. Cafferata also claims that the son blocked the company from received an $80,000 life insurance policy that was to pay for the preservation. Within the alleged codicil is a provision that states if a beneficiary challenged his father's wish to be preserved, they were to receive merely a dollar.

Laurence Pilgeram was a scientist that worked for several decades in the field of cryogenics and entered into an agreement with Alcor back in 1990 at the age of 67 to be preserved upon his death. When he died in 2015 of cardiac arrest he was 90. The program requires the person's body to be brought to the company as soon as possible after death, but Alcor was not notified until three days after Pilgeram's passing. Because of this, they were forced to do a "neuro-isolation," where only the head is preserved and the rest of the body is cremated because the future may hold the ability to regrow a healthy body around a functioning brain, according to the company's website.

Pilgeram is the company's 125th person to be preserved.

See James Gordon, Son's Legal Fight for Dead Dad's Frozen Head Against Cryogenics Firm, Daily Mail, January 18, 2020.

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

 

January 20, 2020 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Science, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Law Student Writing Competition

WritingThe ABA's Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law (RPTE) is seeking entries for its Student Writing Contest, which is now entering its 18th year. It offers substantial prizes to its entrants:

The goal of the RPTE student writing contest is to encourage and reward law student writing on the subjects of real property or trust and estate law. It is designed to attract students to these law specialties and to encourage scholarship and interest in these areas. Articles submitted for judging are encouraged to be of timely topics and have not been previously published. This contest is open to all law and LL.M students currently attending an ABA-accredited law school. Entries must be received by the Section not later than May 31, 2020.

1st place:

  • $2,500 award
  • A full-tuition scholarship to the University of Miami School of Law's Heckerling Graduate Program in Estate Planning OR Robert Traurig-Greenberg Traurig Graduate Program in Real Property Development for the 2019–2020 or 2020-2021 academic year.
  • Free round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations to the RPTE Fall Leadership Meeting, November 14–16, 2020 in San Juan, PR. This is an excellent meeting to network with RPTE leadership!
  • One-year free RPTE membership
  • Consideration for publication in The Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal, the Section's law review journal, which is mailed to 25,000 RPTE members
  • Name and essay title will be published in the eReport, the Section's electronic newsletter

2nd place:

  • $1,500 award
  • One-year free RPTE membership
  • Consideration for publication in The Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal, the Section's law review journal, which is mailed to 25,000 RPTE members
  • Name and essay title will be published in the eReport, the Section's electronic newsletter

3rd place:

  • $1,000 award
  • One-year free RPTE membership
  • Consideration for publication in The Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal, the
  • Section's law review journal, which is mailed to 25,000 RPTE members
  • Name and essay title will be published in the eReport, the Section's electronic newsletter

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program of their choice to be considered for the scholarship. Applicants to the Heckerling Graduate Program in Estate Planning must hold a J.D. degree from an ABA accredited law school and must have completed the equivalent of both a J.D. trusts and estates and federal income tax course. Applicants to the Robert Traurig-Greenberg Traurig Graduate Program in Real Property Development must hold a degree from an ABA accredited law school or a foreign equivalent non-US school.

Visit the University of Miami School of Law webpage for further information on the graduate programs.

January 19, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Writing Competitions for Students | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 17, 2020

Avid Fisherman's Family Honors his Memory by Bringing Boat into Funeral Home

Boatfuneral37-year-old Nathaniel Frey of Hellertown, Pennsylvania passed away on New Year's Eve at a local hospital. His family made sure that his most passionate hobby - fishing - was made aware to the funeral director, David Heintzelman. 

For the viewing on January 3, Frey’s casket was placed inside Frey’s own 16-foot aluminum fishing boat, which had been passed down from his grandfather and father. His casket was then transported from the church to the cemetery in his brother Jeremy's fishing boat. Joshuah Thompson, Frey's cousin, believed that he would be highly pleased with the service, claiming that Nathaniel had once texted him, "When It’s My Time, Take Me In My Fishing Boat."

Frey's family and friends are now planning to continue his annual fishing trip up to the Salmon River in Oswego County, a tradition he had been leading for the past 15 years. He was survived by his wife and two children.

See Alexandra Deabler, Avid Fisherman's Family Honors his Memory by Bringing Boat into Funeral Home, Fox News, January 16, 2020.

January 17, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

'Death with Dignity' Bill Proposed in Indiana

IndianaIndiana Democratic Representative Matt Pierce out of Bloomington has presented a bill that would terminally ill patients with 6 months or less to live the option to die on their own terms. But this is not the first year that he has done it. He has proposed the bill every year since 2016 - the year a popular blogger from Indiana passed away after a 2 year battle with ovarian cancer.

