Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Anne Heche estate battle begins as ex James Tupper claims he was left in charge, not her 'estranged' 20-year-old son

HecheThe dispute over Anne Heche’s estate has begun to heat up over who should be in charge after the actress died intestate. Her eldest son, Homer, requested to serve as special administrator last month, however, now her ex is contesting Homer’s appointment.

James Tupper, the father of Heche’s youngest son, claims he has a “will” from January 2011 that was given to him “in case [Anne] dies tomorrow.” Additionally, he has expressed numerous reasons why he does not believe Homer is equipped for the job, one being that he was estranged from his mother when she died.

The 2011 “will” is an email sent from Heche to Tupper and entertainment attorney, Kevin Yorn, with the request that it serve as her final wishes until formal papers could be drawn up. This email dictates that her assets would go to Tupper to manage and divide amongst her sons equally until they reach the age of 25. At that time, they could sell her real estate and split the money.

Another shocking claim to arise from Tupper's filing is that Homer has changed the locks on his mother’s apartment where she and her younger son resided, and has listed the residence as “vacant” in the court filing. Tupper notes this is “concerning as her home had previously been full of furnishings, jewelry, valuables, files, and records and their removal was in no way authorized by the Court.”

For more information see Suzy Byrne “Anne Heche estate battle begins as ex James Tupper claims he was left in charge, not her 'estranged' 20-year-old son” Yahoo! Entertainment, September 16, 2022.

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

September 21, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 2, 2022

Anne Heche died without will, son files to control estate

Heche

Actress Anne Heche, who was declared brain dead on August 11, died as the result of a car crash that had occurred a week prior. She died without a will. 

Her oldest son, Homer Heche Laffoon, has filed papers to control her estate in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday. Laffoon, 20, also lists his younger brother and his mother’s former partner, James Tupper, as heirs. In addition, he filed a petition asking that someone be appointed to represent his  brother’s interest in court. 

The document lists the value of the estate as unknown, which is not uncommon in initial filings.

For more information, seeAnne Heche died without will, son files to control estate,” AOL Entertainment, September 2, 2022.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law), David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney), and Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 2, 2022 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Prince estate value set at $156.4M years after his death

PrinceAfter a six-year long legal fight over the value of Prince's estate, the parties have agreed on its final value at $156.4 million. Originally, the administrator of Prince's estate, Comerica Bank & Trust appraised it for $82.3 million, while the IRS put the value at $163.2 million. 

Prince died at the age of 57 of a fentanyl overdose in April 2016. The artist died intestate, without a will. Prince's heirs consisted of six siblings, two of which have died since Prince's passing, and two others are in their 80s. 

Prince's estate will be administered evenly between Primary Wave, a New York music company, and the three oldest of the music icon's six heirs or their families. If the parties agree, estate administration could begin as early as February. 

See Ken Martin, Prince estate value set at $156.4M years after his death, Fox Business, January 15, 2021.

 

January 16, 2022 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Article: Emerging Trends in the Law of Succession in Kenya

Marion Shamallah recently published an article entitled, Emerging Trends in the Law of Succession in Kenya, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article: Estate planning

Family has been the basic unit of the society as espoused under article 45 of the constitution of Kenya. On the other hand the law of succession is greatly shaped by the laws governing family including marriage and children laws. As such with changes in the family structures and lass the law of succession has greatly shifted towards a positive direction to incorporate children born out of wedlock and cohabiting partners.

January 13, 2022 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Florida Probate & Intestacy Guides Available

MAP-OF-FLORIDA-743x5001The Florida Probate Law Group  has recently made available some useful materials regarding Florida probate law:

Chart to determine intestate heirs, and

A guide to Florida probate.

September 8, 2021 in Estate Administration, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 15, 2021

Article: Intestate Succession in Ghana before and after PNDCL 111, 1985

Joshua Kweku Aba recently published an article entitled, Intestate Succession in Ghana before and after PNDCL 111, 1985, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Estate planning

The study investigated intestate succession in Ghana before and after PNDCL 111, 1985. To satisfy the objectives of the research, qualitative research was held. The main objective is to find out if PNDC Law 111 fully promotes women’s property inheritance rights by relating it to international human rights protocols. The research is important because it highlights some of the weaknesses of law 111 on women’s rights of intestate property inheritance; and calls for necessary amendment or law reform. The Intestate Succession Act, 1985, (PNDC Law 111) was introduced in Ghana to curb the injustices, which the traditional customary practices mated of spouses after a man dies intestate. Before the coming into force of the Act people who died intestate had their self-acquired properties shared according to their family lineage. These customary practices normally rendered the children and the spouse of the deceased man with nothing and hence the introduction of the Law. The Law only becomes applicable when a man dies intestate. Upon all the significant successes the Law has chalked over the years, the Intestate Succession Act could not precisely address the veracity of polygamy. Where a deceased man in his lifetime had multiple wives, the courts interpret the succession law as granting the household chattels and one house to all of the deceased’s wives and children as tenants-in-common. If the woman was not lawfully or customarily married that woman may not be protected as the Law did not give any significant definition to who a spouse is as it does not include cohabitation. This is an area that the Parliament of Ghana needs to look at.

