Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Who Wants Flowers When You Are Dead? Nobody."

Lamont Buchanan, the reputed role model for the second greatest fictional character of all-time (Holden Caufield of “Catcher in the Rye”) died without a will two years ago. A woman claiming to be his long-lost 80 year old niece was located by several heir hunting firms and has now stepped forward and filed documentation to prove that she is his closest living kin. Buchanan was an author who lived in an NYC rent controlled apartment and essentially stopped working in the mid-50's. His estate is valued at $15 million.
A few points:
1. A childless widower worth $15 million should take the time and splurge on legal fees to prepare a will so his fortune ends up with those charities or people important to him rather than defaulting to a woman who was unaware of his death.
2. After estate taxes, a $15 million estate in NY is worth $10 million.
3. Perhaps the owners of his rent controlled apartment should share in his estate because the mandatory low rents likely contributed to his accumulated wealth.
4. It would be ironic if the woman claiming to be Buchanan’s niece is a phony.
                                           Photo credit:   NY Dailynews
                                           License:  Fair Use/Education

The King of Cruelty

When unfunny comedian, Jerry Lewis, died last month, he was survived by 5 sons from his first marriage, his second wife (SanDee, a former Vegas dancer 25 years younger than him), and a daughter from his second marriage.
His 2012 will left his entire estate to his wife and daughter. He purposefully excluded his six sons (including his son who died of a heroin overdose in 2009) and their descendants. Lewis' sons had long accused him of treating them cruelly with the deceased son claiming that he had beaten them viciously. When that son died in 2009, Lewis refused to pay for his funeral. Lewis is reportedly only worth several million dollars, but the value of his estate is in the movie rights he owns to his movies.
Several minor points:
1. Lewis was not obligated to leave anything to his sons.
2. It was smart of him to specifically exclude the descendants of the deceased son so someone cannot try to claim part of the estate by alleging to be an illegitimate grandchild.
3. I would have taken the under on an allegedly cruel man remaining married to a Vegas dancer with two capital letters in her name for 35 years.


Photo credit:  Wireimage
License:  Fair Use/Education

Sunday, September 3, 2017

When Plans Work Out 2

Jack won the open race at yesterday's Lebanon Cross Country Invitational. When he learned he would be running the open race, he softly mentioned that he could win it. His plan was to be near the front and then take the lead - which he did at the 1.5 mile mark. As proud as I am of him, I am even happier for him.


I Have My Stuff, I Do Not Need Yours

It is another fallow period for celebrity estate planning news - the deaths of Jerry Lewis, Dick Gregory, and Ara Parseghian have yielded nothing newsworthy to date. Meanwhile, the NYT has an interesting piece on how children do not want their parents’ possessions when the parents downsize or move into a retirement home (or die). I see this with many of my clients and their children.
A few brief points:
1. In the age of furniture and decorations from Ikea and Wayfair, people do not want to decorate their homes with their parents’ 50 year old household items.
2. Unless an item is incredibly unique (i.e. Tiffany lamp, Baccarat crystal), it likely has little monetary value.
3. Personally, when my grandmother moved into a nursing home 20 years ago, all I wanted was her vintage lava lamp but I was also given (i.e. asked to remove) the bedroom set which I quickly disposed of.
4. If you have something you do not use or like, throw it away so your children do not have to throw it away after you die.

Photo Credit:  T.J. Kirkpatrick for New York Times (pic is from linked article)
License:  Fair Use/Education

Following the Eclipse Herd

Would you have either of these guys draft your will? I ran into Chuck Meyer (Santen and Hughes) during the eclipse at the Banks. 

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