Pierce says that the bill is modeled after the current bill in Oregon. The patient must request the medication twice, in writing, with a 15-day waiting period between the requests, plus be subject to psychological evaluations to determine that they are mentally competent.

"Why can't I have some control over my own dignity and my own body? Why can't an individual have that option if they want to exercise it," Pierce said. He also commented that some Republican colleagues are afraid to talk about the topic because it is controversial and may not sit well with social conservatives that believe that any type of assisted suicide is morally wrong.

See Jennie Runevitch, 'Death with Dignity' Bill Proposed in Indiana, WTHR.com, January 16, 2020.

January 17, 2020 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Singer Prince's Estate Battling Sister Tyka in Court, Fight Over Control of His Legacy

PrinceTyka Nelson, the sister of the late singer Prince, recently informed the court that she sold a portion of her interest in her brother's estate to Primary Wave IP Fund. The estate's personal representative, Comerica, is objecting to the sister's request that Primary Wave now be privy to all matter concerning the estate, including confidential business matters.

Comerica is arguing that it is Tyka and not Primary Wave that is an heir to Prince's estate, who passed away without a will, and thus the company should not be entitled to the "unique role in the administration of this Estate" that the named heirs received. The sister claims that she consulted with legal and financial professionals on her rights as an heir to the estate, and believes that it was fully within her ability to enter into the Expectancy Interest Transfer Agreement with Primary Wave. She added that she did it "in order to realize some value from the Estate before the completion of the Estate administration.” Earlier this month Tyka was ordered to pay numerous attorneys that worked for her $850,000, pertaining to the administration of Prince's estate, so it is not surprising she wanted quicker cash.

See Ryan Naumann, Singer Prince's Estate Battling Sister Tyka in Court, Fight Over Control of His Legacy, The Blast, December 9, 2019.

January 14, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 13, 2020

Lifetime Transfers Considered an Advance on Inheritance

Court2California’s second appellate district recently ruled in Sachs v. Sachs that lifetime transfers of property to a person can be treated as an at death transfer, and therefore as an advance on any inheritance. The transferor kept a record of when he periodically certain amounts to his children, and the court found that the writing satisfied California Probate Code section 21135.

David Sachs created a trust in 1980 and named his two children, Benita and Avram, as the main beneficiaries. He began to keep a written log of distributions under what he labeled "The Permanent Record" in 1989 and told the children about it. After a stroke that triggered cognitive issues, David had a bookkeeper maintain logging the distributions. The bookkeeper said David had mentioned "keeping the list was important so that payments made to his children could be deducted from their respective inheritances.”

David's care became expensive, and Benita became trustee. Avram was adamant about continuing distribution and that he was fine with it being put on "The Permanent Record." After David’s death, Benita filed a Petition for instructions to equalize the distribution of assets from the trust, claiming that the disparity in lifetime distributions and transfers in favor of the other beneficiary should be deducted from their distributive share of the Trust and considered an advance on his inheritance. The trial court agreed with Benita, and Avram appealed. The appellate court held that the permanent record was a writing that satisfied the requirements of section 21135 because:

  • It was in the testator's hand.
  • It was contemporaneous.
  • Had no other purpose other than to equalize distributions between the children.

See Lifetime Transfers Considered an Advance on Inheritance, Probate Stars, January 8, 2020.

January 13, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 10, 2020

CLE on 2020 Tax Updates for Trusts and Estates

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a video webcast entitled, 2020 Tax Updates for Trusts and Estates, on Thursday, January 30, 2020 from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Get the Latest Information and Tools to Save Clients on Taxes

This incisive course will get you up to speed on the year's developments in estate planning and asset protection tax laws so you can make tactical decisions and provide cutting -edge representation. Let our esteemed faculty guide you through ongoing legislative developments, key laws and rulings so you can enhance your tax planning strategy and ensure compliant returns - register today!

    • Clarify recent changes in tax law and regulation and prepare for their potential effects.
    • Analyze the most important case law of the year to glean future threats and opportunities for your clients.
    • Hear about new tax tools to add to your arsenal.
    • Get an advance look at future developments coming down the pike.

Who Should Attend

This essential tax update is for attorneys. Accountants, tax professionals, wealth managers, trust administrators/officers and paralegals will also benefit.

Course Content

    • Current Relevant Federal Tax Laws, Rates, Exemptions
    • Trust Tax Deductions under TCJA: Core Changes and Clear Guidance
    • IRS Tax Forms and Procedures Updates
    • Unpacking the Section 199A Changes and Opportunities
    • SECURE Act and Its Effect on IRA Planning
    • Current IRS Guidance and Enforcement Initiatives
    • Cross-Border Tax Issues Every Estate Planner Needs to Know
    • Reassessing and Repairing/Replacing Old Tax Planning Techniques
    • Legal Ethics and Tax Planning
    • Looking Ahead

January 10, 2020 in Conferences & CLE, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sweethearts Forever. Then Came Alzheimer’s, Murder and Suicide.

