Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Should You be Able to Disinherit Your Child?

EiffelIn most of America, the question is not whether you can disinherit your child, but whether you should. A parent has every right to decide to completely block their assets from transferring to a particular offspring. In France, that is not the case. Under French law, for an estate with three or more children - such is the case with Johnny Hallyday - at least 75% of the estate must be divided equally among the children. Hallyday took the American approach and named is widow as the sole heir of his estate, estimated in the tens of millions.

The children from Hallyday's previous marriage filed in France, and obviously want French law to prevail. So the question truly is: was Hallyday more French or American, so what was his domicile? He had a home in both countries and died in France. From his stage name to his musical choices, the lifestyle he portrayed was much more American, though he was known as the "French Elvis" and very few Americans knew of him. He married a French-born American as his second wife, and she claims that he had plans to become an American citizen when they moved to Los Angeles. When he died in 2017 from lung cancer, hundreds of thousands of mourners flooded the streets at his funeral.

Though the court has yet to answer the question of which country has jurisdiction, the case has brought forth many questions from French citizens. The idea of forced heirship is derived from the French Revolution, when the reformers wanted to break up the wealth of the aristocracy. Now, parents are curious if they are required to leave assets to children that "have given them nothing but misery."

See Pamela Druckerman, Should You be Able to Disinherit Your Child?, New York Times, May 28, 2019.

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

May 30, 2019 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases, Travel, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Sperm Donor Tells Australian High Court He is the Legal Father to Lesbian Couple's Daughter

FamilylawRobert Masson, as he is known to Australia's High Court, claims that he is the legal father to a lesbian couple's young daughter. He states that one of the women, a friend of his for 25 years, approached him to donate sperm on the contingency that he would play an important role in the future child's life. He is listed as the biological father on the girl's birth certificate, and he insists that she refers to him as "daddy."

He did not assert his legal claim to the girl until the couple wanted to take her out of the country. Now there is a constitutional issue as the parties argue that state law and Commonwealth law have different perspectives, one stating that a sperm donor is a legal father while according to the other the sperm donor is not.

A judge presiding over the case asked Tuesday: “Is there not a difference between the university student who is a donor to a sperm bank for a few bob and the sperm donor who plays a role in the life of the child?” The result of this case is primed to be a landmark decision in the argument over what the legal requirements are to be a parent.

See Kaylie Piecuch, Sperm Donor Tells Australian High Court He is Legally Father to Lesbian Couple's Daughter, Fox News, April 16, 2019.

April 16, 2019 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Science, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Airport Police Looking for Traveler Who Left Cremated Human Remains at TSA Checkpoint in Alaska

UrnA passenger that went through the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in August of 2018 appears to have forgotten an important piece of luggage. After earlier attempts to find the traveler failed, TSA have now reached how for the assistance of the public to return the cremated human remains that were left behind.

“There is no name or identifying marks on the ashes,” the department wrote on Facebook. “We believe the traveler left the TSA Screening Checkpoint with a urn, box, or bag, without realizing the ashes were still at the Screening Point.” The ashes are in a Ziploc bag and have remained in the lost-and-found for the past 6 months. The airport also reached out to local funeral homes and crematoriums but did not find any leads.

"Share it as much as possible,” urged Sgt. Dan Juarez of the airport police. “Even if you think you're sure that you have an urn and there's ashes in it, and you've traveled through the airport, just check.”

See Michael Bartiromo, Airport Police Looking for Traveler Who Left Cremated Human Remains at TSA Checkpoint in Alaska, Fox News, April 11, 2019.

April 12, 2019 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Britain's Oldest Men say the Secrets to Living to 111 are Eating Oats and 'Avoiding Dying'

UnionjackTwo men now share the title of "Britain's Oldest Man" as they both turned 111 on the same day, March 29. Alfred Smith and Bob Weighton are not related, and neither man truly knows what is the secret to their longevity.

Weighton's advice is to "avoid dying," while Smith gives possibly more functional advice by saying that eating oatmeal and porridge are beneficial. Also, the former farmer recommended "having a job you enjoy." Smith, from Invergowrie, Scotland, and Weighton, from Hampshire, England, have never met, but think of each other as twin brothers. They send each other birthday cards on their shared birthday each year.

