Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Glen Campbell's Children End Effort to Contest Will

GlenThree of country singer Glen Campbell's children have dropped their fight to contest the validity of two wills that exclude them from any inheritance. Glen Campbell passed away in August of 2017 after a battle with Alzheimer's. He was 81.

Travis, Kelli, and Wesley Campbell contested the singer's capacity to agree to the 2001 and 2006 wills that omit them, arguing undue influence, but agreed to dismiss their complaint in Davidson County Probate court according to the Tennessean.

A 2006 will was filed by Campbell's widow Kimberly, who was named executor of his estate. That will lists Kimberly and five other children as beneficiaries.

See Glen Campbell's Children End Effort to Contest Will, Fox News, November 21, 2018.

December 1, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Future of Aging Just Might be in Margaritaville

MargTimes are changing. The fastest growing age demographic in America is now between the ages of 85-94. People are living longer, having less children, and less immigrants are coming. The Census Bureau predicts by the year 2034, people over the age of 65 will outnumber those under 18 for the first time. This shift is evidence around the globe.

Senior citizen communities that are formed for reasons beyond religion, military, and failing health may be the secret to enjoying a person's golden years. The recently built Maragitaville in Daytona Beach, Florida, promises fun, sun, and camaraderie for those "55 and better." But it comes with a hefty $10,000 deposit and monthly expenses, which the majority of older Americans cannot afford. 30% of those 65 and older have an annual income below $23,000, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the least expensive house in Maragitaville is easily 10 times that.

But the change is still brewing: There are cruise ships and floating condos that cater to the wealthy; the Villages, outside of Orlando, has dozens of golf courses and feature enrichment programs; University of Arizona is developing a 20-story senior-living facility it calls “the world’s coolest dorm.” Can redesigning the physical environment where seniors live can redefine the way we experience aging itself? The mood of these facilities are vastly different. No more set times with drab cafeterias. Now there are come and go restaurants, delis, and take out joints is these communities, giving a level of freedom that was previously hidden away.

See Kim Tingley, The Future of Aging Just Might be in Margaritaville, New York Times, November 17, 2018.

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

November 27, 2018 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Prince's Estate Wants to Trademark the Color Purple

Prince TOP TENPrince reportedly loved the color purple, referring to it as his favorite color and naming his most famous album Purple Rain. Now, the late singer's company, overseen by his estate, has filed an application earlier this month with the US Patent and Trademark Office to stake ownership in the color that he cherished so much. Specifically, the estate wants to hold exclusive rights to shades near Love Symbol #2, the paint color Pantone created last year in memory of Prince.

But can a person or company own a color? In certain ways it is possible, especially within a particular industry. In 2012, a court in the US allowed shoemaker Christian Louboutin to trademark red soles, after the company sued Yves Saint Laurent over a YSL line that had a similar look. The court found that the soles were distinctive enough that other shoes could not have the same look without drawing a comparison.

Prince's estate has been particularly busy, filing dozens of similar petitions and applications to monetize the icon's image. Throughout his career, Prince was well-known for fiercely protecting his intellectual property. A critic of the internet, he sued YouTube and eBay in 2007 for hosting his copyrighted music.

See Paul Donoughue, Prince's Estate Wants to Trademark Purple, the Colour Synonymous with the Late Pop Singer, ABC News, October 30, 2018.

Special thanks to Logan Underwood for bringing this article to my attention.

November 1, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Humor, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

10 Things You Need to Know About Prenups

PrenupSinger Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin secretly were married last month, but as that was slightly shocking, the real bombshell was that there may not have been a prenuptial agreement between the love birds. Bieber's worth is estimated at $265 million while Baldwin is worth $2 million. The imbalance of wealth between the couple could have severe potential complications down the road if the passion burns out.

Here are things every person should know about prenuptial agreements.

