Monday, June 27, 2016

Broken Refrigerator

Scraping a bit for probate and will related news this week. William "Refrigerator" Perry shot to stardom as the large defensive lineman who sometimes played running back for the awesome 1985 Chicago Bears. He allegedly could dunk a basketball even though he weighed 300 pounds. He now lives in South Carolina under a legal guardianship created by his brother when he was near death 7 years ago. Fridge's son wants to remove the brother as guardian while a court has stated that the guardianship can be removed if Fridge files the appropriate paperwork. Fridge, meanwhile, spends his days drinking with various friends, walking assisted by a walker, and generally not taking care of his health.
Several points:
1. Any interested party can apply to be the guardian of another with the supporting medical documentation. The son could have applied to serve as guardian in 2009 but did not.
2. Guardians are compensated for their services. Despite the son's allegations, the $1,250 annual compensation received by the brother is not the reason he continues to serve as guardian of Fridge.
3. A guy who starts drinking first thing in the morning and is unmotivated to file paperwork to remove a guardianship likely still needs the protection of the guardianship.
4. This has bothered me for 30 years. It has always been reported that Fridge could dunk a basketball. How hard would it have been to ask him to do it? It is not as if basketball courts are as scarce in this country as bobsled courses.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Who Is Philthy?

Phil Taylor, also known as Philthy Animal, was the drummer for Motorhead. He died of liver failure last November. Prior to his death, he divorced his wife of 15 years who he had not seen since several weeks after their wedding.  He also omitted her from his will. His estate was rumored to be worth $10 million.
Stretching to make several points:
1. In Ohio, a spouse can elect to receive 1/3 of the assets passing through the probate estate even if omitted from the will.
2. A former spouse has no statutory rights so Taylor was wise to finalize the divorce prior to his death.
3. I am surprised that someone with Taylor's reputation for wild behavior was able to organize his affairs to divorce his long missing spouse and prepare a will omitting her, just in case, prior to his death.
4. $10 million is a lot of money for the drummer of the 'worst band in the world". Of course, the Kardashians are Exhibit A that talent and net worth are not correlated.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Props to Jetblue Passengers

A woman was on a Jetblue flight to Orlando to attend the funeral of her grandson who was murdered last weekend by the Islamic terrorist. A Jetblue flight attendant whispered to each passenger about signing a sheet of paper to show their support for her. She wound up needing many pieces of paper because people were writing paragraphs of compassion for the grandmother. When the woman left the plane, every single passenger hugged her.


Read the whole article. Have your Kleenex at hand.




Sunday, June 12, 2016

Shake Down the Thunder

Aubrey McLendon was an Oklahoma City businessman who made his fortune in the energy business. He died in a March auto accident the day after he was indicted for allegedly rigging the price of oil and gas leases. He also owned 20% of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Attorneys for one of the lenders to his business have already filed motions in the probate court asking for input into the sale price of his interest in the NBA team. They fear the estate will sell it to his widow for less than the maximum price even though it is not currently for sale. They stated that the primary purpose of the probate court is to protect the interest of creditors.
Several quick points:
1. Under Ohio law, creditors have six months from the date of death to file a claim to protect their interest.
2, Once the claim is filed, they sit back and wait for the estate to be settled. Distributions may not be made until the creditor's claim has been paid.
3. I love it when high priced corporate lawyers bring their white shoes, prestigious degrees, high billable rates, and commensurate bluster to the serene probate area where the purpose, contrary to their belief about protecting creditors, is to ensure the orderly transfer of assets pursuant to a decedent's wishes in due time. Actually, I do not love it - I find it annoying.


Back From Vacation

Just returned from a week in the Caribbean. The British Virgin Islands are special. Post to follow soon. Meanwhile, here is the family pic from Cooper Island Beach Club.



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.