Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Article on Latest Trends in Succession among Hindus

HinduG. V. Mahesh Nath recently published an Article entitled, Latest Trends in Succession among Hindus, Wlls, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article. 

The presence of separate provisions for succession in case of Hindu men and Hindu women dying intestate is viewed as complicated feature of the Hindu Succession Act,1956 showing discrimination on basis of gender. The property of Hindu males devolves upon his heirs irrespective of the source of the income but the property of Hindu females devolves according to the source of the income. This provision under Section 15 of the Act dealing with rules of Succession of Hindu Female dilutes the effect of gender progressive provisions like Section 14 and show that the woman is a temporary occupier of the property and that the property must be reverted back from where it was inherited leaving that woman has no identity of her own. The 2005 Amendment Act is required to be seen as a step in the direction of reducing the existing gender inequalities, however the change in Indian societal perception on gender equity is still lacking.

December 20, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Religion, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Arab Women Left in Inheritance Trap by Delayed Reforms

TunTunisia’s president, Beji Caid Sebsi, has backed culturally controversial legislation that would allow Arab women to have equal inheritance rights, completely eroding Islamic law in the area. The Koran is very specific, stating that daughters are only allowed to inherit half of what their brothers receive. If the law passed it would be the first of its kind in the Arab world.

Muslim clerics decry the proposed legislation as an attack on Islam, and they are backed by the country's conservative party, Nahda. “No political party can make this gamble, particularly with elections next year.” The debate now has engulfed other Arab countries and has underlined the difficulty of upending a centuries-old status quo that shapes the contours of power and wealth across the Arab world.

But for millions of Arab women from Saudi Arabia to Morocco, there is a more modest goal: getting the limited assets to which they are currently entitled. Many women, many of them from rural areas, are denied their legal share of inherited assets, especially land. Male relatives can make it expensive and troublesome for daughters and sisters to receive any portion of their inheritances.

Inheritance laws are part of a broader web of legal and social barriers that perpetuate gender inequality in the Arab world. In many Arab countries only 1 in 4 women are employed or looking for work, and close to that number of Middle Eastern women have bank accounts.

See Heba Saleh, Arab Women Left in Inheritance Trap by Delayed Reforms, Financial Times, September 27, 2018.

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

September 27, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Religion, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sixth Municipality in Massachusetts to Call for Death with Dignity Legislation

CapecodOn Monday Falmouth in Massachusetts became the sixth municipality in the state to agree to pass a resolution to request the legislature to legalize allowing terminally ill patients to receive life-ending medication from their medical practitioner. Commonly known as physician-assisted suicide or Death with Dignity, the practice is legal in several United State jurisdictions including Washington, Vermont, and Colorado.

It may be an uphill battle, however. In 2012 voters narrowly defeated a referendum that would have allowed the practice, and in 2017 a medical aid in dying bill did not make it past the public health committee. Right-to-life groups and the Catholic Church are also strongly opposed to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, fearing it will be used to contain expenditures of costly medical treatments.

There is support for Death with Dignity laws by the medical world, as the American Medical Society declined to reaffirm its opposition to the practice and the Massachusetts Medical Society officially dropped its stance against it.

See Cynthia McCormick, Falmouth Backs Death with Dignity, Cape Cod Times, July 10, 2018.


July 12, 2018 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Preparing for One’s Final Journey: A Torah Approach

MenorahPreparing for one’s Final Journey: A Torah Approach to Preparing for your own Funeral". The lecture was given by Rav Menachem Levine of Congregation Am Echad. San Jose, CA, January 1, 2018. Topics include Life Insurance, Burial Arrangements, Halachic Living Wills/Health Care Proxies, and Wills.

July 2, 2018 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 8, 2018

Suicide Discussion is Evolving in the Wake of Kate Spade's Death

KateThe death of famous handbag designer Kate Spade earlier this week by suicide in her Manhattan apartment has reignited the conversation surrounding suicide, depression, and the way the two are linked. Spade’s longtime friend Elyce Arons told The New York Times this week that when the subject of celebrity suicides came up in their discussions about Spade’s depression, her friend assured her, “‘I would never do that. I would never do that. I would never do that.’ And I believed her.”

National Institute of Mental Health data show that, in 2016, 1 million U.S. adults made plans for death and attempted suicide. Eric Beeson, core faculty member at Northwestern University, says that being 'suicidal' is more than just a list of factors but rather a spectrum of behaviors, and that the act of suicide is not usually an act of impulse. “People talk about it being selfish; people talk about it being irrational,” says Beeson, “but actually I think a lot of suicides are very well-thought out, very well-contemplated."

The moral and philosophical discussion of suicide may also be changing. In ancient cultures such as Japan and Greece, suicide was seen as noble, available, and even honorable. Certain countries and states are passing "Death with Dignity" laws that allows phsyician assisted suicide for those diagnosed with a terminal illness. The conversation starts to travel down the path of when and under what circumstances suicide is "ok." As touchy as this subject may be for some people, the image of the men jumping out of the Twin Towers on 9/11 before they collapsed are not usually met with the proposition that they should be judged. “That analogy is not too different from someone who has a depressive disorder,” explains Beeson. “It’s not true flames, but it’s the flames of something."

