Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Billionaire Aldi Family Fortune To Hit German Court As Son Sues Mother For Embezzling Funds: Reports

TheoTheo Albrecht, cofounder of Aldi supermarket, passed away in 2010 and was ranked the 31st richest person in the world that same year. Albrecht's grandson Nicolay Albrecht has accused his mother Babette Albrecht and his three sisters of embezzling money from the trust. 

Nicolay Albrecht has has brought the action to a German court where the family members will argue over the fortune. Nicolay alleges that his mother and sisters have withdrew millions from a family trust that holds the family fortune. 

Nicolay's father, Berthold Albrecht was the beneficiary of the trust before his death in 2012. Babette is the widow of Berthold. 

"The conflict, which has been through many chapters, pits the cost-conscious elders who built Aldi against the younger generation who inherited the wealth."

Berthold's brother, Theo Jr., has already accused Babette and her children of "helping themselves to the assets" in the past. An alleged $88 million had already been withdrawn from the foundation in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

It appears that the elder generation felt that the younger, money-hungry generation, is disrupting the philosophy that the Albrecht family founded its success on. 

See David Dawkins, Billionaire Aldi Family Fortune To Hit German Court As Son Sues Mother For Embezzling Funds: Reports, Forbes, September 20, 2020. 

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

September 20, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 19, 2020

How to Divide Up Personal Possessions Without Dividing the Family

EstateWhen creating an estate plan, allocating and dividing your assets can be very difficult. You are more than likely trying to figure out how to allocate your possessions in a way that will not create tension between your family members after you are gone. When creating your estate plan, it is very important that you make your intentions clear and have your estate planning strategy in line with those intentions. 

Although possession that can be turned into cash are easy to divide, tangible things like jewelry and heirlooms will not be as easy to divvy up. You may also have items that hold sentimental value that multiple family members are hoping to get their hands on. The family fights are likely to be centered around these types of objects. 

It will likely be a tough decision, but whoever you decide to give these items to, you should make it very clear who you choose and why you have chosen them. 

Below are a few steps to help you along the way:

  • List the most important or valuable items in your will
  • Direct that certain items be sold
  • Write a memorandum 
  • Give everything away now
  • Get an appraisal
  • Use a letter 
  • Bidding 

If you make these decisions instead of leaving them in the hands of your family, the process will be much smoother.

See Randy M. Lish, How to Divide Up Personal Possessions Without Dividing the Family, Elder Law News, September 18, 2020.

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

September 19, 2020 in Elder Law, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 18, 2020

Warren G. Harding’s Grandson, Lover Want President’s Body Exhumed

Harding"The grandson of U.S. President Warren G. Harding and his lover, Nan Britton, went to court in an effort to get the Republican's remains exhumed from the presidential memorial where they have lain since 1927." 

James Blaesing stated that he wants Hardin's remains so he can "establish with scientific certainty"  that he is blood related to Harding. 

Benefactors are preparing to celebrate the centennial of Hardin's 1920 election with "site upgrades and a new presidential center in Marion, the Ohio city near which he was born in 1865." James Blaesing claims that he deserves to have his story included "within the hallowed halls and museums in this town." 

"A branch of the Harding family has pushed back against the suit filed in May — not because they dispute Blaesing’s ancestry, but because they don’t."

The family agues that they have accepted as "fact DNA evidence that Blaesing's mother", Elizabeth Ann Blaesing was Harding and Britton's daughter. They also stated that she is set to be acknowledged in the museum. 

“Sadly, widespread, public recognition and acceptance by the descendants, historians, and biographers (and Mr. Blaesing himself) that Mr. Blaesing is President Harding’s grandson is not enough for him,” relatives said in a court filing.

See Julie Carr Smyth, Warren G. Harding’s Grandson, Lover Want President’s Body Exhumed, AP News, September 13, 2020.

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

September 18, 2020 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Summer wave of dementia deaths adds thousands to pandemic's deadly toll

DementiaDementia and Alzheimer’s deaths have risen to more than 20 percent above normal over the summer. Although these deaths are not included in the official coronavirus death toll, it is clear that there is a link between the true numbers. 

