Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Inventor of 'Sourtoe Cocktail' Passes Away at 89, Leaves his Toes to the Bar

SourtoeDick Stevenson, the man behind the infamous drink the "Sourtoe Cocktail," passed away at the age of 89. His will stipulated that all 10 of his toes are to be left to the Dawson City Downtown Hotel's bar in Canada's Yukon Territory. Stevenson's daughter, Dixie, said “It brought him the most fame of anything he’s ever done.”

Stevenson, or Captain Dick, came up with the odd drink in 1973: a shot of whiskey garnished with an amputated, mummified human toe. The idea occurred to him after buying a cabin and finding that the previous owners had left behind a jar containing a preserved toe. The toe garnishment is not to be consumed, or the patron will have to cough up $500. When the toes are not in use on the rim of drinks, they are kept packed in salt behind the bar. So far, the bar has served the cocktail to over $93,000 customers.

A representative for the hotel released a statement, saying "The Downtown Hotel mourns the loss and celebrates the life of Captain Dick Stevenson, the originator of the Sourtoe Cocktail. He certainly was one of the Yukon’s most colourful characters and a tremendous ambassador for Dawson City. His passion, creativity and energy will be missed and we are grateful for the legacy he left behind. The Sourtoe Cocktail continues to make headlines around the world and puts Dawson City on the map. Rest in Peace Captain Dick!"

His ashes will also be on display at the hotel in a toe-shaped urn that he commissioned before his death.

See Michael Bartiromo, Inventor of 'Sourtoe Cocktail' Passes Away at 89, Leaves his Toes to the Bar, Fox News, November 18, 2019.

November 19, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Woman Celebrates 'Death' of $102G in Student Loans with Graveyard Photo Shoot

102KMandy Velez of New York recently killed off her student debt - all $102,000 of it. She was so ecstatic that she in fact celebrated the feat with a spooky funeral themed photo shoot in Manhattan’s Trinity Church Cemetery.

Velez accrued $75,000 in debt from California University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh by the time she graduated in 2013. After moving to the Big Apple, she likened her $1,000 a month loan premium as another rent payment. She made a goal that she would be debt-free before she turned 30 so that she could start saving up for a home and a future. So when she accomplished that lofty goal at only 27 by taking odd jobs such as babysitting and dog-walking, she wanted to show the world.

"I hope that if [others with student debt] are able, they’re inspired to tackle their student loans in the best ways that they can," Velez told GMA. "Or if people don’t have student loans, I hope that they understand the burden that it is on people who have them and the ridiculous things that it takes to finally kill them."

Outstanding student loan debt has surpassed $1.6 trillion in the U.S. - double what it was just a decade ago.

See Janine Puhak, Woman Celebrates 'Death' of $102G in Student Loans with Graveyard Photo Shoot, Fox News, October 15, 2019.

October 17, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prankster’s Pre-Recorded Funeral Message From the Grave Gives Family One Last Laugh

LaughingA father from Dublin, Ireland had his family play a pre-recorded message at his funeral to lighten the mood and make a number of the attendees laugh. Shay Bradley, a Defense Forces veteran, can be heard knocking and calling out - presumably from the coffin - before jokingly calling for the priest, saying he’s stuck in the box.

His daughter, Andrea Bradley, shared the message on social media where it has gone viral, writing that this was her dad’s dying wish. The short clip has now gone viral and the family has received many heart-felt messages.

“Myself and my Family are overwhelmed with the Amazing response and comments we have received regarding my dad's funeral, he truly is a legend and was the most amazing man!!! He would be overjoyed to know how many smiles and laughs he has given to every one. Thank you all,” Andrea wrote.

See Alexandra Deabler, Prankster’s Pre-Recorded Funeral Message From the Grave Gives Family One Last Laugh, Fox News, October 14, 2019.

October 17, 2019 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 30, 2019

Safeguarding Estate Planning Documents

HurricaneIn cases of severe weather such as hurricane and tornadoes, people can focus just on the moment. When evacuations are issued, people often leave their homes with a handful of possessions and the clothes on their backs. They may not think to grab their physical estate planning documents. All drama aside, it may be a good idea to back up the paper originals with electronically stored copies in a secure cloud.

However, if you can produce a signed copy of the will, there is usually statutory authority providing a means to prove a copy of a lost or destroyed will.

See Carol Warnick, Safeguarding Estate Planning Documents, Fiduciary Law Blog, September 9, 2019.

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

September 30, 2019 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 8, 2019

Friends Make a Pact To Retire and Die Together

ChampagneA band of seven women in China are living out an agreement made many years prior: to retire and live out their lives under the same roof after they all turned 60. The women have known each other for 20 years and just last year they pooled their money together to buy and renovate a large brick house in a village roughly an hour away from the city of Guangzhou.

Now featuring floor-to-ceiling glass windows with views of paddy fields, a tea room, a pool, and separate bedrooms upstairs, the house is the perfect place for the women to retreat to during their retirement. The women spend their time cooking, barbecuing, singing, and drinking tea under the moon. With each woman putting in work and mastering a different skill, the chances of fighting are diminished. 

See Marie Lodi, Friends Make a Pact To Retire and Die Together, The Cut, July 2, 2019.

Special thanks to Molly Neace for bringing this article to my attention.

