Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, December 19, 2022

Is It OK to Rule From the Grave?

Estate planningImposing conditions on your loved ones during the estate planning process can be helpful, so long as they are reasonable. Overly burdensome conditions can lead to disastrous results, so conditions need to be clear, measurable, and practical to help protect estate plans and beneficiaries. 

Conditions, such as putting an age requirement on a child’s ability to assume the role of executor, can be practical. Representatives of estates must be legal adults, and measuring age is easy to do. However, when requirements become more complex, like requiring college attendance and imposing GPA requirements, measuring the outcome can be difficult. What if, instead of entering a traditional university, the child enters a trade school or military service? Or perhaps they choose a major where earning high marks is difficult to do? 

Other conditions, like implementing the HEMS standard (health, education, maintenance, and support) are common and considered relatively clear and measurable. Conditions like, distributions being made upon the beneficiary becoming a parent are too complex. What if they become a step-parent, or are unable to have children? When conditions are overly limiting it can be settling the estate too complicated and time-consuming, and lead to resentment on behalf of family members.

For more information see Allison L. Lee “Is it OK to Rule From the Grave?”, Kiplinger, November 4, 2022

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

December 19, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Study of Wealthy Americans Highlights Stark Contrasts Between Generations

Estate planning Earlier this year, Bank of America conducted a Private Bank Study of Wealthy Americans and found significant differences amongst generations around investing, spending, philanthropy, and wealth planning. This is significant because it is expected that $73 trillion will be passed on to the next generation in the next decade-plus, with another $11 trillion given to charity. 

The study surveyed over 1,000 high-net-worth individuals and found that three-quarters of younger people are not as confident in returns on traditional stocks and bonds as older generations, with younger generations more interested in sustainable investments that they hope can make a positive impact on the world. 73% of millennials have invested in sustainable investments compared to only 21% of older respondents.

When it comes to philanthropy, only half of all donors support the same causes as their parents, many seeking to find their own philanthropic identity. Another key finding was that only half of parents feel that their children are well prepared to inherit their wealth. Estate planning is a critical client need, with advisors central to addressing the needs of clients with well-executed plans that will address the communication and family dynamics that the older generations are concerned about.

For more information see Joe Dziemianowicz “Study of Wealth Americans Highlights Stark Contrasts Between Generations”, Barron’s PENTA, October 11, 2022.

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

November 10, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Article: Thrills and Chills and Postage and Wills; a Look at a Few Aspects of 'The Five Orange Pips'

Leslie Katz recently published an article entitled, Thrills and Chills and Postage and Wills; a Look at a Few Aspects of 'The Five Orange Pips', 2022. Provided below is the abstract to the article:

The paper discusses a few aspects of “The Five Orange Pips": its date of action; the likelihood of Elias's threatening letter having been sent through the French postal system; and the validity of Elias's will.

The story “The Five Orange Pips” (hereafter “FIVE”) was first published in the November 1891 issue of The Strand Magazine.1 It was the seventh in order of first publication of the sixty adventures that together constitute the Sherlock Holmes Canon, all of them written, of course, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Of the six Canonical adventures that preceded FIVE in order of first publication, the first two were novels and the next four were stories. Of the two novels, one was The Sign Of Four (hereafter “SIGN”), first published in the February 1890 issue of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine,2 while of the four stories, one was “A Scandal In Bohemia” (hereafter “SCAN”), first published in the July 1891 issue of The Strand Magazine.3 I single out SIGN and SCAN for mention now among the six Canonical adventures that preceded FIVE in order of first publication because, in FIVE: (1) SIGN was referred to by name; and (2) SCAN was referred to by implication. I’ll be discussing below the significance of those references.

November 3, 2022 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Khloé Kardashian said that it's in her will to get her nails done 'once a week' if she's in a coma: 'People are gonna visit me'

KhloeK jpgIn the most recent episode of Hulu’s “The Kardashians,”  sisters Kylie Jenner and Khloé Kardashian discuss post-death wishes with their mother, Kris Jenner, as the matriarch prepares for hip-replacement surgery. 

Kardashian later elaborates to the camera, “If I’m in a coma, I’m still getting my nails done once a week, and that’s in my will… Cause people are gonna visit me.” It is important to note that a will would not effectively dictate this until her passing. This information needs to be included in a durable power of attorney.

The family says they frequently discuss their wills and preferences, with Kris saying how she and Kylie have talked about picking out a mausoleum for the family, while Khloé ponders cremation. She speculates as to what would happen if a company like Disney decided to buy and develop land on which her family was buried. “Can you imagine being haunted by the Kardsashians?”

For more information see Palmer Haasch “Khloe Kardashian said that it’s in her will to get her nails done ‘once a week’ if she’s in a coma: ‘People are gonna visit me’," Insider Entertainment, October 20, 2022.

Special thanks to Deedee Nachman (Professor of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.  

October 22, 2022 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 26, 2022

Celebrity Estate Planning: Misfires of the Rich and Famous

StarsCelebrities are not immune to the pitfalls of having outdated or nonexistent estate plans, and even if careful estate planning has taken place, changes in family circumstances or tax laws can have negative impacts. 

This article takes a look at some famous mistakes made by famous people, including over simplistic wills (Jim Morrison), after-born children (Philip Seymore Hoffman), domicile (Heath Ledger), second families and decanting (David Bowie), and oral promises (Anna Nicole Smith.)

