Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, February 22, 2021

At 93, She Waged War on JPMorgan—and Her Own Grandsons

BeverlyBeverly Schottenstein decided to waged war against JP Morgan, the biggest bank in the US; She was 93. 

Schottenstain said that her two grandsons that managed her money at JP Morgan "forged documents, ran up commissions with inappropriate trading and made her miss tens of millions of dollars in gains."

Schottenstein decided to stay an independent review of her accounts and what she found was devastating, "[h]er two financial advisers at JPMorgan Chase & Co., who oversaw more than $80 million for her, had run up big commissions putting her money in risky investments they weren’t telling her about. It was the latest red flag about the bankers. There had been missing account statements. Document shredding. Unexplained credit-card charges."

Against friends and family's advice, Schottenstein decided she was going to take action. After an arbitration hearing with her grandsons and JP Morgan, Schottenstein was awarded $19 million to be paid by her grandsons and JP Morgan. 

See Tom Schoenberg, At 93, She Waged War on JPMorgan—and Her Own Grandsons, Bloomberg Law, February 17, 2021. 

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

February 22, 2021 in Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chris Cornell’s Widow Sues Soundgarden Again, Claims Group Declined $21 Million Buyout

ChrisCornellChris Cornell, singer of Soundgarden passed away suddenly in 2017. Since his passing, his widow Vicky Cornell has sued the surviving bandmembers, claiming that the $300,000 buyout offer is "ludicrously low." 

Vicky has stated that she wants Soundgarden's holdings to be professional valued in order to determine what the fair amount would be. "Vicky Cornell claims that the bandmembers declined her offer of $21 million for their interest in the band partnership, and also declined a separate offer of $16 million for the rights to the group’s recorded-music rights." 

Vicky apparently attempted to settle the matter in December by offering Matt Cameron and Ben Shepard $4 million a piece for their interest in the Soundgarden partnership and then raised the offer to $7 million after her other offer was declined. 

Vicky's complaint body states, “The band members have knowingly offered only an infinitesimal fraction of the true worth of Chris’ interest in Soundgarden and certain related entities by making a ludicrously low offer. And, they know it. … This case relates to, and seeks a judicial valuation of, Chris’ interest in Soundgarden (the band owned by the partnership of the same name) and certain related entities, including SG Recordings, SMF, SG Productions, and LLM (collectively, the Soundgarden Related Entities’).”

Of course, the surviving bandmembers rebuttal by claiming that the buyout offer was fair and was accurate and calculated by "respected music industry valuation expert Gary Cohen." 

See Jem Aswad, Chris Cornell’s Widow Sues Soundgarden Again, Claims Group Declined $21 Million Buyout, February 17, 2021. 

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

February 22, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 21, 2021

She won $188M Powerball. Now her ex-fiance is suing her from prison, NC lawsuit says

LotteryholmesMarie Holmes was working five jobs when she won the $188 million Powerball jackpot in 2015, which was the largest jackpot winnings in North Carolina history. 

After taxes, the winnings amounted to $87.9 million. Holmes stated that she planned to give a portion of her winnings to charities and religious organizations. Holmes also said she planned on using some of the money to go back to college and buy her mother a house. 

Holmes' ex-fiance, Lamarr Andre McDow, claims that Holmes spent money on generous and lavish gifts for him. McDow alleges that Holmes has given away or sold these gifts after they split up and now he is suing to get them back. 

McDow claims that Holmes breached her fiduciary duty "when she reportedly gave away his 77-acre dirt bike track, his car repair shop and tens of thousands of dollars worth of clothing and jewelry while he was in prison." 

Holmes' defense attorney stated in a motion to dismiss, “This case is the embodiment of the phrase ‘[w]hat’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own.’ The problem here, however, is that McDow has nothing of his own.”

McDow was convicted of drug trafficking in April 2016 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He is projected to be released in June 2023. 

McDow made Holmes his power of attorney before he went to prison. 