July 8, 2019 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Nevada Trooper Pulls Over Hearse Carrying Corpse in Carpool Lane: Police

HearseA police officer in Las Vegas has to explain the High Occupancy Vehicle lane law to the driver of a hearse who had assumed the deceased person was included in the vehicle count.

“Yes, it’s a person, but they’re not in a seat and they’re not living and breathing,” the trooper reportedly said. “This body was in the rear cargo and that doesn’t qualify as a seat.” The driver was given just a warning, though.

Nevada Highway Patrol later issued a warning that passengers must be living, breathing people in order to be counted as occupants in cars using the high occupancy vehicle lane. The stop occurred amid increased enforcement of carpool lane violations.

See Bradford Betz, Nevada Trooper Pulls Over Hearse Carrying Corpse in Carpool Lane: Police, Fox News, July 3, 2019.

July 6, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 7, 2019

Testator's will demonstrates his contempt for his sisters and ex-wife

McConathyAttorney Richard "Tex" McConathy died on November 27, 2015 after living a full and interesting life including being wounded in battle in Viet Nam and receiving countless decorations and awards for his service.

Tex was the last person in Texas allowed to take the Texas Bar Exam without graduating from law school. His study of law under the mentorship of a judge, also his uncle, substituted for his law degree.

In his will dated April 22, 2004 and probated in Parker County, Texas in 2015, he demonstrated how he really felt about his sisters and ex-wife when he provided:

To Carol Webb Barnes, Marge McConathy, and Mary Ann Allen, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath equally among the three my cold dead ass so that each can kiss it from now until eternity. As for the rest of my estate, I figured that you took all that you could when I was alive so you will get nothing.

Special thanks to Paula Durant, Probate Auditor for Parker County, Texas Judge Pat Deen for bringing this fascinating case to my attention.

June 7, 2019 in Humor, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 17, 2019

Being Rich in America Depends on Where You Live

DenverA large influencer on how to answer the question of "How much money does it take to be considered wealthy?" is where the person asking the question resides. Being wealthy in Denver does not mean nearly the same thing as being wealthy in San Francisco, or in New York City for that matter. To be rich in the San Francisco Bay Area, a person needs to be worth $4 million, but if you ask baby boomers rather than the Average Joe, the number jumps to $5.1 million, according to Charles Schwab’s Modern Wealth Survey.

Almost everyone has heard that housing in San Francisco is hard to come by, and even then it is notoriously expensive. A ranking by housing website Trulia of the 100 largest metro areas found that, in late 2018, 81% of homes in the metro San Francisco area were worth $1 million or more. Across the entire country, only 3.6% homes were worth that much. Trulia reported that the percentage of homes worth $1 million or more in New York City and Washington, D.C. were 10.3% and 4.9%, respectively, far below that of the Bay Area.

Denver, far away from both coasts, had the lowest average dollar figure for what it would take to be thought of as wealthy, coming in at $2 million. 75% of people surveyed in Denver said that feeling personally wealthy is more about how they live their lives than about a particular dollar amount.

Better to be rich in Denver than average in San Francisco.

See Suzanne Woolley, Being Rich in America Depends on Where You Live, Financial Advisor, May 15, 2019.

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

May 17, 2019 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Family Inherits Field of Forgotten Ferraris

FOFA lawyer in Texas that also happened to be a car collector left behind a field of 13 Ferraris and other collectible cars after passing away of a serious illness several years ago. Previously he had put them into a rented warehouse, but after a missed payment due to being ill, the cars were moved to a nearby field. Among the beauties are a Testarossa, a 308 Quattrovalve, three 348s and other models.

Legal red tape caused the cars to remain in the field while the estate was processed, and by the time the vehicles were recovered they were in poor condition. Four of the documented cars - 2 Ferraris and 2 Rolls-Royces - are unaccounted for and are still have not been found.

Were they kept in good condition, the collection would likely have been worth over $1 million, but with the help of the organizer of an annual Ferrari Festival in Houston, Paul Cox, the family has quietly been able to find new homes for most of the cars with people who plan to bring them back to life.

See Gary Gastelu, Family Inherits Field of Forgotten Ferraris, Fox News, May 17, 2019.

May 17, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Man Arrested in Florida After Driving Stolen Truck with Caskets Inside

CasketFlorida Highway Patrol troopers received a call on Monday in Jacksonville to report that a Ryder moving truck had been stolen from a local casket company. When officers attempted to stop the truck after they spotted it, the driver took off.

The driver of the truck, identified as David Ayers, 39, led police on a mild ride down Interstate 295 for approximately 25 miles. “He was not driving in an erratic manner,” Sargent Dylan Bryan said, stating that he never went above the speed limit. The pursuit ended when the truck left the Interstate and stopped at a red light, where the troopers quickly apprehended the man.

Bryan said he was completely surprised to see the caskets in the storage compartment of the truck. Using a key from a funeral home just blocks away he was relieved to find out that all the caskets were empty. The truck also carried burglary tools and ripped out car wash vacuums. Ayers has been charged with auto theft, fleeing and eluding an officer, and driving while license suspended or revoked.

See Talia Kaplan, Man Arrested in Florida After Driving Stolen Truck with Caskets Inside, Highway Patrol Says, Fox News, May 13, 2019.

May 14, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)