The pandemic has lead to isolation, which has lead to heightened stress, especially in nursing homes. The "lapses in nursing home care and missed Covid-19 diagnoses are all likely contributing factors to the unusually high dementia death toll, adding to the devastation the virus has brought to U.S. nursing homes."

Alzheimer's along with dementia, heart disease and pneumonia have lead to a spike in death tolls. Many of the deaths from coronavirus can be attributed to other underlying issues.

"The higher than typical number of deaths — which public health experts refer to as "excess" deaths — first emerged in the early weeks of the pandemic. At the time, experts blamed them on temporary disruptions to the medical system and undiagnosed Covid-19 cases amid a severe testing shortfall."

It is important that steps be taken to protect the vulnerable, like those with Alzheimer's and dementia, as they are very susceptible to the wrath of Covid-19.

See Tucker Doherty, Summer wave of dementia deaths adds thousands to pandemic's deadly toll, Politico, September, 16, 2020. 

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

September 18, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Pandemic isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer’s patients while families watch from afar

DanDan Goerke has had to speak to his wife from the doorway of her nursing home as the pandemic has forced patients into isolation. 

Dan's wife, Denise, is 63-years-old and has Alzheimer's disease. Denise has declined dramatically since the pandemic began, losing 16 pounds and has had a hard time forming seven simple words. Denise has also stopped responding to the voices of her children. 

Dan has spoken out stating that the isolation due to the pandemic is killing his wife and that all he can do is watch her get "a little worse" every day. 

More than 134,200 people have died from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia since March. Many of these people are dying due to the strategy of isolation that is meant to protect them. Doctors have reported increased falls and depression and sudden frailty in patients that "had been stable for years." 

The isolation due to the pandemic has proven that social and mental stimulation are key tools used to slow the effects of dementia.

All Dan can do his speak to his wife, who can no longer recognize him, through the door for a few minutes a day in attempts to stimulate her memory. "I Still believe a spark of her is in there" Dan said. 

All we can do is keep the hope alive and say a little prayer for families like the Goerkes. 

See William Wan, Pandemic isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer’s patients while families watch from afar, Washington Post, September 16, 2020. 

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

September 17, 2020 in Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

5 Unfortunate Estate Planning Myths You Probably Believe

ConfusedWomanEstate planning is a complex concept that encompasses many other concepts. Due to the vastness of the topic, they are common misconceptions that can lead your estate plan astray if you follow them.

The best way to estate plan is to plan from strategies built and expanded on over time. 

Below are 5 common misconceptions of estate planning. 

1. An estate plan should be based solely on tax mitigation

2. I should leave everything to my children

3. My children are so very different but to be fair, I must be equitable with my estate plan

4. I will set up a trust. That will take care of everything.

5. My estate advisers have my best interests in mind, and they are working together for me as a team. 

See Christopher D. Wright, JD, CPA, 5 Unfortunate Estate Planning Myths You Probably Believe, Kiplinger, September 17, 2020. 

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

September 17, 2020 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Digital Assets in Estate Planning: Cybersecurity Concerns and Considerations

Digital assetsMany estate planning clients have moved into the digital asset realm. Digital assets are typically stored online in electronic format. 

"Most clients preserve digital assets either for their sentimental value or their financial value. Examples of digital assets which are preserved for their sentimental value include digital photos, music, movies, eBooks, information and documents stored on cloud accounts, subscriptions, smart-phone applications as well as data stored on these applications, and social media accounts."

Digital assets that are held for financial value are typically in the form of cryptocurrencies and investment accounts. Other examples are income-generating websites or blogs and digital copyrights or trademarks. 

Given the increase in digital assets, the threat of cybercrime is more prevalent. "For instance, recently in New York, a couple unintentionally wired a $1.9 million down paymentfor a business to cybercriminals who had hacked into the couple’s email account, learned of the transaction, and created fake wire transfer instructions. A 2019 survey conducted by Morgan Stanley revealed that cybersecurity risk is one of the major concerns for high net worth individuals."