Apparently, McDow heard that Holmes began dating someone else after their split, and began giving away McDow's things. According to McDow's attorney, “Ms. Holmes’ unconditional obligation to act in the best interests of Mr. McDow didn’t stop because Ms. Holmes and Mr. McDow’s relationship ended.” 

As of now, McDow has not responded to the motion to dismiss. 

See She won $188M Powerball. Now her ex-fiance is suing her from prison, NC lawsuit says, Yahoo News, last visited February 21, 2021.

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

February 21, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Larry King's estranged wife to contest his secret will

LarrykingShawn King, Larry King's estranged wife, will be contesting the late broadcaster's secret will. Shawn King was Larry King's seventh wife and was legally married to him at the time of his death in January. Larry King had filed for divorce in August of 2019, but according to Shawn, she was surprised that he had secretly updated his will. 

Shawn stated, We had a very watertight family estate plan,” and also said, “It still exists."

Recently, news broke that Larry King wrote a handwritten amendment to his will on October 17, 2019 leaving his estate to his five children. According to Shawn, she and Larry had sort of rekindled things and became close again after he filed for divorce. 

Shawn also believes that someone convinced—or heavily influenced—Larry to update his will. Shawn said she is fighting for a mere sliver of the estate, but the main reason she is fighting is because, “[i]t’s the principle.”

See Suzy Byrne, Larry King's estranged wife to contest his secret will, Yahoo Entertainment, February 15, 2021. 

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

February 20, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 19, 2021

Tapes reveal Marvel icon Stan Lee’s bitter battle with daughter J.C.

StanLeeTape recordings caught the late Stan Lee arguing with his daughter JC, and they are not pleasant.. 

“I think you’re the dumbest white woman I’ve ever known!” Lee is screaming, apparently at his adult daughter, J.C. 

“F–k you, Stan!” she fires back. 

In another recording, Lee is told that J.C. has phoned to tell him she loves him. “F–k, she doesn’t know what love is,” Lee responds. “I don’t need to be upset every f–king time she calls.” 

The recordings were made by Stan Lee's ex-manager during the last years of Stan Lee's life. 

"The tapes are revealed in the new book “True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee” (Crown) by Abraham Riesman, out Tuesday. The gloves-off biography goes behind Lee’s jovial, public face to reveal a man who was distant, troubled and at times unscrupulous. " 

Riesman claimed that the book is not about tearing Stan Lee down, but instead the point is to spread the message that "there are not superheroes." 

The book highlights what appears to be a disturbing relationship between Lee and his daughter JC. 

See Reed Tucker, Tapes reveal Marvel icon Stan Lee’s bitter battle with daughter J.C. , N.Y. Post, February 13, 2021.

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

February 19, 2021 in Books, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott Top the List of Largest Donors in 2020

Bezos"The top 50 biggest donors in the U.S. contributed a total of $24.7 billion in 2020, more than a 56% increase from 2019's $15.8 billion."

At the top of the list was Jeff Bezos, who contributed $10 million to launch the Bezos Earth Fund, which is focused on climate change. Bezos also contributed $100 million to Feeding America. 

Mackenzie Scott, the former wife of Bezos was number two on the list, as she contributed a total $5.7 billion in 2020. Scott supported 512 charities. Scott is the second-largest funder of racial equity with a $586.7 million pledge made last year. 

"Bezos’s $100 million donation to food banks, Scott’s donations to racial justice and equity, community-based organizations, and organizations led by people of color and women, is a strong statement as to how donors are gradually focusing on tackling perpetual poverty and systemic change, Berman says." 

See Fang Block, Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott Top the List of Largest Donors in 2020, Barrons, February 9, 2021. 

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

February 19, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Missouri funeral home van carrying body stolen from store parking lot

A van thief(s) had an unpleasant surprise when they stole a funeral home van that had a body inside. The van was stolen from a funeral home in Missouri no Thursday morning. The driver of the van went into a convenience store and left it running. 

Unbeknownst to the thief, the body of a woman was inside of the van. "Police say 'William C. Harris Funeral' was displayed on the side of the van and it had a green wreaths with a 'H' inside of them on the back." 

