Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Gabby Petito's family just won $3 million in a wrongful death suit against Brian Laundrie's estate — but they're not going to get anywhere near that number

Petito-last-insta-postA Florida judge has ruled for Gabby Petito’s parents in the amount of $3 million in the wrongful death suit brought against Brian Laundrie’s estate. Petito and her fiancé, Laundrie, documented their travels across the United States in Petito’s van for social media. The pair became well known after Petito’s disappearance, which sparked national news coverage last summer.

Petito disappeared in late August 2021 and Laundrie raised suspicion when he drove Petito’s van from Wyoming back to his parents house in Florida without her. He was deemed a person of interest, and once his remains and diary were discovered, the FBI closed their investigation concluding that Laundrie killed Petito.

Petito’s parents filed the lawsuit against Laundrie’s estate in May for “damages which exceed $30,000.” Laundrie’s estate totals less than $3 million, which was arbitrary number. In reality, his estate is worth about $20,000. Petito's parents, Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, plan to donate the money to the Gabby Petito Foundation, which they started to support and locate missing persons and provide aid to organizations that assist victims of domestic violence.

For more information see Rebecca Cohen and Natalie Musumeci “Gabby Petito’s family just won $3 million in wrongful death suit against Brian Laundrie’s estate— but they’re not going to get anywhere near that number”, Insider, November 17, 2022.

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

November 29, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

’Top Gun: Maverick’ Suit Can Move Forward Against Paramount

TopgunA judge has declined to dismiss the copyright lawsuit over Top Gun: Maverick, filed this summer by the family of Ehud Yonay. Last week, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson found that the family has well-pleaded facts that state viable claims for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and declaratory relief. The case is still in early stage of proceedings.

The suit revolves around a 1983 article that inspired the original Top Gun. Paramount originally obtained the exclusive rights to the article but the copyright reverted back to Yonay’s widow and and son in 2020. Paramount claims that the film was “pretty much done” prior to the January 24, 2020 termination date and insists the movie fell under “prior derivative works exception.”

Paramount now has until November 28 to formally respond to the initial complaint.

For more information see Joe Schneider “’Top Gun: Maverick’ Suit Can Move Forward Against Paramount”,  Bloomberg Business, November 10, 2022.

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

November 16, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Humanity hits the eight billion mark

Estate planningA baby born somewhere today, November 15, 2022, will be the world’s eight billionth person, according to United Nations projections. "The milestone is an occasion to celebrate diversity and advancements while considering humanity's shared responsibility for the planet," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

The growth is attributed to human development. People are now living longer due to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine. While this is largely seen as positive, there are concerns around environmental impacts of economic development. 

For more information see Humanity hits the eight billion mark”, Yahoo! News, November 15, 2022.

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

November 15, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 14, 2022

Tragic Aaron Carter ‘died without a will’ leaving the state to decide who will’ inherit his assets including $800,000 house which he had out on the market shortly before his death

Aaron carterFormer teen hearthrob and singer, Aaron Carter, passed away earlier this month. The 34 year old was found by his housekeeper on November 5th, and died without a will in place. This leaves the division of his estate up to the state of California.

Carter began performing at age nine, had three bestselling albums by age thirteen, toured with Britney Spears and performed with the likes of Liza Minelli, Gladys Knight, and Missy Elliott. He later transitioned into acting and went on to experience a series of public controversies and struggles in his young adult years. Insiders told reporters that Carter quickly spent whatever money he made.

It has been reported that Carter was advised by his attorney to make a will upon the birth of his 11-month-old son Prince, whom he shares with his ex girlfriend, Melanie Martin. Carter was looking to resolve his custody battle with Martin before entering rehab. He had previously admitted to having a huffing addiction.

For more information see Jack Newman “Tragic Aaron Carter ‘died without a will’ leaving the state to decide who will’ inherit his assets including $800,000 house which he had out on the market shortly before his death”, Daily Mail, November 14, 2022.

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

November 14, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 7, 2022

In a Run-Down Roman Villa, a Princess From Texas Awaits Her Next Act

Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi has been locked in a battle over her late husband’s estate with her three stepsons. Prince Nicolò Francesco Boncompagni Ludovisi died in 2018 leaving behind an epic noble family feud over his estate, which has gained attention from global media.

The princess is American born, the daughter of a Texas rancher who became a political opposition researcher, congressional wife, model, horror film starlet, and real estate agent. The Roman prince was her third husband, and since his death, the princess served as a tour guide of the villa they shared, which is a former hunting lodge in the heart of Rome that has been in the family for over 400 years. It boasts a Caravaggio on the ceiling, lavish frescoes by Guercino, works by Bril, Domenichino, Pomarancio, and Viola, and a statute attributed to Michelangelo. 

She insists her husband’s will gave her half of the entire estate and as a widow, she is in her right to continue to inhabit the villa, while the family says she owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid rent. An Italian judge, who has grown sick of the lawsuits over the estate, has ordered the villa be publicly auctioned. The original asking price in January was $531 million.

The villa was put up for auction a fourth time last month via a website that deals with bankruptcy property. The courts have stipulated that whoever purchases the property must cover restoration costs, estimated around $11 million.

For more information see Jason Horowitz “In a Run-Down Roman Villa, a Princess From Texas Awaits Her Next Act”, The New York Times, March 4, 2022 and “Rome villa with Caravaggio mural is up for auction a fourth time,” Wanted in Rome, October 17, 2022.

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

November 7, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The man who made Red Bull the world's best-known energy drink and amassed a $25 billion fortune has died aged 78

The Austrian billionaire and Red Bull cofounder, Dietrich Mateschitz, has died after battling a long illness. Red Bull is the world’s best-selling energy drink and helped Mateschitz amass a $25 billion fortune.

