Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, January 20, 2023

Ivana Trump's $34 Million Estate Gives Insight to How She Felt About Ex Donald Trump Before She Died

Ivana-trump-3Ivana Trump passed away last July leaving behind a $34 million estate. The division of her assets has become a matter of public record and has given the public some insight into the Trump family dynamic.

Ivana’s three children Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric, are the main beneficiaries of her estate. However, she did leave a property to her fourth husband, Rossano Rubicondi, who predeceased her in death. She also left her Yorkshire Terrier, Tiger Trump, and a $1 million condo to her former nanny, Dorothy Curry. After serving as a nanny to Ivana’s children, Curry became a close friend and confidant and spoke at the funeral last July.

According to probate records, Ivana claimed Miami-Dade County, Florida as her permanent residence, and the division of her estate was completed late last year.

For more information see Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert “Donald Trump got nothing in Ivana Trump’s will— but she left her ex-nanny a $1 million condo”, Yahoo! News, January 17, 2023 and Kristyn Burtt “Ivana Trump’s $34 Million Estate Gives Insight to How She Felt About Ex Donald Trump Before She Died”, Yahoo! Life, January 16, 2023.

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

January 20, 2023 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

ACTEC Recent Updates

ACTEC recently shared the second podcast in the 4-part podcast series, “An Illuminating Look at Closely Held Entities.” 

ACTEC Trust and Estate Talk  (podcast series for professionals)

4-Part Podcast Series: An Illuminating Look at Closely Held Entities

This podcast series continues with Part 2: Formation of a Closely Held Entity. ACTEC Fellows Miriam W. Henry and Kevin Matz discuss issues critical to the formation of LLCs and limited partnerships. The two remaining podcasts in the series will be shared over the next two weeks, and will cover administration, and possible liquidation. Stay tuned!

January 20, 2023 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

The Getty Family’s Trust Issues

Estate planningThe Getty family has gone to battle against a former financial advisor, Marlena Sonn, who has given the world a glimpse inside the workings of the Getty dynasty. The dispute began over a tax strategy rooted in the physical geography of family members to avoid paying California taxes. 

Sonn built her career by representing progressive, ultra-high-net-worth millennials and women in an industry known for its “bro culture,” and helps her clients align their financial strategy with their progressive ideologies. She was connected to Gordon Getty’s daughters Sarah and Kendalle, and built strong personal relationships with them over an eight year period likened to that of mother-daughter relationships.

The falling out began when she wrote the sisters about her concerns over a tax strategy deployed by the family. Around this time, she was removed from her position at the corporate entities that represented the sister's interests in Pleiades Trust and during severance negotiations, the personal relationships soured. As the negations further declined, Sonn filed suit in the Eastern District of New York.

Darien Shanske, a law professor at U.C. Davis, has characterized the Gettys’ tax approach as “aggressive, obnoxious tax planning.” It appears the strategy might simply be taking their chances with California’s version of the IRS, the Franchise Tax Board. Like many state agencies, F.T.B. can only take on so many complex cases, and with current legal uncertainties and a well-financed opponent, F.T.B. may just decide to settle rather than rigorously pursue the family.

Everyone involved has felt the ramifications of the falling out. Sarah Getty told reporters that this has impacted her ability to trust those around her, while Sonn’s career in finance is virtually over.

For more information see Evan Osnos “The Getty Family’s Trust Issues”, The New Yorker, January 16, 2023. 

Special thanks to Kent D. Schenkel (Professor of Law, New England Law) and Deborah Matthews (Virginia Estate Planning Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

January 17, 2023 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Lisa Marie Presley leaves behind a lucrative Graceland — and a complicated financial legacy

LMPresleyElvis Presley earns more in death than many people will ever see in a lifetime, collecting everything from his music catalog to his likeness. The death of Lisa Marie Presley, his only child, could mean changes in the estate.

The property trust for his iconic Memphis, Tennessee mansion, Graceland, will now go to Lisa Marie’s children. Representatives said that nothing will change the operations. Presley is survived by her three daughters, Riley Keough and Harper, and Finley Lockwood. Graceland is also home to Elvis’ costumes, cars, awards, and other personal possessions.

When a single asset owner deceases and their assets go to multiple people there can be complications. Each new beneficiary may have different desires and needs, including opting to sell their assets and cash out instead. The deciding factor could ultimately be how closely Elvis’ descendants want to keep control of his legacy — or at least, in Graceland, its physical manifestation.

For more information see , “Lisa Marie Presley leaves behind a lucrative Graceland — and a complicated financial legacy”, The Los Angeles Times, January 14, 2023. 

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

January 15, 2023 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 14, 2023

The Mega Millions winning ticket for the $1.35 billion jackpot was sold in Maine. Here are disappointing stories that reveal what it's really like to win the lottery.

LotteryOne lucky winner in Maine won the $1.35 billion Mega Millions jackpot on Friday. While many people dream of winning the lottery, there is a dark side to coming into a windfall of sudden wealth if you are not careful.

Financial advisors warn that before turning in the ticket there are some precautions you should take. This includes taking a deep breath and then hiring an attorney, tax specialist, and financial advisor to guide you through this life-changing event.