See Cindy Dampier, In the Wake of Kate Spade's Death, Looking at Suicide Differently, Chicago Tribune, June 8, 2018.

June 8, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 19, 2018

Archbishop Sheen’s Body to Stay in New York, for Now

 Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who passed away in 1979, was best known for his role as the host on “Life is Worth Living,” an Emmy-winning television series broadcast during the 1950s. Now, years after his death, a dispute has erupted between rival dioceses claiming rights to Sheen's remains. Five days prior to his death, Sheen executed a will directing his remains be buried at Calvary Cemetery, which is the cemetery of the Archdiocese of New York. Cardinal Terence Cooke asked and was granted permission by Sheen's niece, Joan Sheen Cunningham, to instead place the remains in the crypt under St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. The matter of Sheen's final resting place would have been settled had it not been for a recent push to have him declared a saint. Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, began investigating the issue of sainthood in 2002. He says that Cardinal Edward Egan granted him permission to sponsor the cause for Sheen's sainthood and also promised to have the body moved to Peoria. The controversy as to where Sheen's body should remain has become the impetus for a protracted legal battle. Cunningham, who is now 90, believes that if her uncle had known that he might be considered for sainthood, he would have been perfectly happy with the move to Illinois. For her, the best course of action would be to divide the body into relics, which has been a regular occurrence for saintly relics in the Catholic Church for centuries. 

See Sharon Otterman, Archbishop Sheen’s Body to Stay in New York, for Now, The New York Times, February 7, 2018.

February 19, 2018 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Swiss Non-discrimination Principles May Prevent Recognition of Sharia-based Inheritance and Probate Documents in Switzerland

Swiss-bannerA recent decision by the Swiss Federal Tribunal refused to recognize a certificate of inheritance established by an Egyptian court. The deceased involved in the matter was an Egyptian citizen of Muslim faith. This individual had married a German citizen of Christian faith in accordance with Egyptian and Sharia law. Under Egyptian law, female beneficiaries may only inherit half of what their male counterparts inherit and non-Muslims cannot be a beneficiary to an estate. The Federal Tribunal held that these policies were manifestly incompatible with Swiss public policy. This decision is important as lawyers and estate planners must account for the possibility that Sharia-based estate plans may not be recognized under Swiss law.

See CMS von Erlach Poncet AG, Swiss Non-discrimination Principles May Prevent Recognition of Sharia-based Inheritance and Probate Documents in Switzerland, Lexology, November 7, 2017.

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

November 10, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Religion, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Clergy Housing Tax Exemption The Times Square Of Religion And Taxation

Braveheart1370473231In a suit brought by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Judge Barbara Crabb has once again declared IRC §107(2) unconstitutional. This specific section of the code allows ministers of the gospel to exclude rental allowances from their gross income. Recent coverage of the decision has overstated the scope of Crabb’s ruling and deserves rectification.

See Peter J. Reilly, Clergy Housing Tax Exemption The Times Square Of Religion And Taxation, Forbes, October 15, 2017.

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

October 26, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

How Afraid of Dying Are You?

Afraid of dyingOddly enough, atheists and extremely religious individuals have something in common: they are among the individuals least afraid of dying. Research suggests that those who lack belief in a higher power seek comfort in death. On the other hand, those who are religious for social or emotional benefits often tend to suffer from the most death anxiety, or persistent fear of one’s own death. The study specifically looked at 100 articles published between 1961 and 2014 to determine how religious beliefs affected death anxiety throughout the years.

See Stacy Liberatore, How Afraid Are YOU of Dying? Researchers Say Atheists and the Most Religious Are Least Scared, Daily Mail, March 24, 2017.

March 25, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Article on Justiciability & Religion

JusticiabilitySatvinder Juss recently published an Article entitled, Back to the Future: Justiciability, Religion, and the Figment of ‘Judicial No-Man’s Land’, 51 TLI Think! Paper (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

In Shergill & Others v. Khaira & others the UK Supreme Court determined that religious disputes are ‘justiciable’ before the secular courts, and rejected Mummery LJ’s decision below that religion was “a judicial no man’s land.” The case concerned the power of a Sikh Holy Saint to dismiss trustees who questioned his ‘succession’ to the religious institution of the Nirmal Kutia Johal, which arose in India in the 1920s. In holding that there is jurisdiction to determine this matter, the Supreme Court in Shergill has left no doubt that the courts of the land are open for the resolution of disputes from non-traditional believers as much as from traditional believers. The judgment enhances the public interest in a meaningful shared citizenship where people of diverse religious and other backgrounds can share common institutions and a life together, and reverses a trend that had been developing during the twentieth century of treating such cases as non-justiciable.


March 1, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)