Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Free Legal Education Class On Cemetery Law And The Real Estate Lawyer

CLE PictureThe American Bar Association is presenting a free legal education class entitled, Professors' Corner: When Dirt and Death Collide: Cemetery Law and the Real Estate Lawyer, Wednesday September 9, 2015, 12:30-1:30PM Eastern, online.  Here are some details about the event:

The Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section is sometimes referred to as consisting of two parts—dirt (real property law) and death (trust and estate law). The September Professors' Corner focuses on the place where dirt and death law literally intersect—the law of cemeteries. Although few attorneys practice "cemetery law," most real estate attorneys have confronted issues regarding the presence of human remains in marked or unmarked graves. This Professors' Corner is intended to provide an overview of the structure of the legal landscape to better prepare attorneys to confront these issues.

Tanya Marsh, the author of "The Law of Human Remains" (2015) and "Cemetery Law" (2015), will outline the structure of cemetery law in the United States. Ryan Seidemann, a trained archaeologist and Assistant Attorney General in Louisiana, will discuss the laws governing the discovery of human remains and the obligations of property owners with respect to those remains. Dean Alterman has encountered cemetery law issues many times during his career and will discuss non-cemetery uses in cemeteries, including cell towers and easements, and issues with regulators and customers.

Our speakers will include: Professor Tanya D. Marsh, Wake Forest University School of Law, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Dean N. Alterman, Partner, Folawn Alterman & Richardson LLP, Portland, Oregon, and Ryan M. Seidemann, Assistant Attorney General, Section Chief - Lands & Natural Resources, Civil Division - Louisiana Department of Justice, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Professors' Corner is a FREE monthly webinar featuring a panel of law professors addressing topics of interest to practitioners of real estate and trust & estate law. Please note: the content of this program does not meet requirements for continuing legal education (CLE) accreditation. You will not receive CLE credit for When Dirt and Death Collide: Cemetery Law and the Real Estate Law.

September 2, 2015 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

South Dakota Banking Heir Now Broke?

BrokeThe Vucurevichs are something of a noble family as far as South Dakota is concerned due to the once extensive banking empire founded by family patriarch John. However, John's son Tom now appears to be broke after a claim sent to various creditors announced the Vucurevich estate is out of money. This comes as a surprise to many since Tom was viewed as one of the wealthiest men in the state and is associated with a number of high end projects that might now be in jeopardy if the insolvency claim is true. However, situations such as this are increasingly common due to the inherent difficulty in maintaining wealth down through the generations even when advanced planning techniques are used. Multigenerational wealth tends to sputter by the third generation in no small part due to the impossibility of all heirs having the capacity to live within their means no matter how great. While many claim the Vucurevich family is hiding assets, this insolvency claim still serves as an example that a it only takes one person to build, and another to unfortunately lose, a fortune.

See Jonathan Ellis, Banking magnate heir says he's flat broke, USA Today, August 30, 2015.

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

September 2, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article On The Certainty Of Term Requirement In Leases

Article PictureIan Williams (Faculty of Laws, University College London) recently published an article entitled, Explaining the Certainty of Term Requirement in Leases: Nothing Lasts Forever, Cambridge Law Journal, Forthcoming. Provided below is an abstract of the article:

This article explains the rule that leases have a certain term from the outset by placing the lease within the wider context of the system of estates in land. There are no perpetual estates in land. However, some uncertain terms risk creating genuinely perpetual estates, conflicting with the nemo dat principle. All leases for uncertain terms cause considerable difficulties if a superior estate comes to an end. The article shows that the common law addressed this difficulty, not entirely consistently, before 1925, but there are still real difficulties in the operation of escheat were uncertain terms to be permitted.

September 2, 2015 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Death Cafes Growing In Popularity As People Become More Willing To Discuss Dying

Death cafePublic attitudes about dying are starting to shift as a unique venue known as “Death Cafes” are rising in popularity.  This article explores the growing phenomenon of people meeting in casual groups to discuss many of the issues that surround death.  The intention is to create a warm thoughtful atmosphere where people can feel comfortable discussing these difficult topics.  The death café concept originated in London but has since spread to as many as 31 different countries.  Overcoming the fear of death is an important issue for many baby boomers who are facing the prospect of growing old.  This article also discusses some of the online services that are offered to give people a chance to discuss these issues. 

See Harriet Sherwood, Anyone for tea and sympathy?  Death cafes embrace last taboo, The Guardian, August 29, 2015.  

September 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Technology, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Princess Diana’s Grave Being Left To Nature

Diana graveIt has been 18 years since Princess Diana passed away in a tragic automobile accident and today her grave located at Althorp Estate is being left to nature.  Photographs reveal Diana’s grave covered in flowers and foliage as her final resting place is going to become “part of the ancient landscape over time.”  A spokesman for the estate claims that the growth in foliage is intended to provide the burial place of the late princess with more privacy.  Althorp estate, which contains about 13,000 acres located in Northhamptonshire, was Diana’s home before her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981.  Some of the critics to the plan to leave Diana’s grave site to nature include Darren McGrady, a former chef of the Princess, who voiced his displeasure about the plan on Twitter. 

See Laura Connor, Princess Diana’s grave 18 years on is coated in greenery as estate lets site ‘go back to nature,’ The Mirror, August 31, 2015.