Previous winners have warned about friends who will suddenly try to take advantage of the newfound wealth. Sandra Hayes of Missouri, who won the lottery in 2006, found that many acquaintances came out of the woodwork and were more interested in her wealth than her friendship. Another 2002 winner from West Virginia reported being in greater danger of being robbed due to the community knowing he won the money, and William Post, a 1988 winner in Pennsylvania, was pursued by a hitman hired by his brother hoping to gain his winnings upon his death. 

Another risk is the likelihood of bankruptcy. Lotto winners face an increased risk of bankruptcy due to the vast amounts of credit suddenly available. This leads to overspending and subsequent financial downfall. Hiring the right financial team can help prevent this.

For more information see Katie Canales and Katie Balevic, “The Mega Millions winning ticket for the $1.35 billion jackpot was sold in Maine. Here are disappointing stories that reveal what it’s really like to win the lottery.”, Yahoo! News, January 14, 2023. 

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

January 14, 2023 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 13, 2023

Jeff Beck, Guitarist With a Chapter in Rock History, Dies at 78

Jeff BeckLegendary guitarist, Jeff Beck, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 78 after contracting bacterial meningitis. His family confirmed the news on his website.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician and eight-time Grammy winner rose to stardom in the 1960s with the supergroup The Yardbirds and continued to have an illustrious career until the time of his passing. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time and famously had fingers insured for £ 7 million. At the time of his death, Beck’s net worth is estimated to be $18 million.

For more information see Jim Farber, “Jeff Beck, Guitarist With a Chapter in Rock History, Dies at 78”, The New York Times, and Jack Wright “What locals said about Jeff Beck, The Daily Mail, and “Jeff Beck Net Worth 2023”, SSSAMITI.org, January 12, 2023. 

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

January 13, 2023 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lisa Marie Presley, Singer and the Only Child of Elvis, Dead at 54

LMPresleyLisa Marie Presley, singer, and the only child of Elvis Presley, died on Thursday at the age of 54. Her mother, Priscilla Presley, released a statement confirming the news Thursday evening shortly after reports that her daughter was rushed to a hospital in Calabasas, California.

As the only child of Elvis, Lisa Marie Presley was the sole beneficiary of her father’s massive estate, which she received on her 25th birthday. A few years later she turned Graceland into a museum, which was a massive hit with the public. This increased the value of the estate to $100 million.

By 2004, the estate was in debt to the tune of $25 million. Presley agreed to sell 85 percent of the business, which absolved her of the debt, and earned her another $53 million in cash. However, during her divorce from her fourth husband, Michael Lockwood, it became public knowledge that she was $16.7 million in debt, with total liquid assets of less than $20,000 and an additional $500,000 in credit card debt.

Presley is survived by her mother, Priscilla, and children Riley Keough, Finley Aaron Love Lockwood, and Harper Vivienne Ann Lockwood. Her son Benjamin Keough died by suicide in 2020.

For more information see Charisma Madarang “Lisa Marie Presley, Singer and the Only Child of Elvis, Dead at 54, Rolling Stone; Distractify Staff “What Was Lisa Marie Presley’s Net Worth Before Her Passing?, Distractify; “Lisa Marie Presley Got a Shocking Net Worth— More About Her Here!, Country Thang Daily, January 12, 2023 and TMZ Staff “Lisa Marie Presley MY EX WON’T LET ME MOVE ON… Make Me Single, Judge!!!” TMZ, March 5, 2021.

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

January 13, 2023 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Scam alert: 'Will Mills' targeting Arizonans who are estate planning

Estate planningThe process of going through probate can be time-consuming, expensive, and overwhelming for many. Scammers are well aware of this and use this knowledge to lure people into what has become known as “Will Mills.”

This predatory practice was common in California about 20 years ago and has now become a widespread issue in the state of Arizona. They advertise living trusts for prices as low as $699-$900, however, there is a catch. After gaining access to your financing information, they try to sell more expensive, and unnecessary, insurance products that inevitably drain the assets of unsuspecting customers.

For more information see Nohelani Graf “Scam Alert: ‘Will Mills’ targeting Arizonans who are estate planning, KGUN9 Tucson, January 10, 2023.

January 12, 2023 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Former Colorado funeral home owner sentenced to 20 years for selling body parts

Estate planningMegan Hess, a former Colorado funeral home owner, was recently sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for defrauding relatives of the dead, along with her mother who was sentenced to 15 years. The mother-daughter duo used the access their funeral home business provided to dissect, steal, and sell body parts of over 560 corpses. 

This case was triggered after a 2016-2018 Reuter investigative series about the sale of body parts in the United States, which is a virtually unregulated industry. Former employees told Reuters about the unauthorized dismemberment of bodies and the forged donor forms used by Hess and Koch. Once the series was published, the FBI raided their business.

Hess’ attorney says that her client has been unfairly vilified as a “witch” and a “monster” rather than considering the traumatic brain injury she experienced at age 18 which left her a “broken human being.” U.S. District Judge Christine M. Arguello said that this was the most emotionally draining case she had experienced, noting the emotional pain experienced by family members and next of kin.

For more information see John Shiffman “Former Colorado funeral home owner sentenced to 20 years for selling body parts, Yahoo! News, January 3, 2023.

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

January 11, 2023 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)