2heartsRichard Shaver was a man that enjoyed planning ahead but not as far into the future as his final years. He was more flippant about the subject of his death, commenting that he wanted a party with booze in lieu of a funeral and even going so far as joking about overdosing on pills. He was adamant on one thing - he did not want to go to "The Place," his term for a nursing home, and he did not want to send his wife there, Alma, even after she was deteriorating from Alzheimer's disease.

The couple had known each other since they were children and had eloped shortly after high school. During their 60 years of marriage they raised three daughters, but Richard's focus and adoration was always on his wife. When Alma was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's he did not discuss it with his children, saying that he was "taking care of it." He refused in-home care, a cleaning service, or the offer of moving closer to one of his children to make things easier. When Alma's mind became so broken that she could no longer remember her husband and her children, she told a friend and neighbor, Valerie Dominioni, "We have to go away. You understand, don't you?" An a Sunday afternoon in June, while Alma was sleeping, Richard shot her in the back of the head before laying down and putting the barrel in his own mouth. 

Two weeks after their bodies were discovered, their granddaughter, Alissa Ryan, got married. The only note that Richard had left was addressed to her. “May you both have many years of happiness,” it read. “May life be good to you.”

See Corina Knoll, Sweethearts Forever. Then Came Alzheimer’s, Murder and Suicide, New York Times, December 29, 2019.

December 29, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Woman Who Lived to 105 Left Nearly $10 Million to Community Colleges

GiftEva Gordon of Seattle was a shrewd investor, buying up stock early in famed north-west companies such as Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Microsoft. She died last year at the ripe old age of 105 and just a month ago her estate just sent 17 community colleges across Washington state each $550,000. Many of the colleges were shocked as it was one of the largest donations the colleges have ever received.

John Jacobs, 61, Gordon’s godson and personal representative for the estate, said, “She was a very intelligent woman, meticulous record keeper, very organized, and had the wherewithal to buy stocks and hold on to them that a lot of people at that age didn’t really do too much." Surprisingly, though, she never attended college - something she regretted later in life, and regularly donated to and volunteered for children’s and educational programs.

Eva moved to Seattle after high school and worked as a trading assistant at an investment firm before marrying a stockbroker, Ed Gordon, in 1964. The couple was modest and frugal and did not have any children. Her fortune increased in the last few years due to the stocks and she bequeathed virtually all of her money to the community colleges, while a very small portion went to other educational or health entities.

See Hallie Golden, Woman Who Lived to 105 Left Nearly $10M to Community Colleges, The Guardian, December 27, 2019.

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

December 28, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

CLE on Effective Use of IRA Assets in Tax and Estate Planning After the Secure Act (Includes IRS Compliance Issues)

CLESeymour Goldberg is presenting a seminar entitled, Effective Use of IRA Assets in Tax and Estate Planning After the Secure Act (Includes IRS Compliance Issues), on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at Melville Corporate Center III, Master Conference Room, at 324 South Service Road, Melville, NY. Provided below is a description of the event.

Many taxpayers have accumulated a considerable amount of assets in their retirement accounts. These assets may be in their 401(k), another type of qualified plan, a 403(b) arrangement, a 457 governmental plan, a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA.

Estate and income tax planning are more important than ever, especially under the Secure Act, when advising a client that has substantial retirement type assets. This program covers many of the rules that you need to know when implementing an estate plan for the client that has substantial retirement assets. IRS Compliance is now a major issue in retirement distribution planning for IRA owners and IRA beneficiaries.

Some topics included in this program:

    • Brand new world of retirement distribution planning
    • Effective date of changes in the rules
    • Transition rules and partial retroactive rule provisions
    • Retroactive effect on IRA trusts throughout the United States that have not been amended or redone
    • No grandfather rule for IRA trusts for IRA owners who pass away on or after January 1, 2020
    • Effective use of Roth IRA trusts going forward to save the day
    • New required beginning date o Special rules for special categories of beneficiaries
    • Use of 10 year trusts for designated beneficiaries
    • Use of a life expectancy trust plus 10 year bonus payout period for eligible designated beneficiaries
    • The 10 year rule versus the life expectancy rule plus the 10 year bonus rule (without trusts)
    • Repeal of maximum age rule for making traditional IRA contributions
    • The federal age of majority rule for children
    • Potential massive IRS penalties for not tracking the new rules
    • Need for new practitioner specialty (IRA Compliance Specialist)
    • Default beneficiary issues

For more information on how to attend the event, see here.

December 26, 2019 in Conferences & CLE, Current Events, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)