Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Surfside Condo Collapse Victims Reach $997 Million Settlement

Champlain towersNearly a year after he catastrophic condominium collapse, a $997 million settlement was reached to compensate families of the victims. The Champlain Towers South condominium collapse killed 98 people in Surfside, FL in June of last year.

Victims are relived that a settlement has been reached, but have expressed that no amount of money will bring back loved ones. How the money will be dividing amongst the relatives of the 98 victims is yet to be determined.

Unit owners will also be compensated $83 million from funds generated by the sale of the land where the building once stood. As determined by a prior settlement, condo owners were released from any liability for negligence in the buildings maintenance.

Judge Michael A. Hanzman, of the Circuity Court in Miami-Dade County, would like to finalize the settlement before the one year anniversary.

For more information:

See Patricia Mazzei, “Surfside Condo Collapse Victims Reach $997 Million Settlement”, New York Times, May 11, 2022.

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

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

Monday, May 9, 2022

Labor Department Criticizes Fidelity’s Plan to Put Bitcoin on 401(k) Menu

CryptoThe Labor Department has expressed concerns about retirement security as Fidelity Investments plans to allow investors to put bitcoin into their 401(k) accounts. Despite the hype surrounding cryptocurrency, there is concern about the volatility in prices and the lack of regulatory framework at this stage in development.

Fidelity is allowing 23,000 companies to add bitcoin as an option to 401(k) services, allowing workers to allocate as much as 20% of their nest eggs in bitcoin. Employers have the ability to reduce this threshold.

Fidelity asserts their commitment to evolving and broadening digital assets across investor segments and the belief that technology is part of the financial industry’s future.

For more information:

See Anne Tergesen, “Labor Department Criticizes Fidelity’s Plan to Put Bitcoin on 401(k) Menu”, The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2022.

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

May 9, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Labor Department Criticizes Fidelity’s Plan to Put Bitcoin on 401(k) Menu

CryptoThe Labor Department has expressed concerns about retirement security as Fidelity Investments plans to allow investors to put bitcoin into their 401(k) accounts. Despite the hype surrounding cryptocurrency, there is concern about the volatility in prices and the lack of regulatory framework at this stage in development.

Fidelity is allowing 23,000 companies to add bitcoin as an option to 401(k) services, allowing workers to allocate as much as 20% of their nest eggs in bitcoin. Employers have the ability to reduce this threshold.

Fidelity asserts their commitment to evolving and broadening digital assets across investor segments and the belief that technology is part of the financial industry’s future.

For more information:

See Anne Tergesen, “Labor Department Criticizes Fidelity’s Plan to Put Bitcoin on 401(k) Menu”, The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2022.

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

May 9, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Betty White’s Longtime L.A. Home Lists for $10.755 Million, as Her Carmel House Closes for Well Over Ask

Betty whiteFour months after the death of Betty White, her estate sold one of her California homes for $10.775 million, well over its $7.95 million asking price. The three story home in Carmel has ocean view and sits on a 0.3 acre lot. Ms. White and her husband, the late Allen Ludden, purchased the land in 1978 for $170,000 according to property records. They finished building the home in 1981.

The estate is also listing her primary residence, a five-bedroom home in the Brentwood area of Lost Angeles. 

For more information, see Sarah Painter, Betty White’s Longtime L.A. Home Lists for $10.755 Million, as Her Carmel House Closes for Well Over Ask”, Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2022.

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

April 30, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 29, 2022

Cher's $1 Million Royalty War With Sonny Bono’s Widow Tested in Court

Cher

Earlier this week, Cher’s lawsuit against Mary Bono for unpaid royalties had its first major court hearing. Cher claims that the Bono Collection Trust is attempting to terminate her 50% share of the composition and recording royalties she was awarding in her 1978 divorce from Sonny Bono. 

According to Bono’s widow, that 50% stake expired with the rights flowing back to Sonny’s heirs. “Sonny could grant Cher his then-current rights, including a 50% royalty interest in his copyrights. Sonny could not however, have signed away his heirs’ future rights of termination.” Bono contends that the federal Copyright Act allows her to terminate the right to royalties that Sonny signed over to Cher during their divorce settlement.

