Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, July 5, 2021

Britney Spears' petition to remove father from conservatorship denied by judge

SpearsA Judge signed a formal order denying Britney Spears' petition to remove her father from her conservatorship. 

The request was filed in November 2020 when Britney Spears' lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III, "said that the pop star was afraid of her father and she would not perform again if he was involved in the conservatorship."

In the ruling last week, the Judge approved Bessemer Trust as co-conservator but rejected the request to remove her father, Jamie Spears, from involvement. 

According to the papers signed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda J. Penney, "The conservatee’s request to suspend JAMES P. SPEARS immediately upon the appointment of BESSEMER TRUST COMPANY OF CALIFORNIA, N.A. as sole conservator of estate is denied without prejudice."

The ruling was signed a week after Britney Spears' shocking and compelling testimony about the trauma she has experienced over the years, allegedly at the hands of her father. 

See Andrea Dresdale & Lesley Messer, Britney Spears' petition to remove father from conservatorship denied by judge, Good Morning America: Culture, June 30, 2021. 

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

July 5, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Minnesota farmer concerned tax proposals could fundamentally change structure of family farms

Estate planningKirby Hettver, a fifth-generation farmer from DeGraff, Minnesota, expressed concerns about proposed changes to the estate tax. Hettver believes that the proposed changes could "fundamentally change the way family farms are structured. 

Hettver stated, “Obviously we don’t want to make any decisions without knowing a little more about what exactly they are going to end up with.”

President Biden's proposed changes, which include elimination of the stepped-up basis, will affect a lot of families, farm families included. The elimination of stepped-up basis would cause "inherited assets, like land, to be taxed upon the previous owner's death, and lower the estate tax threshold from $11.7 million to $500,000.

Hettver further stated, “In order for us to maintain (the farm) and pass it onto the sixth generation, based on the new policies if we need to make changes we’ll have to figure out what rules we’re playing by and play by them.”

See Mark Dorenkamp, Minnesota farmer concerned tax proposals could fundamentally change structure of family farms, Brownfield Ag News, June 25, 2021. 

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

June 27, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Britney Spears: ‘I Just Want My Life Back’

SpearsBritney Spears opened up to a Los Angeles Judge on Wednesday. She told the judge that "she had been drugged compelled to work against her will and prevented from removing her birth control device over the past 13 years. . ." 

Britney Spears further plead, “I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized. . . .I just want my life back.”

Wednesday was the first time Britney Spears had addressed the Court and the World in such a detailed manner, outlining the struggles she has faced for years. Britney Spears asked for the conservatorship arrangement with her father, Jamie Spears, to end without her having to be evaluated. “I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship if I can work. The laws need to change,” she added. “I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive. I don’t feel like I can live a full life.”

The "Free Britney" Movement has continued to gain traction and has imploded following Britney Spears' statements in court on Wednesday.

Britney Spears also said, “It’s embarrassing and demoralizing what I’ve been through, and that’s the main reason I didn’t say it openly,” Ms. Spears said. “I didn’t think anybody would believe me.” Ms. Spears said she had been previously unaware that she could petition to end the arrangement. “I’m sorry for my ignorance,” she said, “but I didn’t know that.”

See Joe Coscarelli, Britney Spears: ‘I Just Want My Life Back’, N.Y. Times, June 24, 2021. 

June 24, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Robert Indiana’s Estate Has Reached an Agreement With His Longtime Financial Backer After a Bitter Three-Year Legal Fight

Estate planningA three-year long legal dispute involving the legacy and estate of Pop artist Robert Indiana has finally come to an end. According to artnet news:

The artist's estate, the Star of Hope Foundation, which the artist established before his death, and the Morgan Art Foundation, which holds the copyright to some of Indiana's most famous works, have agreed to drop their overlapping claims and counterclaims. 

However, the parties did not end at dismissing their claims. The parties have also agreed to "mint a partnership in order to jointly promote the artist's work and foster growth in his market."

The dispute began in May 2018, which is the month Robert Indiana died. The Morgan Art Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against art seller Michael McKenzie and a number of other parties claiming that they "had isolated Indiana, taken advantage of him, and produced unauthorized reproductions of his work." 

Luckily, after three years the parties involved were able to come to an agreement and resolve the issues. 