  • They are private agreements between the parties and which state’s law to apply depends on where the marriage took place, where the parties live during the marriage and what law the agreement says to apply.
  • Fairness is paramount - both parties must disclose all assets and each must have their own attorney.
  • With fairness being so importance, many of the details depend on the unique facts and circumstances surrounding each couple, such as length of marriage.
  • Again, full disclosure is required, and many states may look at potential inheritances.
  • The idea of a prenup should be raised long before the marriage, not the week or night before.
  • Often, separate or prenuptial assets will be off limits under a prenuptial agreement.
  • Most prenups will allow each party to leave their separate property to whomever they want, while requiring some provisions for the surviving spouse.
  • Alimony could be stipulated or waived in an agreement. If it is not mentioned, then either party could still raise it in the event of a divorce.
  • A prenuptial agreement cannot provide for or limit child support or rights related to children. Courts and legislatures do not let couples bargain away the rights of their children.

See Christine Fletcher, 10 Things You Need to Know About Prenups, Forbes, September 18, 2018.

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

October 6, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Lesson in Intestacy from Tupac Shakur

TupacThe 22nd anniversary of the unsolved murder of Tupac Shakur, known as 2Pac within the rap world, recently passed on September 13th. Though his life and death may be steeped in controversy and mystery respectively, his estate can seen as a study in mult-generational estate planning, litigation, and management.

Shakur died in intestate in 1996 at the young age of 25, and his entire estate was inherited by his mother, Afeni Shakur. There was even litigation in 1997 from William Garland claiming to be Tupac absent father and demanding one half of the late rapper's estate. The court found that Garland had not demonstrated a substantial relationship nor support to be treated as an heir of Shakur's. His fatherly support over the artist's life consisted of $820, a bag of peanuts, and a ticket to "Rollerball."

Afeni Shakur, however, managed her deceased son's estate admirably, growing his estate both popularly and financially. Shakur's estate released six posthumous albums — including 1996’s The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory and 1998’s Greatest Hits, which are each certified 10 times platinum — a Broadway musical, several books, documentaries, clothing, and merchandise. Shakur is the first deceased performer to appear as a hologram (at Coachella in 2012). He is also the only artist to be nominated posthumously for the Grammy’s Best Solo Rap Performance award (in 2000 for Changes).

Afeni Shakur passed away in 2016 at the age of 69, but the estate had alternative fiduciaries so little is left up to chance and speculation. The words of Shakur’s homage to his mother ring true in his song dedicated to her: “Oh mama, I appreciate you. Although my shadow’s gone I will never leave you.”

See Cori A. Robinson, A Lesson in Intestacty from Tupac Shakur, Above the Law, September 11, 2018.

Special thanks to Carissa Peterson (Associate, Hrbacek Law Firm, Sugar Land, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 16, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

This Financial Document is a Matter of Life and Death — and Most of Us Don’t Have One

PrinceIn some aspects, the American public is still reeling from that fact not only did the great Aretha Franklin die of pancreatic cancer 2 weeks ago, the music great passed away without a will dictating her last wishes. The public outcry seems belated, however, as there was also surprise in 2016 at the passing of Prince without a valid will to divide the artist's assets.

In 2016 after the death of Prince, a Gallup poll showed that 44% of Americans had wills, down from 51% in 2015. A recently conducted survey by Caring.com revealed that the number has decreased again to 42% of Americans having made wills. “It makes people uncomfortable to think about dying, but I’m sorry — everyone is going to die at some point,” Laura Dixon, the editorial manager of Caring.com, told Moneyish.

A will can contain many things besides money, such as real property, funeral wishes, or guardianship of minor children. “There is this misconception that wills are only for rich, old people, but that is not the case,” said Dixon.

See Nicole Lyn Pesce, This Financial Document is a Matter of Life and Death — and Most of Us Don’t Have One, Moneyish, September 3, 2018.