Mateschitz used this fortune to create a Formula 1 team that is known as one of the most successful teams in the sport. Team principal Christian Horner told reporters at the US Grand Prix last weekend in Austin, TX how grateful he is for Mateschitz for providing opportunities based on his vision for the sport. “Never be afraid to chase your dreams.” 

Stefano Domenicali, F1 CEO, said the F1 community was deeply saddened by his passing, recounting how Mateschitz was a widely respected visionary that helped transform the sport and was a “much-loved member of the Formula 1 family.”

Through Red Bull, Mateschitz also owned football clubs in Austria, New York, and Leipzig, and sponsored sports such as surfing, cliff diving, winter sports, and mountain biking.

For more information see Sam Tabahriti “The man who made Red Bull the world’s best-known energy drink and amassed a $25 billion fortune has died aged 78”, Business Insider, October 23, 2022.

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

October 26, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Masterworks by Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin Are Among the Treasures From Paul Allen’s $1 Billion Art Collection

Paul AllenMicrosoft co-founder Paul Allen left behind a $1 billion art collection when he passed. Several pieces from his collection are headed to auction at Christie’s New York, which will take place on November 9-10, 2022.

At least three of the works are French Post-Impressionist paintings, worth an estimated value of $100 million+ each. Amongst these are Paul Cezanne’s La montagne Sainte-Victoire and Vincent Van Gogh’s Verger avec cyprès and George Seuart’s Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version).

The Paul G. Allen Collection is one of the most valuable collections ever to be offered at auction and has a wide range of masterpieces. According to the Vice Chairmen of Christie’s Americas, "I can’t think of another collection that compares." The collection will be on exhibition in October, with stops in Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, London, Pairs and New York.

For more information see  Fang Block “Masterworks by Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin Are Among the Treasures From Paul Allen’s $1 Billion Art Collection," Barrons PENTA, September 23, 2022.

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

 

 

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

Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Queen’s clothes and jewels: Who inherits her enormous collection?

QueenWhile many have been talking about Queen Elizabeth’s $447 million fortune and how it will be divided amongst members of the Royal family, many are curious what will happen to her large collection of clothing and jewelry. Royal experts believe her wardrobe will be split primarily between Kate Middleton and Queen Consort Camilla, with Middleton having first choice.

The late Queen had a famously colorful sense of style and many of her most memorable outfits will be taken by a royal trust for future display in museums. It is anticipated that her wedding gown, coronation gown, Jubilee ensembles, and coats and hats worn for royal weddings will join the Historic Royal Palaces Collection which also preserves pieces from Queen Victoria and Princess Diana. 

For more information see Andrew Court “The Queen’s clothes and jewels: Who inherits her enormous collection?” New York Post, September 23, 2022.

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

September 24, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Billionaire No More: Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company

Yvon ChouinardYvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, has given away the company. Rather than selling or taking it public, Chouinard and his family have transferred their ownership to a specially designed trust and nonprofit organization.

Valued around $3 billion, company’s voting stock was transferred into the Patagonia Purpose Trust, equivalent to two percent of the overall shares. It will be overseen by members of the family and their closest advisors with the intention of running a socially responsible business dedicated to giving away its profits.

The remaining 98 percent of Patagonia was donated to the nonprofit, Holdfast Collective, which will be the recipient of all profits to be put towards battling climate change. The family chose to do so with no charitable deduction, receiving no tax benefit from this move. They did so with the hope of influencing a new form of capitalism.

The company has given away 1 percent of sales to grass roots environmental activists for decades, but as sales have soared, the Chouinard family wanted to make a change. A small group of Patagonia lawyers and board members explored a range of options, which included selling the company, turning it into a cooperative with employees as owners, or becoming a nonprofit. However, none of these options could accomplish all of the Chouinard’s goals until they reached the current solution.

For Mr. Chouinard, it provides a peace of mind about what will happen to the company once he is gone. “I feel a big relief that I’ve put my life in order… For us, this was the ideal solution.”

For more information see David Gelles “Billionaire No More: Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company” The New York Times, September 14, 2022.

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

September 15, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Queen’s lying-in-state: The symbolism and ceremony

Queen CoffinEarlier today, the Queen’s coffin made the slow journey from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall in a ceremonial processional as thousands of mourners lined the streets to pay their respects. The Scots Guards and Grenadier Guards played the procession at a slow pace of 75 steps per minute, which is reserved for sombre occasions. The Queen’s family followed behind the coffin on foot. 

The Queen’s closed coffin is draped in the Royal Standard and Imperial State Crown where she will continue to lie ins state for the next five days. Each corner of the platform is guarded in continuous vigil by soldiers from the Royal Household. 

As the first in line to the British Throne, Prince William is now considered a much wealthier man. Because Royal wills are not made public, the public only has an estimation of the Queen’s estate, which is made up of her jewels, art collection, investments, and residences. Much of the family’s fortune is made up of the Crown Estate, which now belongs to King Charles as reigning monarch. A slice of the Crown Estate is returned to the government called the Sovereign Grant.

The Sovereign Grant can only be spent on royal duties, and King Charles nor his heirs are permitted to benefit from the sale of assets in their duchies. Any large sales must be approved by the UK Treasury and all profit must be reinvested back into the estate.

For more information see Anna Cooban  Prince William just inherited a 685-year-old estate worth $1 billion” CNN Business, September 14, 2022 and The Visual Journalism Team “Queen’s lying-in-state: The symbolism and ceremony” BBC, September 14, 2022.

September 14, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)