See Eileen Kinsella, Robert Indiana’s Estate Has Reached an Agreement With His Longtime Financial Backer After a Bitter Three-Year Legal Fight, artnet news, June 14, 2021. 

Special thanks to Glen Yale for bringing this article to my attention.

June 23, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 21, 2021

Article: Organ Transplantation

David Orentlicher and Joaquin Cayon De Las Cuevas recently published an article entitled, Organ Transplantation, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Estate planning

It is commonplace to say that the success of transplantation therapies has led inexorably to their generalisation. Far from the experimental nature of the first interventions carried out in the middle of the 20th century, new technologies have produced an increase in survival and a substantial improvement in the quality of life. This new scenario has made transplants a therapeutic alternative that is increasingly demanded and used. Indeed organ transplantations may mean the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. No doubt that transplants are often the most cost-effective treatment, and sometimes the only way to treat liver, lung, or heart failure.

However, it should not be forgotten that the transplantation process is characterised by a series of factors that make it different from any other therapy. The most important is the persistent gap between the need for transplants and the availability of organs. The shortage of organs affects all countries. Official figures show that there is no country where the availability of organs is sufficient to meet the existing demand. In the United States, more than 100,000 people are on a waiting list for an organ, but only about 40,000 transplants were performed in 2019. In the case of the European Union, approximately 34,000 transplants were carried out in 2019, while ten patients died every day waiting for a transplant and nearly 60,000 patients remained on the waiting list at the end of the year. The existence of the organ shortage is inevitable, absent breakthroughs in synthetic organs or xenotransplantation.

Furthermore, there is enormous variability in the donation and transplant activity among different countries. The access to transplant therapies for patients varies depending on where they are in the world. These disparities in access reflect factors that are highly complex and sensitive, including legal (type of legislation and consent systems in place in the country), organisational (performance of national transplant programmes and teams), and cultural (such as the awareness in the general population, the health literacy or religious beliefs). Thus, for example, organ transplants are mostly carried out in countries that have reached a certain degree of development and have promoted the implementation of the systems that make them possible.

Still, as indicated, the shortage of organs is a global problem that affects all countries, both those that have implemented effective donation and transplant systems and those that still lack them. Accordingly, in the regulation of organ transplantation, considerable attention is paid to strategies for increasing the organ supply and policies for allocating the organs that are available.

June 21, 2021 in Articles, Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Article: IRS Guidance About the SECURE Act's Beneficiary Provisions Requires Revision

Albert Feuer recently published an article entitled, IRS Guidance About the SECURE Act's Beneficiary Provisions Requires Revision, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Estate planning

The IRS has presented its first and only guidance about how the SECURE Act changed the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) Rules. This was done in a detailed IRS guide for preparing 2020 returns, and an IRS FAQ web site that referenced the guide that had been released a day earlier. The SECURE Act limited the set of individual beneficiaries permitted to use their own life expectancy to stretch out the benefit distributions after the death of participant. Non-favored individual beneficiaries became subject to a 10-year rule similar to the 5-year rule upon which it is based. The 5-year rule does not require any benefit distributions before the end of the 5-year period, but requires distribution on or before the final day of the period. The 5-year rule is applicable to an estate or trust not treated as a pass-through entity when the participant died before attaining the participant’s required beginning date.

The IRS correctly treats the 10-year rule as replacing a disfavored individual beneficiary’s ability to use the beneficiary’s life expectancy to determine annual RMDs. The return guidance incorrectly describes the 10-year rule as requiring annual distributions in each year following the participant’s death even though the 5-year rule has no such requirement. Furthermore, if the participant dies after attaining the participant’s required beginning date, the IRS guidance prevents a disfavored individual beneficiary from continuing to use the participant’s life expectancy to determine annual minimum required distributions. The IRS does this even though such continuation would result in no further stretch-out of the benefit distributions, and an estate or trust not treated as a pass-through entity may so use the participant’s life expectancy. These limitations are not consistent with the stated purpose of the SECURE Act RMD provisions, the long-standing IRS regulations interpreting the RMD rules, or the amended RMD statute as a whole. Moreover, they may be readily avoided by well-advised participants.

June 19, 2021 in Articles, Current Events, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Barry Sherman’s will divided his estate among Barry and Honey’s four kids when they reach 35 years of age

Though Honey Sherman did not have a will, Barry Sherman had two. Documents that were unsealed by a court last week list assets of $124 million, which are outside of the majority of Sherman's estate that is wrapped up in his private companies. 