Estate planning attorneys can help clients navigate the laws governing digital assets and advise them in taking proactive stets to protect their digital assets. 

See Philip N. Yannella & Priscilla G. Osei-Bonsu, Digital Assets in Estate Planning: Cybersecurity Concerns and Considerations, Ballard Spahr LLP, September 14, 2020. 

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

September 16, 2020 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

The It List: Netflix doc tells the story of youngest person ever to be cryonically frozen, 'Jeopardy!' and 'Wheel of Fortune' return with major changes, Janelle Monáe's time-twisting horror film 'Antebellum' heads to VOD and the best in pop culture. . .

There is a new Netflix documentary out that tells the story of the youngest person to ever be cryonically frozen. The documentary is called, Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice. The documentary focuses on a Thai Buddhist family that decided to cryonically freeze their daughter, who has brain cancer, until medical technology can save her. 

In other "It List" news, the beloved game shows Jeopardy! and the Wheel of Fortune have returned after taking a brief hiatus following COVID-19. In honor of Wheel of Fortune's 38th season, the new minimum that players can win by spinning the bonus wheel is $38,000. 

Also, Antebellum premiers this Friday. The thriller has been described as a film that ties our present to our past. Critics have compared the show to Get Out which was produced in part by Jordan Peele. The show is expected to be a hit social thriller. 

See The It List: Netflix doc tells the story of youngest person ever to be cryonically frozen, 'Jeopardy!' and 'Wheel of Fortune' return with major changes, Janelle Monáe's time-twisting horror film 'Antebellum' heads to VOD and the best in pop culture. . ., Yahoo News, September 14, 2020. 

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

September 16, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Passage of L. Henry Gissel Jr.

GisselIt is with the heaviest of hearts that I report the passing of L. Henry Gissel, Jr. on September 15, 2020.

Henry was an absolute icon in the estate planning community. His accomplishments are legend. Here is a brief description as supplied by Eleanor M. Spuhler (Executive Manager, NAEPC):

[Henry] was inducted into the [Estate Planning} Hall of Fame in 2011, and received the Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award in 2013.  He also served as president of the Houston Estate and Financial Forum, an affiliate of NAEPC.   Throughout his career, Henry was very also very active in ACTEC, the American Bar Association, and many other organizations.  As noted while receiving the Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award in 2013, he was the only person to have served as head of NAEPC, the ABA Real Property Trust and Estate Law Section, and ACTEC.  His dedication to the profession was notable and recognized by all who had the pleasure of serving alongside him. 

Here is a link to his vita where you can learn more about this amazing lawyer.

Henry -- I hope heaven has good Internet access so you can see how many lives you touched in such a positive way and how much you will be missed. Cheers, Gerry

September 16, 2020 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Millionaire Steve Bing’s Estate At Center Of Paternity and Disinheritance Dispute In California Probate Court

Bing"Steve Bing, a wealthy Hollywood movie investor, committed suicide earlier this year in Los Angeles."

Kira Kerkorian has submitted a DNA test stating that she is Bing's biological child. Bing's will disinherited any children he may have had. Bing also died with a Trust "naming the Clinton Foundation as its sole beneficiary."

Kira retrieved DNA from Bing's body in the morgue. It was first revealed that Bing was Kira's father "in a legal dispute between Kira's mom and her ex-husband, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian." 

According to the California Probate court paternity can be established by clear and convincing evidence.

"Sometimes a child can be considered an omitted child under California law if they were born after the execution of decedent’s testamentary documents.  However, in certain circumstances even an omitted child still receives nothing from the California probate estate. . ." 

In an earlier case, "the California appellate court determined that a general disinheritance clause can defeat an omitted child claim for unknown children born before the execution of a will or trust.  Here, it appears that Kira was in utero at the time that Bing executed the will."

See Millionaire Steve Bing’s Estate At Center Of Paternity and Disinheritance Dispute In California Probate Court, Probate Stars, September 15, 2020. 

September 15, 2020 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Television, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)