United Kingdom tradition dictates that any person that reaches the age of 100 receive a birthday card from the monarch. Former teacher and engineer Weighton asked not to be sent any more cards from the Queen, but not for a personal reason. "I do not see why the state should pay for the Queen to send out all these things," he said.

See Rachel Hosie, Britain's Oldest Men say the Secrets to Living to 111 are Eating Oats and 'Avoiding Dying', MSN, March 31, 2019.

April 3, 2019 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Man with Stage 4 Cancer has Big Plans for his Lottery Winnings

PisaRichard Beare of Charlotte, New Carolina was recently diagnosed with state 4 liver cancer. Somehow the silver linings of the clouds shined through, and the man also just won $250,000 in the North Carolina Education Lottery.

Beare says he rarely plays the lottery, and stopped at the store for the Powerball ticket because his wife wanted him to purchase one. He also bought four scratch-off tickets, the last of which was a big winner. Beare was at first confused by the ticket, asking the clerk, "What does it mean if I match the numbers?"

After taxes the man will be bringing home $176,876, and says he plans on traveling to Italy with his wife because she has always wanted to visit. Beare says he wants to do it "while I can still enjoy myself."

See Mark Price, Man with Stage 4 Cancer has Big Plans for his Lottery Winnings, MSN, April 2, 2019.

April 2, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

City of Coffins

CoffinsFor two brothers that are undertakers in El Salvador, Juan Carlos Pacheco and Carlos Stanley, bodies are an everyday occurrence in a country that has an estimated 11 murders a day. This is the highest per capita in the world and has caused the World Health Organization to label it as an epidemic. Gang activity is on the rise again in the country, increasing from the truce negotiated by the Catholic Church in 2012 between the two major gang rivals.

Together the brothers have embalmed 500 people in the last two years, the majority of which were deaths related to gang violence. Between the two they can embalm and prepare a body for its wake in 3 hours, and typically charge around $100 for their services. Though the brother are relatively new to the funeral business, death has been as feature in their lives since childhood. They grew up in the town of Jucuapa, made up of 18,000 residents and 30 coffin factories. The coffin industry is booming in such a manner that many of the locals are abandoning their farms, bakeries, and other businesses to make the "wooden pajamas." Workers are paid by the coffin, and good carpenters can make $250 a week while painters can make $150 per week.

The majority of the coffins sold are the economy model, económico, costing $90. The owner of a factory in Jucuapa, Jorge Cárdenas, says that the majority of deaths associated with gang violence are young males will minimal resources. “When it comes time for the funeral, it’s normally the town hall that pays for the coffin, and the state always chooses the cheapest option.” Cárdenas acknowledges that he is making money off the tragedy befalling his country, and that if the gang murders dramatically decreased, so would his business.

See Matthew Bremner, City of Coffins: Bloomberg Businessweek, MatthewBremner.com, March 24, 2019.

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

March 26, 2019 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Article on Intervention to Prevent Abuse of Trust Structures [New Zealand]

TrustsNicola Peart published an Article entitled, Intervention to Prevent Abuse of Trust Structures, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2010). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

Trusts are very common in New Zealand, but they are increasingly detrimentally affecting the rights of creditors and spouses or partners when their relationship ends. This article examines the current statutory and common law remedies available to creditors and spouses or partners whose rights are defeated by trusts.It concludes that the existing law does not adequately protect such persons. The article considers options for reform and recommends that Parliament review the balance between socio-economic imperatives and the protection provided by the general principles of trust law.

March 18, 2019 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

This Japanese Way of Healthy Eating Might Help You Live to 100

MisoOkinawa, Japan may just have the fountain of youth. People living in Okinawa have especially low rates of obesity and chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and no place on Earth has a more of a concentration of people 100 or older. The secret? Experts believe it is the local diet.

Luiza Petre, MD, a weight management specialist and assistant clinical professor of cardiology at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, says that though there are many variables that can contribute to a longer lifespan, "the key is their particularly healthy diet."

