Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, May 6, 2016

Article On Tips To Prevent Power Of Attorney Abuse

ArticlePictureMichael J. Polk (Belser & Belser, PA) recently published an article entitled, Quick And Dirty Tips To Prevent Power of Attorney Abuse, South Carolina Lawyer Magazine  18-23 (May 2016). Provided below is an excerpt from the article.

However, this article concentrates on abuse of durable powers of attorney. Although we as attorneys have little control over many of the tools of exploitation, we do have a hand in the preparation of many durable powers of attorney. The durable power of attorney has gained popularity as a low cost alternative to conservatorships. A study released by AARP in 2000 found that 45 percent of Americans age 50 or older reported having executed a durable power attorney. Elder financial abuse accounts for 20 percent of all elder abuse. For every one reported case, it is estimated that four or five cases go unreported. Why target the elderly? To quote Willie Sutton when asked why he robbed banks, “because that’s where the money is.” Researchers expect that financial abuse will grow as older Americans own a larger share of U.S. wealth. Persons over 50 now own approximately 70 percent of U.S. wealth.

May 6, 2016 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is Britney Spears The World's Most Famous Ward?

Britney SpearsBritney Spears is one of the handful of celebrities that managed to survive a public breakdown. In 2008 her life had become what could charitably be called a public catastrophe with antics ranging from her famous shaved head to sparring with paparazzi. Compelled to action by a series of involuntary psychological evaluations, her family went to court and requested the appointment of a conservator to manage her affairs. Eight years on, the arrangement remains in place but has helped craft a renaissance for the once beleaguered pop-star. Her toned down personal life that stays out of the muckraking press combined with a booming career has brought her star back up to dizzying heights that once seemed lost forever. But there are storm-clouds on the horizon. Some critics have emerged arguing that the Spears has stabilized to the point that the conservatorship should come to an end. They point to the cost of the arrangement, which has amounted to millions of dollars, and view it as a siphoning of money from her estate. However, all indications point to Spears being satisfied with the current state of affairs as it has allowed her to be one of the highest earning women in the music industry while be able to have a stable home life with her young children. But, as with all things, only time will tell what may become.

See Serge F. Kovaleski & Joe Coscarelli, Is Brittany Spears Ready To Stand Alone?, The New York Times, May 4, 2016.

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

May 6, 2016 in Current Affairs, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How An Estate Sale Business Can Be Built By Franchising A Name And Brand

Estate sale businessThe estate sale business is booming and is still very unregulated.  When a person passes away many of their possessions will often need to be sold quickly.  This is leading to an increasing demand for estate sale businesses that do the work of selling off a deceased person’s possessions and charging a commission.  There are some entrepreneurs who are now franchising brand names for estate sale businesses so that consumers can be more confident that they are dealing with a reputable company.  This article discusses the growing number of franchised estate sale businesses that are popping up all across the country.  “More than 12,000 estate sale companies operate across the country, with more than 98 percent of them mom-and-pop businesses, estimates Micky McQuade, chief executive of EstateSales.net, a listing site for estate sales.”

See Janet Morrissey, Building an Estate Sale Business by Franchising a Name and Brand, The New York Times, May 4, 2016.

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

May 5, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Estate Planning Issues Entertainers Face

Prince2Prince’s passing has cause a massive amount of media speculation about the division of his estate.  A will has not been found yet and it is becoming increasingly likely that the music legend died intestate.  His estate is probably going to have to be divided up under Minnesota intestacy laws.  High profile entertainers like Prince face unique estate planning issues.  The Prince estate will likely go through an ongoing process of battles in probate court and the media is going to widely report on it.  “Implementing estate plans which use revocable (and irrevocable) trusts can help maintain privacy because upon death their terms rarely become public record.”  It is important for everyone, but especially high profile celebrities, to seek out the expertise of a competent estate planning professional for personalized estate planning assistance. 

See Rob Hazard, Estate Planning Issues For Entertainers, Estate Of Mind, May 4, 2016.

May 5, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Changes In Estate Planning Laws Provide Reason For Updating Estate Plan

New legislationMany people are revising and updating their estate plan because of recent changes to estate planning and tax laws.  Another reason for updating estate plans is the increase in the average life expectancy thanks to developments in modern health care.  This article discusses some of the recent changes in the law and why it is important for people to update their estate plans.  People need to update their planning if they are going to be impacted by estate and gift taxes.  Those who have trusts will also need to review their estate plans.  “Another very important development in estate planning is the use of proper beneficiary designations for qualified plans and IRA interests.”  There are many parents who have reason to be concerned about the property that they plan to leave to beneficiaries being subject to creditor or spousal claims, and they will want to take proactive estate planning measures. 