U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt gave both sides two weeks to file further arguments ahead of his ruling.

For more information:

See Nancy Dillon, "Cher's $1 Million Royalty War With Sonny Bono's Widow Tested in Court", Rolling Stone, April 25, 2022.

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

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Amanda Bynes files to terminate conservatorship after nearly 9 years

AmandaAmerican actress Amanda Bynes has filed to end her conservatorship, confirmed by her attorney David A. Esquibias. 

The retired actress, known for her roles in Hairspray, She's the Man, and All That, filed to terminate the conservatorship of her person and her estate in a petition submitted at the Ventura County Superior Court. 

Bynes, 35, is currently working on a degree at California's Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and believes she no longer needs protection from the court, as she believes her condition has vastly improved. 

In 2013, Bynes had a series of troubles including multiple DUI  arrests, a drug related arrest, shoplifting allegations, and even set fire to a stranger's driveway. Bynes's mother, Lynn, currently oversees the conservatorship and has done so since 2013 when Bynes was hospitalized on an involuntary psychiatric hold. 

In 2020, the Nickelodeon star celebrated 18 months of sobriety, telling Paper Magazine, that substance abuse was the core of her problems. 

Although Bynes's conservatorship was extended to 2023, her attorney believes that the legal arrangement could "be terminated at any time for good cause." 

A hearing regarding the conservatorship is set for March 22. 

See Suzy Byrne, Amanda Bynes files to terminate conservatorship after nearly 9 years, Yahoo Entertainment, February 25, 2022. 

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

March 1, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 3, 2022

63rd Anniversary of the "Day the Music Died"

Day_music_diedWriting this blog from Lubbock, Texas, today is especially significant as the 63rd anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly (a Lubbock native), Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.), and the plane's pilot.

Like most Americans, Buddy Holly died intestate.

February 3, 2022 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving_5
Happy Thanksgiving!!

November 25, 2021 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Covid Forcing Wealthy To Speed Up Business Succession Plans, Retirement

COVIDThe Covid crisis had a significant impact on all sorts of businesses. Many of us heard of and witnessed firsthand the negative impact Covid had on small businesses, and even wealthy businesses.

One positive consequence that was created out of the Covid crisis was the push for wealthy business owners to "hasten retirement and speed up succession plans."

The "Success and Succession" study, "which looked at the impacts of Covid on business decision making among high-and ultra-high-net-worth business owners, found that two-thirds reported that the pandemic accelerated plans to retire or sell their business." 

The Ipsos study surveyed 150 business owners with 2,500 employees, a net worth of about $2 million to $10 million and investable assets of more than $5 million. 

The research indicated that "21% of wealthy business owners applied for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, 21% closed branches or satellite offices, 19% laid off employees and half of wealthy business owners planned to sell their businesses." 

Also, the research showed that 34% of respondents retired early and 35% accelerated their succession plans. 

Most of the business owners (88%) plan to leave their businesses to a family member, including spouses, children and grandchildren. Many are confident (89%) that the next generation will be a successful steward of their business, the survey found.

It is clear, based on the research, that the Covid crisis forced wealthy business owners to weather challenges that they may not have seen coming. Uncertain times are a great reminder of why it is always a good thing to have a plan, along with an advisor to help you create that plan and adhere to it in times of stress. 

See Jacqueline Sergeant, Covid Forcing Wealthy To Speed Up Business Succession Plans, Retirement, Financial Advisor Magazine, September 17, 2021. 

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

October 6, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Louisiana morns passing of Max Nathan, an Estate Planning Titan

NathanAlthough a never had the honor of meeting Max Nathan, his reputation as Louisiana's estate planning expert was widespread. It is with great sadness that I report of his passing on August 22, 2021.

To read about the career of this amazing lawyer, scholar, and teacher, I commend to you John Pope, Max Nathan, lawyer, Shakespeare scholar who found error in Louisiana law, dies at 86, Times-Picayune (Aug. 24, 2021). 

August 25, 2021 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)