The traditional Okinawa diet emphasizes eating plenty of vegetables and seafood and limiting processed foods, and the residents also eat moderate portions at mealtime and treat food as a source of medicine. Okinawans focus on high-fiber carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, root vegetables, and buckwheat soba, but also include green vegetables, soyfoods, seafood and seaweed, limited amounts of red meat, Shiitake mushrooms, bitter melon, and Jasmine tea. Also, Okinawans tend to enjoy sugary treats only on special occasions, and the majority of their fats come from omega-3 rich fish.

Many Okinawans eat in accordance with a Confucian teaching called hara hachi bu-eating until one is satisfied, not full. They do not weigh or measure their portions, but focus on thoughtfulness. The foods they eat are rich in anti-inflammatory phytochemicals that may help lower the risk for many chronic diseases and even dementia. 

See Marygrace Taylor, This Japanese Way of Healthy Eating Might Help You Live to 100, MSN, March 4, 2019.

March 13, 2019 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 11, 2019

How U.S. Tax Rules Apply to Inheritances and Gifts from Abroad

GiftAs Americans become more global within this modern society, they are asking estate planners questions about properties outside of the country's borders. One of the popular questions is whether an inheritance or gift from abroad will be taxed if brought into the United States. Usually, bequests are not subject to the income tax, and transfers by gift of property not situated in the U.S. from foreign nationals not domiciled in America are not subject to U.S. gift taxes. But depending on the circumstances, certain laws may still apply.

Foreign nationals who are green card holders are generally considered domiciled in the United States and as such are defined as lawful permanent residents. Residents and citizens are covered by one aspect of the estate and gift tax laws, and national without a green card may be considered domiciled for tax purposes. Transfers by foreign nationals not domiciled in the United States are covered by a different estate tax structure that imposes taxes on transfers of certain property situated in the United States.

If the decedent who bequeaths the asset is neither a U.S. citizen nor a foreign national domiciled in the United States, no U.S. estate tax is imposed on the transfer. There is also no tax resulting from the death transfer upon the beneficiary's receipt of a bequest. The United States also does not impose an income tax on inheritances brought into the country.

The United States has gift tax treaties which may eliminate the U.S. gift tax on certain transfers that are otherwise subject to gift taxes under the Code. An exemption from gift tax under a treaty is made on a gift tax return.

See How U.S. Tax Rules Apply to Inheritances and Gifts from Abroad, Find Law.com.

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

March 11, 2019 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Travel, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A New Luxury Retreat Caters to Elderly Workers in Tech (Ages 30 and Up)

HaciendaA retreat in Mexico has a particular clientele - it is aimed at workers in the digital economy — those who feel like software is speeding up while they are slowing down, no matter how old they really are. The residents are as young as early 30s, and the age just goes up from there. Modern Elder, started by a hotelier turned Silicon Valley entrepreneur, saw a market for those that are technically still young but seen as "too old" for the work culture of tech jobs.

Before founding the resort, Chip Conley was utterly surprised to find that his colleagues at Airbnb found him as the old man at 52. “We are all elders in the making,” Mr. Conley said. “If you’re 40 years old and surrounded by 25-year-olds, you’re an elder.” After his stock in the company vested, he started his new venture with a simple but elegant premise to embrace being "elder."

Conley imagined that the demographic would be between the ages of 45 to 60. In the nine Modern Elder sessions he has hosted to date, the oldest participant was 74, the youngest was 30, and the average has been 52. People in the tech industry, and especially in start-up rich cities such as San Francisco, feel old earlier, and life expectancies are on the increase. So coping methods and accepting mindsets are important.

The retreat is housed in a refurbished Mexican hacienda about 40 miles north of Cabo San Lucas complete with large wooden doors and an extravagant, tiled pool. Guests don’t check in and out as at a traditional retreat; they submit “applications” for one-week programs and, if accepted, pay “tuition” of $5,000 to secure one of the 18 rooms and three locally sourced meals a day.

See Nellie Bowles, A New Luxury Retreat Caters to Elderly Workers in Tech (Ages 30 and Up), New York Times, March 4, 2019.

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

March 5, 2019 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)