See Elizabeth Elizalde, Missouri funeral home van carrying body stolen from store parking lot, February 12, 2021. 

 

February 18, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sitkoff appointed to chair Drafting Committee for Uniform Act on Conflict of Laws in Trusts and Estates

Estate planning"Robert H. Sitkoff, the John L. Gray Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, has been appointed chair of the Uniform Law Commission's drafting committee for an Act on Conflict of Laws in Trusts and Estates."

Sitkoff is an expert in wills, trusts, estates, and fiduciary administration and was the youngest tenured professor to receive a chair in Harvard Law School history. " ". He is the surviving co-author of Wills, Trusts, and Estates (10th ed. 2017), the leading American coursebook on trusts and estates, and a co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Fiduciary Law (2019). He is also the editor of the Wills, Trusts, and Estates abstracting journal of the Social Science Research Network and an Academic Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel." 

Sitkoff has been active in trusts and estates law reform through the American Law Institute (ALI) and the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), so this type of responsibility will not be new to him. 

Sitkoff had this to say about his new appointment, “This will be a fascinating but difficult undertaking. Much of the existing law on conflict of trust laws, which traces mainly to the Restatement (Second) of Conflicts, is stale. It reflects an outmoded and much simpler model of practice,” he said. “Today we have increasing differentiation in state trust laws, an increasingly mobile population, and increasingly complex trust structures that divide fiduciary responsibility among multiple players. So hard conflict of trust laws problems are arising with increasing frequency.”

See Gretchen Ertl, Sitkoff appointed to chair Drafting Committee for Uniform Act on Conflict of Laws in Trusts and Estates, Harvard Law Today, February 12, 2021. 

February 18, 2021 in Appointments and Honors, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Tennessee man leaves $5 million to dog in his will: 'She’s a good girl'

LuLuTennessee businessman Bill Dorris died last year at the age 84 and left $5 million to his 8-year-old collie, LuLu. Bill's friend, Martha Burton, had already been well acquainted with LuLu as she would watch after her when Bill travel; an arrangement that had occurred for several years before Bill's passing. 

"I don’t really know what to think about it, to tell you the truth," Burton told WTVF. "He just really loved the dog."

According to the will, $5 million is to be placed in a trust for LuLu's care. The will also specifies that LuLu stay with Burton, for which Burton will be reimbursed for normal monthly expenses. 

Yes, LuLu the dog is a millionaire. The most interesting thing is that she is not the only animal that has come into a large sum of money, as it is far more common than you think for pet owners to leave a portion (and sometimes the entirety) of their estate to their animals.

See James Leggate, Tennessee man leaves $5 million to dog in his will: 'She’s a good girl', Fox News, February 12, 2021. 

 

 

February 17, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Britney Spears' father loses his attempt to keep sole control of her investments as documentary stokes fans 'free Britney' campaign

FreebritBritney Spears' father, Jamie Spears, has come up empty in his attempt to keep sole control of her investments. "A California judge denied Jamie Spears' objections to establishing wealth management company Bessemer Trust Co as a co-conservator over her estate." Jamie has had control over Britney's finances since 2008. The conservatorship came after Britney had a number of public breakdowns, which included shaving her head and attacking paparazzi with an umbrella. 

Although the fight over conservatorship has been going on for a while, even inciting a movement coined the "Free Britney Movement," a new documentary has made the discussion relevant all over again. The documentary, 'Framing Britney Spears,' released last week. The documentary sheds light on Britney's mental health issues and "her struggle to regain autonomy in her career." 

The #FreeBritney movement has brought on a slew of sympathy and support for Britney. This support ranges from your average Joe and average Jane fans to celebrities like Miley Cyrus. 

Britney recently posted a video of one of her previous performances with the following caption on Twitter and Instagram, "I´ll always love being on stage .... But I am taking the time to learn and be a normal person ..... I love simply enjoying the basics of every day life !!!!"

See Megan Sheets, Britney Spears' father loses his attempt to keep sole control of her investments as documentary stokes fans 'free Britney' campaign, Daily Mail (U.K.), February 11, 2021. 

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

February 17, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)