Monday, August 14, 2017

They Still Might Get Away With It

A Mason family - Mitch, Patricia, and Candace Stevenson - was indicted by a federal grand jury in June for money laundering associated with the receipt of life insurance proceeds. Allegedly, Patricia and Candace were the beneficiaries of two policies totaling nearly $3 million on the life of Mitch’s sister, Tina.
The 2009 application for life insurance stated that Tina had never been diagnosed with diabetes nor had taken medication within the previous 12 months. A physical exam was performed on a woman in Texas weighing 170 pounds. Tina actually weighed 380 pounds when she was in an emergency room three weeks prior to the application. Tina died in early 2012. Patricia and Candace received the death benefits and used them to purchase a Bentley convertible, make a $280K down payment on a former Homearama house, and other purchases. Unrelated, or perhaps not, Mitch and his son, Steven, have also allegedly been involved in a scrap metal scan.
Whew. Several points.
1. In Ohio, life insurance policies become incontestable two years after the application even if there is fraud. Companies have to pay the death benefit.
2. The Stevensons are likely being charged with money laundering because they cannot be charged with insurance fraud.
3. Money laundering is the crime of hiding the source of proceeds from a crime. I am not sure that using funds from a life insurance policy to purchase lots of bling amounts to money laundering.
4. In the bizarre coincidence category, the house purchased by the Stevensons was the subject of bank fraud 10 years ago that caused the builder to spend time in prison.
5. The Stevenson parents remain unindicted for naming their son Steven Stevenson.


Photo Credit:  Cincinnati Enquirer/Keith BieryGolick
License:  Fair Use/Education

Friday, August 4, 2017

Shooting and Drowning, Oh My

John Chakalos was a Connecticut octogenarian worth $40 million when he was murdered in 2013. No one has been charged with his killing although he was shot with the same type of gun his then 20 year old grandson had recently purchased.
Chakolos' estate is to be distributed equally among his 4 daughters. However, last year one of his daughters, the mother of the gun owning grandson, disappeared at sea after the boat she was in with her son sank at sea after some holes were improperly repaired. The son/grandson was found 8 days later on a life raft. Now the 3 surviving daughters have asked the Connecticut probate court to declare the grandson as the murderer of Chakalos which they hope will prevent him from inheriting his mother's share of the estate (and leave more for them).
Several points and one question:
1. The grandson should inherit his mother's share of the estate. Slayer statutes apply when someone has been convicted of murder not merely suspected of murder.
2. Getting a bit wonky, the share of the now deceased daughter vested in her so technically she will inherit it and her estate will receive it and distribute it pursuant to her will.
3. If the Slayer Statute were to be applied, it should be applied to her estate although once again the son/grandson has not been convicted of her murder.
4. Is a 20 year old really capable of pulling off a perfect crime then repeating his success three years later?
5. If not, bad luck and odd coincidences certainly seem to follow the grandson.
Photo Credit: Facebook?
License:  Fair Use/Education

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Griffin Appeal Is Road Kill

A slow news cycle finally ended this week with a local story. The Griffins are a large Northern Kentucky family which owned a rendering business (think road kill and restaurant grease) that was sold for $840 million in 2010. The business was operated along traditional gender roles with the males running the business and the women not participating.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a $584 verdict against two of the Griffin brothers in favor of three of their sisters. The verdict stemmed from the brothers’ handling of their parents’ estates two and three decades ago. The sisters became aware that something might have been amiss with the way the estates were handled when a piece of real estate they should have inherited was transferred to the family company for $1 in 2010 to facilitate the sale of the company. A federal court’s award of $178 million to each daughter was the subject of the appeal.
Four points and one disclaimer:
1. In the interest of full disclosure, half of my life ago I worked for the firm which represented the Griffin sons although I have no knowledge of the family or the matter.
2. I remain surprised that some of the claims by the sisters are not barred by the statute of limitations because the parents died 20 and 30 years ago respectively and their estates were probated then.
3. Good estate planning documents and/or a buy sell agreement which provided that the family business was to be transferred to the sons would have prevented most of this dispute.
4. The Supreme Court only hears cases involving questions of law or where courts differ on legal interpretation of an issue. Neither seems to apply here so this case is likely over.
5. Sale of real estate for $1? One would think that people in the rendering business would certainly know the mantra that pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.


Photo Credit:  Bruce Crippin/Cincinnati Business Courier
License:  Fair Use/Education

Friday, July 21, 2017

TML Again

I guest wrote Paul Daugherty’s TML blog today in the Cincinnati Enquirer. I cover Zach Cozart, OJ, some UC stuff, and a report from a family vacation (including a slideshow) that Doc suggested.
I hope you enjoy it. Thanks to Dan Izenson and Mark Sims for some topic ideas.


Photo Credit:  Jay Brinker
License:  None


Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Sensation

The British press is abuzz with speculation that Tiger Lily Hutchence (full name - Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof) will inherit “millions” when she turns 21 next week. She is the daughter of the late INXS frontman, Michael Hutchence, who died in 1997 with a net worth reportedly between “penniless” and $40 million. Tiger Lily’s mom, Paula Yates, died from a heroin overdose four years later. Tiger Lily was later adopted by Yates’ former husband, Bob Geldof, who founded Live Aid and was later knighted.
A few points, only one of them really relevant:
1. I always discourage my clients from allowing their children to inherit any money, much less “millions”, when turning 21. I advise releasing trust funds in increasing amounts over a period of years.
2. Apropos of nothing, I think it is commendable of Bob Geldof to raise the daughter of his ex-wife and the man she left him for after the little girl was orphaned.
3. Whatever she inherits from her dad, nothing can compensate Tiger Lily for the tragedy in her life - the deaths of her parents, the heroin overdose of her half-sister, and the silly name bestowed upon her by her parents.

Photo Credit:  Unknown
License:  Fair Use/Education

Monday, July 17, 2017

Of Memorabilia and Men

Willie DeLuca was the manager of famed Cincinnati restaurant, Sorrentos Pizzeria. He was famous for having a heart of gold, appearing on David Letterman to balance stuff on his nose, and collecting sports and entertainment memorabilia (including hair from JFK and Paul McCartney) that he valued at $1 million. DeLuca died in 2006 and left his entire estate in a testamentary trust to his only child, Enrico. The trust funds and memorabilia were distributed to Enrico when he turned 21 several years ago. Enrico is now suing his uncle, Art DeLuca, for allegedly taking some of the memorabilia that was left to him by his father. The uncle had posted some of the items for sale on Facebook recently.

Several small points:

1. I never prepare testamentary trusts for my clients because they are a public record. A living trust is private and more flexible.

2. I also never advise my clients to have a trust distribute all of its assets when the child turns 21 - that age is too young for most children to manage the inheritance responsibly.

3. Enrico might have a statute of limitations problem with proving his claim because Willie died 10+ years ago and Enrico is only now filing suit.

4. Posting items for sale on Facebook which are a public record as belonging to Willie’s estate and trust is not advisable.

5. Hair snippets from JFK and Paul McCartney? How does one acquire those? Regardless, I would not give a nickel for them.


Photo Credit:   Cincinnati Enquirer/File Photo
License:  Fair Use/Education

Back From Europe

Just returned from 10 days in Central Europe with Janice, Blair, and Jack. Visited Prague, Bratislava, Vienna, and Munich. Below pic is my favorite from the trip. Post to follow later.