Barry Sherman was the founder and owner of Apotex, "a generic pharmaceutical giant." Barry and his wife Honey were well known Philanthropists. 

According to the estate papers, the Shermans' four children were left equal shares of a fortune that has been estimated to be around $10 billion. Though, the kids are not to receive their quarter shares until they reach age 35. 

According to The Star, this is only one of a few intriguing details "in a box of documents that has been sealed since shortly after the Shermans were murdered." Apparently, the Shermans who were one of the most generous couples in Canadian history did not have a provision for money to go to charity. 

When the Shermans were murdered in 2017, their kids were aged 43, 34, 32, and 27. Barry's will states that "until the child reaches 35 years of age, the trustees of his estate have the 'unfettered discretion' to make payments to the child for the 'maintenance, education, advancement in life' of the child. 

See Kevin Donovan, Barry Sherman’s will divided his estate among Barry and Honey’s four kids when they reach 35 years of age, The Star, June 11, 2021. 

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

June 17, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Britney Spears will appear remotely at conservatorship hearing

SpearsBritney Spears will appear at her next conservatorship hearing remotely—along with everyone else. 

On Monday the Los Angeles County Superior Court confirmed that "all parties, including Ms. Spears, are scheduled to appear remotely" for the June 23 hearing.

According to a press release, "[l]imited seating will be available in the courtroom and in an overflow courtroom with a live audio feed from the court." 

The June 23 hearing will be the first time Spears will address LA Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny. 

According to a source close to Britney Spears, her primary focus "is having her father, Jamie Spears, removed from the case." 

The source also said, "[s]he feels that ending the conservatorship entirely can always be discussed down the road, but right now the issue is Jamie."

Samuel D. Ingham III, Britney Spears' attorney stated that Spears was afraid of her father Jamie and "will not perform" going forward should he remain in charge of her career.

See Alex Heigl, Britney Spears will appear remotely at conservatorship hearing, Fox News, June 14, 2021. 

June 15, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 14, 2021

Prince Philip Reportedly Left £30 Million in His Will to “Three Key Staff” Members

PhilPrince Philip reportedly left a very generous gift to his closest staff members upon his passing in April. The majority of Prince Philip's estate was likely left to his wife, but a source close to Buckingham Palace revealed that "the Duke of Edinburgh also wanted to give something special to three key staff members he was very close with."

The three staff members include his private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller Bakewell, his page William Henderson, and his valet Stephen Niedojadio.

The three men helped take care of Prince Philip all the way up until his last days. Prince Philip's private secretary, Bakewell, regularly stood in for Philip at events when he was unable to attend. Henderson and Niedojadio would also take turns staying with him during his time at Wood Farm. And Henderson was with Philip during his last two days at Windsor Castle. 

In addition to the three staff members, Prince Harry is expected to receive an inheritance despite the "bombshell Oprah interview" that aired just before Philip's death. A source claimed that the interview should not have any impact on Harry's inheritance stating "that was all sorted out quite a while ago." 

See Emily Kirkpatrick, Prince Philip Reportedly Left £30 Million in His Will to “Three Key Staff” Members, Vanity Fair, May 28, 2021. 

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

June 14, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

You May Live a Lot Longer

AgingLife expectancy, especially in America, continues to evolve in unimaginable ways. Phil Mickelson just recently won the P.G.A. Championship. He's 50. Tom Brady just recently won the Super Bowl. He's 43. Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time is 39. And Joe Biden, the newly elected President is 78. 

Accordingly, our evaluation of age is changing as people are living longer and accomplishing things ate older ages. "The fraction of over-85s in the U.S. classified as disabled dropped by a third between 1982 and 2005, while the share who were institutionalized fell nearly in half."

The new adjustment in our conception of age has made researchers "distinguish between 'chronological age'—how old the calendar says you are—and 'biological age'—how old your body seems based on measurements of organ functioning and other markers." 

In this sense, people vary widely as there are factors lie genetics, environment, and lifestyle that come into play. 

Nonetheless, Americans seem to be aging more slowly than before. 

See David Brooks, You May Live a Lot Longer , N.Y. Times, June 3, 2021. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

June 9, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)