See Dickinson Wright PLLC, Recent Changes in Estate Planning Laws May be Cause for Review of Your Estate Plan, Lexology, May 4, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

May 5, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Intestate Succession, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Understanding How To Calculate The Value Of Annuities

Charity scamPeople who make or receive a series of fixed payments over a period of time have what are called “annuities.”  This article explains how the present and future values of annuities are calculated.  “There are two basic types of annuities: ordinary annuities and annuities due.”  The difference between these two types of annuities deal with when payments are required to be made.  This article explains how to calculate the present and future value of an ordinary annuity.  It also instructs readers in detail on calculating the present and future values of an annuity due.  “Remember that the payment frequencies, or number of payments, and the time at which these payments are made (whether at the beginning or end of each payment period) are all variables you need to account for in your calculations.”

See Shauna Carther, Calculating The Present And Future Value Of Annuities, Investopedia, May 4, 2016.

May 5, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Virginia Faces Loss Of Historical Sites As Ages Takes Their Toll

HistoryVirginia is a state that downright seeps with historical significance with sites ranging from Civil War battlefields to the homes of U.S. Presidents with many other wonderful and ancient (as far as our country goes) but lesser known locations in addition. Among those other treasures of the past are sites that are under great threat from modern development as well as the ravages of time and are only now having protection sought. One example of this is a small cemetery in Charlottesville which was founded after the Civil War by freed slaves which was later abandoned and largely forgotten. However, interest in sites such as those is growing as local citizens seek to protect their heritage with the help of local government and organizations dedicated to preservation. As our nation faces growth and change that is unprecedented in human history, it is of great importance to protect areas of historical significance. Let us hope that more dedicated individuals follow the example of those in Virginia when it comes to making sure that parts of out shared past remain as monuments to those who came before.

See Joe Heim, Virginia’s most endangered places include black cemeteries, a legislative office complex, and a former slave dwelling, The Washington Post, May 3, 2016.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret for bringing this article to my attention.

May 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Japan Turns To "Hotels" As The Country Faces Crematorium Shortage

Japan SealJapan is a country that is facing a population aging faster than almost any other region of the world. As a result of this aging the nation has faced an increasing shortage of crematoriums, the preferred method of body disposal among Japanese, which has lead to the need for special locations to keep the corpses until a crematorium is found. Known as "corpse hotels," these business has popped up all over the nation including residential neighborhoods. As a result, disputes have arisen between the businesses and their neighbors ranging from desires for special ventilation to be installed to general distaste for what amounts to a funeral home being opened next door. However, those with deceased loved ones have been strong in their support for the establishments since it can take over a week to find an available crematorium which would have otherwise left families in a lurch.  But as the elderly population of Japan grows, the country will need to take steps to ensure that the ability to handle the dead keep up with the need.

See, Japan's corpse hotels upset some of the neighbors, AOL.com, April 29, 2016.

May 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Louisiana Supreme Court Declines To Review Benson Competency Case

BensonThe saga of the Benson family war over everything from car dealerships in Texas to pro sports teams in New Orleans has been widely covered in the news as it progressed through the courts. However, one front of that war seems to have reached a conclusion as the Supreme Court of Louisiana has declined to take an appeal regarding the competency of family patriarch Tom Benson. The appeal came from a trial held in New Orleans that found Mr. Benson competent to manage his own affairs. The challenge came from Benson's daughter and grandchildren who claimed that he was being manipulated by his current wife and executives from the Saints into removing his family from positions of power within his business empire. An appeal to the federal level is possible although there have been no indications that path will be taken. In any event, between this ruling and the settlement in the Texas case it appears that the long fight is nearing the end.

See John McCusker, After Louisiana Supreme Court denies appeal of Saints owner Tom Benson's competency ruling, here's what's next in case, The Advocate, May 2, 2016.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Book On Wills And Estate Administration

ArticleWills and Estate Administration by Kenneth Vercammen has been published by American Bar Association Publishing and is available in print and as an ebook. Provided below is a description of the book:

Straightforward and to-the-point, Wills and Estate Administration provides step-by-step guidance that firms can use to handle all aspects of an estates practice, from initial client intake to closing the file. Topics are defined in six parts for ease of use:

  • Preparation for Wills/Estate Planning Interviews
  • Interviewing Clients
  • Additional Estate Planning Issues
  • Estate Administration
  • Guardianship of Disabled or Incompetent Parents
  • Marketing Your Wills and Estate Administration Practice

May 5, 2016 in Books, Estate Administration, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)