Sunday, August 28, 2016

What Happens in Vegas, Stays In Vegas?

Las Vegas billionaire Kirk Kirkorian died last June a the age of 98. His $2 billion estate has been subject to litigation since his death. A young woman who claimed to be his daughter, but was proven long ago to be the child of the notorious lothario Steve Bing, recently settled her challenge to Kirkorian's will. Non-paternity notwithstanding, Kirkorian paid $50,000 per month in child support to Kira Bonder until she was 10. As part of her mother's divorce settlement with Kirkorian after their 30 day marriage, Bonder was supposed to receive $7 million in trust upon Kirkorian's death. Nonetheless, she challenged that provision and settled for $8.5 million.
Several obvious points:
1. As the daughter of another man, Kira Bonder was not entitled to any of Kirkorian's estate so challenging a bequest seems to be without legal merit.
2. For Bonder's sake, I hope that the attorney who handled the will contest charged her based on time spent or on contingency for the increase from $7 million. It would not be fair to her to have to pay him a percentage of the $7 million she was promised and provided.
3. The first dollar Bonder receives from Kirkorkian will likely be more than she ever receives from her biological father who also contentiously fathered a child with Elizabeth Hurley.
4. What happens in Vegas is not necessarily applicable to the rest of the U.S.

Monday, August 22, 2016

This Never Works, So Why Try - Redux

A Penn State professor was allegedly murdered last week by the woman to whom he offered shelter and her friend. The professor was allegedly pushed off a cliff because he had recently revised his will and they thought they would benefit from his death. The woman was also miffed because he had criticized the parenting of her child. One of the reasons cited by the police in their arrest of the couple was they were "known drug users."

 One legal point and two "I can't believe this" points":

1. Most states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, have "slayer statutes" which preclude murderers from benefiting from the will of someone they murdered.

 2. It is incredibly presumptuous of the woman and her friend to assume that they were named as beneficiaries of the professor's new will.

 3. If "known drug user" is a marker for a criminal, then half of the adult population of Colorado are suspects for crimes there.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Two Words, George. Pre-Nup.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard settled their divorce case this week for $7 million which Heard has pledged to charity. She had reportedly been seeking spousal support and half of his net worth as a result of their 15 month marriage. During the proceedings, Heard alleged that Depp had abused her. The couple did not have a pre-nuptial agreement.

Several brief points:

1. Depp should have insisted on a pre-nuptial agreement which could have provided that he owed Heard nothing in the event of a divorce.

2. The absence of a pre-nup does not entitle Heard to half of Depp's net worth, but only to what he earned during their 15 month marriage.

3. Anyone making bets on the length of a marriage between a hard partying heterosexual male and a declared bi-sexual woman 20 years younger than him should always take the under.

4. I have long told Janice that her crush on Depp was misplaced. I might finally be vindicated for that opinion.



Monday, August 8, 2016

Purple Reign?

The Santa Monica Observer, a weekly newspaper, is reporting that a DNA test shows that a Washington man in his 30's is the illegitimate son of Prince. The man's mother reportedly played in the same clubs as Prince in the 1980's. He and his mother are reportedly estranged due to her contacting him after Prince's death by a Facebook message imploring him to call her by saying "Prince might be your, father call me."
Several pithy points:
1. If the story is true, the man would be Prince's closest living relative and in position to inherit his entire estate.
2. However, if the man had been adopted by another man, his right to inherit from Prince would be closed off because Prince would not be considered his father.
3. Odd that this story is reported only by the Santa Monica equivalent of City Beat which is known for concert listings, hating all Republicans and the local and state government, and for classified ads of men seeking men and women seeking women.
4. Perhaps the national media is too busy asking about Hillary's missing e-mails, her health, and her refusal to hold a press conference in 2016 to bother themselves with updating the search for Prince's heirs.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Two Halves Do Not Make a Whole

Stepping away from celebrities for a minute and focusing on estate laws, yesterday the IRS issued proposed regulations to minimize valuation discounts in estate planning. In a nutshell, the regulations prohibit taxpayers from dividing property between family members and then claiming their proportionate shares are not worth the exact proportion because that small proportion does not have control of the property. Wonky? Yes.

Three small points:

1. These regulations have been bandied about for 25 years.

2. From a practice viewpoint, I have never completely bought into the idea of valuation discounts for marketable securities transferred to an LLC or partnership solely for the purpose of obtaining a reduced value for estate tax purposes.

3. Nonetheless, this issue seems to be one for Congress to address through legislation rather than one more edict from a lame duck (re: imperial) administration to issue in its waning days.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Simon Says This Is Not a Gift

Mel Simon owned the Indiana Pacers with his brother, Herb, for 16 years. After the Malice in the Palace in 2004, the Pacers started losing money and Simon became disenchanted with his ownership of the team. He sold his interest to his brother in a very quiet deal that was two years in the making. The terms included being released from various personal guarantees. Simon died shortly thereafter of pancreatic cancer. The IRS determined that the deal was so favorable to his brother that his estate owes a gift tax of $21 million. His widow has sued the IRS for a refund of the gift tax paid.
Several quick points:
1. An individual may give away $5.45 million during his life before he has to start paying gift tax.
2. The gift tax rate is 40%.
3. The donor is the person responsible for paying the gift tax.
4. This deal between brothers sounds complicated. It is doubtful that one brother would intentionally give the other $83 million.
5. The widow can afford the tax bill - Simon's estate was valued at $2 billion because of his pioneering development of shopping malls.
6. Ironic that Simon's loss of interest in basketball ownership is tied to the Malice in the Palace. Ron Artest - the gift that keeps on giving.


Back At It

In addition to a dearth of worthy estate planning news, it has been a busy and awesome two weeks. Two concerts, a soccer game in Columbus, business trip to Cleveland, and usual bike rides. With all of that, Jack's smile is the highlight of the past two weeks. Post to follow.