March 15, 2021 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Article: Texas Estate Planning Judicial Update: End of 2020 Edition

Gerry W. Beyer, recently published an article entitled, Texas Estate Planning Judicial Update: End of 2020 Edition, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Estate planning

This article discusses recent judicial developments (last half of 2020) relating to the Texas law of intestacy, wills, estate administration, trusts, and other estate planning matters. The discussion of each case concludes with a moral, i.e., the important lesson to be learned from the case. By recognizing situations that have led to time consuming and costly litigation in the past, estate planners can reduce the likelihood of the same situations arising with their clients.

March 4, 2021 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

New Hampshire Supreme Court Reverses Probate Court Finding That Son Was Not Pretermitted Heir

Estate planningIn In re Estate of Marie G. Dow, "the New Hampshire Supreme Court analyzed the pretermitted heir statute and case law to determine that decedent’s son was a pretermitted heir and entitled to his intestate share of his mother’s estate." Marie Dow executed her last will on June 30, 2014, when she lived in Massachusetts. Marie died in 2018 and lived in New Hampshire at the time. Marie's son Christopher Dow and ex-daughter in law Leslie Dow, another son, and granddaughter survived Marie. 

After Marie's death, her attorney filed her will in Massachusetts but did not attempt to open probate. Christopher Dow filed a petition for estate administration in New Hampshire, but the probate court would not act on the petition without the original will. A dispute over proper venue (Massachusetts or New Hampshire) followed. 

Probate was opened in New Hampshire and Marie's attorney was ordered to file the original will there.

Christopher then filed a motion claiming that he was a pretermitted heir under Marie's (his mother) will. Leslie, the beneficiary of the estate under the will, objected to the petition. 

The Court held that New Hampshire probate law applies despite the choice of law provision of a will, if the will disposes only of personal property.

The pretermitted heir statute, simply stated, holds that a child of the deceased not named or referred to in the decedent's will and who is not a devisee or legatee, shall be entitled to the same portion of the estate, real and personal, as they would if the deceased died intestate. 

The purpose of the statute is to "prevent a mistake or unintended failure by testator to remember the natural object of his or her bounty." 

In order for this statute to apply, the child must not be named or referred to in the will as it's purpose is prevent forgetfulness and not disinheritance. 

If the child is not referred to at all, it can be presumed that the it was not the testator's intent to disinherit the child. 

See New Hampshire Supreme Court Reverses Probate Court Finding That Son Was Not Pretermitted Heir, Probate Stars, January 28, 2021. 

February 2, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: Personal Representative’s Power To Pay Claims Extinguished After Three Years

Estate planningIn In re Estate of Kendall, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided "whether the personal representative of the Estate of Jacqueline Kendall was required to pay a creditor claim for reimbursement from the Commonwealth's MassHealth Program when the estate proceeding was commenced more than three years after Kendall died. The short answer: no." 

Kendall received about $105,000 in Mass Health Benefits before her death (Kendall died intestate in 2014). 

When Kendall died, she had a fifty percent interest in a house in Massachusetts and a portion of it was recoverable by MassHealth under Massachusetts law. In 2018, one of Kendall's heirs filed a petition for late and limited formal testacy and notified MassHealth. MassHealth then informed petitioner's counsel that it would file a notice of claim in the estate. 

The personal representative of the estate informed MassHealth that she could not pay the claim since more than three years had passed since Kendall's death and MassHealth objected.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that although there are exceptions to ultimate time limitations on estates, no such exceptions apply to this particular claim. Massachusetts personal representative power to pay claims is extinguished after three years, with no exceptions. 

See Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: Personal Representative’s Power To Pay Claims Extinguished After Three Years, Probate Stars, January 4, 2021. 

January 12, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Sorting Out Tony Hsieh’s Estate, From LLCs to Thousands of Sticky Notes

HsiehTony Hsieh, who recently passed away due to complications from smoke inhalation following a house fire, died intestate which has left his family scrambling. 

Apparently, inside Hsieh's mansion was found thousands of color-coded sticky notes plastered on the walls/ Some of them represented financial commitments that Hsieh had made to employees, friends, and local businesses. 

It appears that Hsieh wrote these notes himself in the months leading to his death and may function as informal contracts. This adds a complicating piece of the puzzle to his estate which was already complex and difficult due to the lack of a will. The estate is said to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Within the estate plan is about $70 million worth of real estate he recently purchased, which are spread across about a dozen LLCs; some of Hsieh's friends continue to live in these houses and condos. Another asset is a $30 million "angel" fund planned for tech startups and other businesses in Park City.

According to Hsieh's friends and others that were close to him, Hsieh was struggling with alcohol and drug abuse in the months prior to his death, which only adds more complexity to handling the estate. With the many sticky notes and writings left around Hsieh's home. it is unclear whether or not he was of sound mind when he recorded these writings or when he made recent investment decisions or employment agreements. 

See Kristen Grind & Katherine Sayre, Sorting Out Tony Hsieh’s Estate, From LLCs to Thousands of Sticky Notes, Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2020. 

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

December 16, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)