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

 

September 6, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Like Prince, Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will. Why You Should Have One

IntestateThe tax and financial hassle of probate or intestacy can be huge, even for normal sized estates. When you add the extra zeros that go with a successful entertainer, the failures can seem much more agonizing. It is surprising the number of celebrities that had passed away in recent years without wills or with insufficient estate planning, including Prince, Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and most recently, Aretha Franklin. Due to deficient planning, each of these sizable estates were hit with legal or financial issues that could have been easily avoided.

Franklin had been ill, so writing a will would have been logical. But also a will allows assets to become public knowledge, and many people - not just celebrities - can be uncomfortable with this prospect. For very little money you can create a revocable trust that calls for the disposition of your assets in a manner in which you choose. You still write a will, but the will just says that everything you own goes via the revocable trust, and your assets remain out of the public eye.

See Robert W. Wood, Like Prince, Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will. Why You Should Have One, Forbes, August 23, 2018.

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

August 27, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Travel, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Tax Implications for Aretha Franklin's Estate

ArethaAfter the news of the passing of soul singer Aretha Franklin, headlines were soon dominated by the surprising realization that she did not leave any estate planning documentation. Her four sons filed in Oakland County Probate Court on Tuesday with the acknowledgement that their late mother had no will, and her niece, Sabrina Owens, asked to be appointed as the estimated $80 million estate’s personal representative. Under Michigan law, the assets of an unmarried person who dies without a will are divided equally among any children.

At this point it does not seem like the four sons have any conflicting views, though any family or any other conflict may appear later as extended relations or creditors materialize and seek a portion of her estate. Aretha Franklin's entertainment lawyer Don Wilson from Los Angeles commented, "I was after her for a number of years to do a trust. It would have expedited things and kept them out of probate, and kept things private."

The complete lack of any form of estate or wealth planning may strike her estate severely. The estate passes the exemption threshold for gift and estate tax under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and thus her heirs will likely owe a good chunk to Uncle Sam.

See David H. Lenok, Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will, Wealth Management, August 21, 2018; see also Brian McCollum and John Wisely, Aretha Franklin Left No Will or Trust, Court Records Show, Detroit Free Press, August 21, 2018.

Special thanks to Elizabeth R. Carter (A.N. Yiannopoulos Professor of Law, LSU) for bringing this article to my attention.

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

August 23, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Aretha Franklin Did Not Have a Will

Aretha3The late singer Aretha Franklin died last Thursday at her home in Detroit, Michigan. She is survived by her four sons, Clarence Franklin, 63, Edward Franklin, 61, Ted White Jr, 54, and Kecalf Cunningham, 48, as well as four grandchildren. The diva also passed away intestate, according to court documents, which means that the singer's estimated $80 million fortune will be split evening among her children in accordance with Michigan intestate law.

In light of Aretha Franklin's wealth and her family's circumstances, the fact that she died without a will is surprising. Her oldest son, Clarence, is special needs and will require specialized support for the rest of his life, and there were no guidelines to stipulate how this will be accomplished.

See Aretha Franklin had no Will: Singer Did Not Outline Plans for Her $80 million Estate Before Her Tragic Death, Daily Mail, August 21, 2018; see also Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will, TMZ, August 21, 2018.

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

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

August 22, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin Dies at 76

Aretha2Aretha Franklin, the famed American singer known as the 'Queen of Soul,' has died at the age of 76 in her home in Detroit, Michigan. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer according to her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn.

Ms. Franklin had unrivaled musical career, with 17 Top 10 pop singles and 20 No. 1 R&B hits, as well as 18 Grammy wins. She was awarded the lifetime achievement award 1994 and was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She sang at President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009 as well as at both the Democratic National Convention and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral in 1968. She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2005, the nation's highest civilian award.

Aretha Franklin is survived by her four sons, Clarence, Eddie, and KeCalf Franklin and Ted White, Jr., as well as grandchildren.

See Jon Pareles, Aretha Franklin, 'Queen of Soul,' Dies at 76, New York Times, August 16, 2018.

 

August 16, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)