Thursday, May 26, 2016

Unduly Influenced Boss (Sumner Redstone Pt. 5)

Viacom and CBS President, Sumner Redstone, is back in the news this week. He removed Phillipe Dauman and George Abrams, who are directors of Viacom, as Trustees of one of his trusts. They are contesting their removal by alleging he is incompetent. In a huge twist of irony/self-preservation/whatever you want to call it, only six months ago they testified he was competent to remove a girlfriend as his health care proxy.

Three brief points:

1. The stakes in the previous battle involved who could make his health care decisions if he could not (while the real plot was whether he could change his will to disinherit his former girlfriend) while these stakes are who gets to control Viacom and CBS after Redstone's death.
2. I think if Redstone is in a wheelchair, being fed by a feeding tube, and able to communicate only through an aide now, and was in the same condition six months ago, he was likely incompetent at both junctures.
3. Dauman and Abrams have reaped what they have sown. Being close to Redstone is like having an alligator as a pet - it might seem cool, but eventually it (i.e. he) will devour you.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Hillary and Hypocrisy Both Start With "H"

Hillary Clinton's recently released financial disclosure statement reveals that she and her husband both created a qualified personal residence trust in 2010 and transferred ownership of their NY home to it. They did not transfer their more expensive Washington DC house to a similar trust.
Several quick educational points:
1. A qualified personal residence trust allows them to transfer the house at a discounted gift tax value based on how long they wish to reside in the house and the current interest rates.
2. For example, if they decided to live in the house for the next 20 years (and not die), they would be able to transfer the entire $1.7 million house to Chelsea while only valuing it at $400K for gift tax purposes.
3. Future appreciation is also excluded from their estate.
4. They would have been wise to transfer the DC property via this technique because that house has doubled in value while the NY property has only increased nominally.
5. While this estate planning technique is available to everyone, I find it hypocritical that a woman campaigning for higher estate taxes and other taxes in the name of the greater good does everything she can to avoid those taxes.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Laughing at Death

When a Richmond, VA woman died last week, her obituary read "Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass (into the eternal love of God).
No pithy comments, she already made one.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

One Disinherited Ex-Girlfriend

The reports of a settlement between Sumner Redstone and Manuela Herzer over her replacement as his health care proxy were premature. There actually was a brief trial over the dispute which ended with the judge dismissing Herzer's suit to remain as his health care decision maker. The judge relied on a 7 minute deposition of Redstone in which the few intelligible sentences he uttered were "Manuela is a ****ing bitch" (twice) and "I want Manuela out of my life. Yeah." Of course Herzer's attorneys have vowed to appeal.

Several points:

1. This case remains about Redstone's will which he changed at the same time as his health care power of attorney. Herzer was reportedly to receive $70 million at his death.

2. Herzer, who smartly declined an offer of marriage from Redstone, has reportedly received $75 million in gifts from him while the woman who did become his second wife only received $10 million because she signed a pre-nup.

3. While Redstone, like the recently deceased Prince, believes he will live forever, at least he has planned for his death by having a will and various trusts.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Float Like a Butterfly, Get Stung By a Bee

The ever not so eloquent, Snoop Dogg, was asked this week if he had a will or estate plan. His NSFW response was, "I don’t give a f--- when I’m dead. What am I gonna give a f--- about? This goin’ on while I’m gone, you know?"

And continuing in his non-King's English, he added, "Hopefully, I’m a butterfly, I come back and fly around and look at all these motherf-----s fighting over my money and s--t, like, 'Look at all these dumb motherf-----s.' Ha!”
Only four sentences, but so many points. Minimizing them:
1, Snoop can make life easier for his loved ones if he spends a bit of time deciding who should inherit the wealth accumulated from his questionable talents. He could eliminate any people claiming to be his illegitimate child by naming people in his will.
2. Prince reportedly has had 900 people come forward for DNA testing claiming to be his haIf-siblings while anyone who can establish that he is Prince's child, will hit the jackpot and inherit all of Prince's wealth.
3. Raise your hand sheepishly if you think Snoop has fewer illegitimate children than Prince. You would be wrong.
4. I doubt Snoop views his family as loved ones when he refers to them as "dumb motherf-----s."
5. Maybe it is just me, but if I were reincarnated, unlike Snoop I would prefer to return as something more fierce and substantial than a short lived insect with pretty wings.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Piece of Britney

When Britney Spears had her breakdown in 2008 (think shaved head and window smashing), her father and attorney became her conservators. In Ohio, they would be known as guardians. They manage both her physical well being and her finances. As such, they make sure she takes her medicine for her unspecified illness as well as manage her career.

In recent years, Britney, who has been described as shy has not testified at hearings about continuing the conservatorship. She reportedly is only interested in seeing her sons. Her father receives 1.5% of the $17.5 million annual revenues from her Planet Hollywood shows and the same cut from the merch sales. Her court appointed attorney has received $2 million in fees since 2008 and the other conservators have received $6.7 million.

Three brief points:

1. Britney clearly needed someone to assist her in 2008 while she was crumbling. She is likely still alive, while Michael Jackson and Prince are not, because of that.

2. Guardianships can be temporary and Britney's seems to be a perfect example of temporary intervention being all that is required. She should have the right to make stupid decisions on her own.

3. I doubt that I am the only one who read the NYT article who thought that Britney was nothing more than a trained seal performing at the behest of her inner circle for the reward of seeing her sons.