Ultimately, what all of these mistakes have in common is that they are preventable. Simple updates or revisions can make substantial differences for beneficiaries and it is important to take time to protect love ones with complete and updated estate plans.

For more information see Jessica Galligan Goldsmith, Shaina S. Kamen, Christiana M. Lazo, David J. Posner, and Bruce D. Steiner “Celebrity Estate Planning: Misfires of the Rich and Famous” ABA Probate & Property Magazine, September/October 2022.

September 26, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Why People of Color Are Less Likely to Have a Will

Estate planningAccording to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports earlier this year, high numbers responded not having a will in place. While the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a wake-up call for many Americans around end-of-life planning, it is still reported that 1 in 3 Americans don’t have a will.

The Consumer Report Survey showed a noticeable difference in responses from people of color, with the top reasons cited as being too young, not having enough assets, not being sure how to create one, or assuming their next of kin will automatically receive everything. However, the most common reason is that they planned to create one but haven’t gotten around to it.

Maria Victoria Colón, a certified public accountant, told Consumer Reports that the general belief in the Hispanic community is that wills and financial planning is “only for rich people.” She teaches financial literacy on Instagram and TikTok in hopes of dispelling this myth and warns against the assumption that things will easily transfer to the next of kin. There can be difficulties if the family structure is complicated.

Another reason cited is that they prefer not to think about death, which for some cultures, is not appropriate topic of discussion and can be a big roadblock to creating a will.

For more information see Althea Chang-Cook “Why People of Color Are Less Likely to Have a Will” Consumer Reports, August 10, 2022.

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

September 25, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Anne Heche estate battle begins as ex James Tupper claims he was left in charge, not her 'estranged' 20-year-old son

HecheThe dispute over Anne Heche’s estate has begun to heat up over who should be in charge after the actress died intestate. Her eldest son, Homer, requested to serve as special administrator last month, however, now her ex is contesting Homer’s appointment.

James Tupper, the father of Heche’s youngest son, claims he has a “will” from January 2011 that was given to him “in case [Anne] dies tomorrow.” Additionally, he has expressed numerous reasons why he does not believe Homer is equipped for the job, one being that he was estranged from his mother when she died.

The 2011 “will” is an email sent from Heche to Tupper and entertainment attorney, Kevin Yorn, with the request that it serve as her final wishes until formal papers could be drawn up. This email dictates that her assets would go to Tupper to manage and divide amongst her sons equally until they reach the age of 25. At that time, they could sell her real estate and split the money.

Another shocking claim to arise from Tupper's filing is that Homer has changed the locks on his mother’s apartment where she and her younger son resided, and has listed the residence as “vacant” in the court filing. Tupper notes this is “concerning as her home had previously been full of furnishings, jewelry, valuables, files, and records and their removal was in no way authorized by the Court.”

For more information see Suzy Byrne “Anne Heche estate battle begins as ex James Tupper claims he was left in charge, not her 'estranged' 20-year-old son” Yahoo! Entertainment, September 16, 2022.

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

September 21, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 15, 2022

Article: Texas Estate Planning Judicial Update: Summer 2022 Edition

Gerry W. Beyer (Governor Preston E. Smith Regents Professor of Law at Texas Tech University School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Texas Estate Planning Judicial Update: Summer 2022 Edition. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This article discusses recent judicial developments (first half of 2022) relating to the Texas law of intestacy, wills, estate administration, trusts, and other estate planning matters. The discussion of each case concludes with a moral, i.e., the important lesson to be learned from the case. By recognizing situations that have led to time consuming and costly litigation in the past, estate planners can reduce the likelihood of the same situations arising with their clients.

August 15, 2022 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Probate Primer: How to Be an Estate’s Executor

Serving as the executor of an estate requires quite a bit of time and energy which requires three main responsibilities: settling debts, filing a final tax return, and transferring accounts to the right beneficiaries. On top of these duties, an executor is often grieving the loss of their loved one and dealing with the emotional toll it takes on other friends and family.

“The executor’s role is to be diligent, not steal from the estate, and to follow the requests of the testator found in their will,” says Meredith Hill, an estate planning attorney in Maryland.

Before an appointment, it is important to spend as much time learning about the role and compiling a list of all the things that will need to be done and make sure that the executor is able and willing to devote the necessary time to the estate administration process. Executors are generally entitled to a fee or commission for their services, which will be stated in the will.

For more information:

See Vikram Barhat “Probate Primer: How to Be an Estate’s Executor” Barron’s, August 6, 2022.

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

August 10, 2022 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 6, 2022

National Make-A-Will Month

WillsAugust is National Make-A-Will Month, which is a great reminder to start thinking about your estate plan to ensure your final wishes are executed as you intended. 

According to a survey published by Caring.com, more than 50% of Americans think having a will is important, but many Americans have not gotten around to it. Some have reported they do not like the idea of planning for their death, and 1 out of 3 survey takers stated that they don’t believe they have enough assets to leave behind. Estate Planning goes beyond just wealth, it is important to have a plan in place to make your passing less complicated for your loved ones.

The COVID-19 pandemic increased interest in estate planning, and the number of 18-34 year olds with estate planning documents in place has increased by nearly 50%. However, 2 out of 3 American adults still do not have a will.

For more information:

See National Make a Will Month” NFCR Blog, August 18, 2020.

August 6, 2022 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)