September 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elderly Man’s Will Being Examined Amid Capital Murder Investigation

PattersonAccording to investigators elderly man Martin Knell’s murder on January 28 may have involved a dispute with one of the two suspects over decedents will.  Martin “Mark” Knell Jr., the son of the 96-year-old decedent, has filed a probate case after learning that his father had drafted a new will about a month before his passing.  Melissa Monica Patterson was named both the executor and a major beneficiary of Knell’s estate in the new will even though she only knew the decedent for 90 days.  The circumstances are suspicious because Patterson has ties to Palacios family which has influence in Hidalgo County.  The son is making the claim that his father may have lacked testamentary capacity when he drafted the new will. 

See Ashly Custer, Will of elderly man under review amid capital murder investigation, The Valley Central, August 28, 2015.

September 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seventh Circuit Court Holds That Estate Cannot Set Aside IRS Settlement

IrsThe Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has recently held that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not abuse its discretion when it denied an estate’s motion to vacate a settlement.  In M. Billhartz, Exr., an estate wanted to set aside an agreement it reached with the IRS about the deductibility of assets that were paid to a decedent’s children.  The children alleged in their suit that the amount they were entitled to was greater than the “waiver agreement” from five years before.  The estate claimed it was entitled to deductions under Internal Revenue Code Section 2053(a)(3) for additional payments made to the children and moved for the case to be restored to the original docket.  The opinion of the Seventh Circuit Court can be read here

See Wolters Kluwer, Estate Could Not Set Aside Settlement, Resource Full Law, August 31, 2015.

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

September 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article On The Law of Human Remains

Article PictureTanya D. Marsh (Professor of Law, Wake Forest Law School) recently published an article entitled, The Law of Human Remains, The Law of Human Remains (Lawyers and Judges Publishing Company, 2015). Provided below is an abstract of the article:

A human cadaver is no longer a person, but neither is it an object to be easily discarded. As a result of this tenuous legal status, human remains occupy an uneasy position in U.S. law. Perhaps because of what anthropologist Ernest Becker called our “universal fear of death,” the law of human remains occupies a remarkably unexamined niche of U.S. law.

The Law of Human Remains is an ambitious effort to collect, organize and state the legal rules and principles regarding the status, treatment and disposition of human remains in the United States. The most recent comprehensive overview of the law was published in 1950 (Percival Jackson's The Law of Cadavers). The Law of Human Remains builds on that work by creating detailed summaries of each individual state’s laws and regulations. This unprecedented resource allows readers to quickly identify the often fascinating differences that exist between states.

By defining and describing this neglected area of law, The Law of Human Remains simultaneously establishes the theoretical and doctrinal basis for the law of human remains and provides a framework so that attorneys and courts can more easily discover, understand, and use the law.

The first part of the book establishes the foundational principles of the common law of human remains in the United States and outlines major federal statutes on the subject. It then restates and explains legal doctrines in five categories. The second part of the book includes detailed summaries of each state’s laws on each of the doctrines explained in Part I. Statutes and leading cases are cited and explained, providing a valuable resource for attorneys and courts.

September 1, 2015 in Articles, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Public Opinion Shift Now Allows Doctors To Talk With Patients About End Of Life Options

MedicalEnd of life choice is a difficult talk for anyone and has been at the center of political controversy since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. However, as public mood has shifted, Medicare is now calling for the ability to reimburse doctors for visits in which they talk about end of life options with a patient. Currently, reimbursement if only possible on the first visit which critics say hurts patients by depriving them of knowledge about advance care plans. Private insurance companies have begun to cover these visits and doctors in some states have been encouraged for years to work these talks into normal office visits. But any change is likely to be slow due to strong opposition from groups that fear governmental agencies will use doctors to encourage people to accept death rather than fight for life. Legislation has been introduced to allow Medicare to cover advance care planning but has not found enough traction to pass into law. One thing is for sure though, this is an issue that will only grow in importance as a record number of American's enter old age.

See  Kristian Foden-Vencil, Medicare: Doctors Should Get Paid For End-Of-Life Talks, OPB, August 18, 2015.

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

September 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE On Trust Protectors For Trusts For Individuals With Special Needs

CLE PictureThe American Bar Association is presenting a CLE entitled, Trust Protectors for Trusts for Individuals with Special Needs: Not an Option Anymore - But Not Just Boilerplate, Monday September 21, 2015, 12:00-1:30pm Central, online.  Here are some details about the event:

ABA Members join RPTE for $70 to save $55 on this and future RPTE teleconferences, sign up at Register online. Find upcoming programming here . You may also email Michael.Kesler@americanbar.org, or call 312-988-5260. Visit www.shopaba.org to update your preferences to receive future program announcements via e-mail.

This program will be available on audio CD and MP3. Order from the ABA Web Store
(search by program title or keyword).

Cancellations and requests for refunds will be honored on the following basis: Two business days or more, 100% refund; one business day or less, 100% refund minus the $25 administrative fee. Substitute registrants are welcome. The ABA will seek 1.5 hours of CLE credit in 60-minute states and 1.8 hours of CLE credit in 50- minute states in states accrediting ABA live webinars and teleconferences.* Credit hours granted are subject to each state’s approval and credit rounding rules. NY- licensed attorneys: This non-transitional CLE program has been approved for experienced NY-licensed attorneys in accordance with the requirements of the New York State CLE Board for 1.5 New York CLE credits.

September 1, 2015 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)