Sunday, June 29, 2014

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

The NYT blogged about a woman who left her estate to her daughters while disinheriting the children of her son who predeceased her.  Although she was suffering from dementia, two weeks before her death she re-affirmed a prior will which included the grandchildren from her dead son.  She then changed her mind five days later and excluded the grandchildren.  The grandchildren challenged the will and eventually settled for a small amount to be shared among them.   The protagonist granddaughter decried that she wished her grandmother had conversed with her about the will and that she wished her grandmother had left her wishes in a letter.

Several points:

1.   Wills may be challenged on the grounds of undue influence ("Mom, leave it to us, our dead brother's kids are never around") and lack of mental capacity (i.e. dementia).  Both grounds seem to be present in this case.  It seems that they could have fought longer for their father's share.

2.  When one's parent dies and one wishes to inherit the deceased parent's share of a grandmother's estate, constant contact, e-mails, visits, thinking of you cards, and holiday gatherings are time well spent.

3.  Contrary to the granddaughter's naive wishes, clients never tell someone they are are being disinherited much less express those wishes in a writing.  The will serves as that written document.  The woman, Kate, was smart to not use her last name lest she and her naivete be subject to ridicule by those who met her.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fortress Around His Heart

Sting was in the news this week due to his announcement that he does not intend to leave his $300 million fortune to his six children at his death.  He believes that a trust fund would be an albatross around their necks.

Several points:

1.   I think leaving money to charities instead of the six people in the world he loves the most is over-reactive.  A trust can be structured to provide incentives to his children to work and be productive while providing  safety net for them.

2.  Most people would be willing to suffer through that albatross.

3.  $300 million is impressive for a man who has produced only unmemorable, monotone dirges in the 30 years since breaking up the Police.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The "Fun" in Funeral

Taking another break from newsworthy estate issues, the NYT reported about the beginning of a funeral trend primarily in New Orleans where the deceased is not in a coffin but is posed as if alive.  A 53 year old woman was recently posed at a table holding her cigarette with a can of Busch beer in front of her. In April, a socialite was posed sitting on a bench on a downtown theater greeting guests.

Several points:

1.  Although the Big Easy boasts of putting the fun in funeral, spectacles are not always fun but can be morbid.

2.  I suspect that the beer and cigarette depicted might have contributed to the woman's death at 53.

3. I know they were going for authenticity, but the woman was posed with a Busch beer instead of a nice microbrew as her final beer?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

No More Scooby Snacks. Or Water.

The bizarre and emotional battle over the medical care of Casey Kasem is nearing an end.  An LA County judge has authorized his daughter to have doctors withdraw his feeding tubes.  The ruling follows Kasem's wishes as expressed in his 2007 living will.  The ruling also adheres to his health care power of attorney which gave his daughter authority over his medical decisions (and not his wife).  Jean Kasem, an actress known for  playing dumb blonde roles, maintains that the daughter is sentencing him to death because she wants his money.

Several points:

1.  Usually a living will and health care power of attorney will avoid this acrimonious situation.

2.  It is too bad that the public has had to view the reason Kasem trusted his daughter with his medical decisions and not his wife.

3.  Like Kasem, I would not want someone who throws meat at others when angry in charge of my medical decisions.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Our Mortality

Taking a break from newsworthy death related issues, I found this interesting piece on causes of death by state.   If you do not want to read it, I will tell you that the most likely cause of death for Ohioans is heart disease, that we are disproportionately affected by diabetes, and that we have a higher than average rate of deaths from cancer, respiratory and kidney diseases, strokes, and  Alzheimer's.

Several points:

1.   Ohio is a cauldron of death.  It is not for estate tax reasons that people move to Florida.

2.  Bonus points for knowing the meaning of Septicemia (disproportionately represented in Texas and other Southern states).

3.  Casey Kasem is doomed.  His family should not have moved him to Washington which is disproportionately represented by deaths from Alzheimer's disease.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Class of 2014

Congratulations to my daughter, Blair, who graduated from the The Seven Hills School last night.  She will become an Indiana Hoosier in August.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Unfashionable Probate

Fashion designer Oleg Cassini became famous for designing Jackie Kennedy's pillbox hats.  He was also known for marrying actress Gene Tierney, dating Grace Kelly, and dressing Marilyn Monroe.  He died in 2006 survived by a daughter from his marriage to Gene Tierney and by his secret wife of 35 years, Marianne Nestor, who most assumed was his employee.  His will left $1 million to his daughter and the balance of his $52 million estate to his widow.  His daughter was unaware of his marriage to Ms. Nestor until after his death.   His daughter successfully contested the will on the grounds that Cassini's 1952 divorce decree from Tierney promised his daughter 25% of his estate.  Because his widow has not yet paid the sum to her, has spent estate funds without court authorization, and did not have insurance on a $30 million house that burned, the probate court has removed the widow as executrix of the estate.

Several points:

1.  Apparently a provision in a 50+ year old divorce decree where the other party is divorced trumps a will.

2.  When there is a secret marriage and the wife is only 5 years older than a daughter, I advise naming a neutral third party as executor for efficient execution of the will.

3.  When a secret marriage exists, it is doubly damaging for the child to find out about it from a hospital nurse the day her father died.

4.  In the fashion world, I doubt Yves St. Laurent, Christian Dior, and Gianni Versace had estate disputes between their wives and children.  Nor will Karl Lagerfeld.