Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cincinnati Pride (Part 3)

The NYT reported about the revival of downtown Cincinnati real estate.  If you are from out of town, come visit us. If you are from Cincinnati, brag about us.  It is a great time to be a Cincinnatian.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Greg Plitt's Final Run

Greg Plitt, the "star" of Bravo's "Work Out" show, was struck and killed by a train last month while allegedly filming a commercial for an energy drink which involved him trying to outrun a train.  Sources indicate that his will was not witnessed so TMZ has reported that his father has applied to be the administrator of his $800K estate.

Three quick points:

1.  TMZ is not the bastion of legal accuracy so they are incorrect in stating that Plitt's father will determine which creditors get paid and "how the remaining money gets divvied up."  The intestacy statute of California requires that his parents will share his estate.

2.  Any 37 year old should have a will.  It is part of being a grown up even if adolescence is delayed while being a fitness model.

3. While we know that Plitt fatefully disregarded his parents' advice about not playing on train tracks, it remains uncertain if he disregarded his parents' admonitions about not running with sharp objects in his hand, playing with matches, and looking both ways before crossing the street.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Eggs On Ice

Before a young British woman died of cancer 4 years ago, she froze her ovarian eggs.  Her 59 year old mother now wishes to have the eggs fertilized by a sperm donor in an attempt to give birth to her daughter's child.  A NYC fertility clinic has agreed to assist the woman for $90,000. Britain 's Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has denied the woman's application to receive the eggs and send them to NY because there is no clear evidence of  the deceased's wishes.

Several points:

1.  I have addressed this issue twice in my practice.  When actual embryos are involved, I specify in the will who will receive the embryos.  With respect to gametic material, the Hamilton County Probate Court allows it to be given to a will beneficiary without it being specifically mentioned.

2.  As a U.S. citizen, I am thankful we do not have a know it all organization like the  HFEA interfering with an individual's decisions and wishes.

3.  I suspect the legal issues in a case involving frozen sperm would be stickier.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Let's Litigate Two!

In playing his entire Hall of Fame career for the Chicago Cubs, Ernie Banks became the most famous and beloved player in Cubs history.  At the time of his death last month, he had been estranged from his third wife for 7 years.  He revised his will several months before his death to leave all of his assets to his caregiver of several years and to nominate her as his executrix.  His sons are questioning the validity of his will while his ex-wife has gone to court to prevent the caregiver from cremating his body and spreading his ashes in Wrigley Field.  His sons and estranged wife both allege he was suffering from dementia prior to his death.  The funeral home which handled his funeral and the cemetery where he was supposed to be buried both state that they have no knowledge about the location of his body.

Three quick points:

1.  A will revised by an individual immediately prior to death which leaves assets to a care giver instead of children is ripe for contesting on the grounds of both lack of mental capacity AND undue influence.  I doubt this will work out in the favor of the care giver.

2.  It is possible that the body of Mr. Banks is located with the head of Ted Williams.

3.  Steve Bartman wishes he could have vanished as effortlessly as the body of Mr. Cub.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Facebook Death Mask

Facebook today announced a change in its policy towards the accounts of deceased users.  It will now allow a user to designate a "legacy contact" to manage the account of a deceased user.  Previously, Facebook froze the account of a deceased user which left the account in a state of virtual purgatory.

What you need to know:

1.  To designate a legacy contact, go to Settings, choose Security, and then Legacy Contact at the bottom of the page.

2.  Stupidly, you may not designate a contingent legacy contact so do not choose someone you travel with frequently or who might kill you in a murder-suicide.

3.  Legacy contacts may not alter what you have previously posted.  If something is embarrassing while alive it will remain embarrassing post mortem.

4.  This might all be for nothing anyway.  How fun will Facebook be if one cannot post a picture of himself with the most hated man in Kentucky?


The Big Messy (Update - Part Trois)

The competency of Tom Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, has been challenged by his family in separate court filings in Texas and New Orleans.  The Texas judge has decreed that Benson needs assistance managing the assets in a Benson family trust.  He appointed two receivers to temporarily replace Benson as trustee.  They are not expected to make dramatic changes to his business holdings.  The New Orleans judge ordered Benson to undergo a psychiatric examination to determine his competency to make the proposed changes to his succession plan.

Three quick points:

1.  This is merely the first round in a likely fifteen round bout.  When billions are at stake, the fight will be long and will not likely be resolved during Mr. Benson's lifetime.

2.  I doubt that a competent and uninfluenced man would move $25 million out of his family owned bank to a competitor and tell his car dealership manager that he is the only person in San Antonio he trusts.

3.  It is a shame that the court appointed receivers do not have authority to hire a new coordinator for the Saints's second worst in the league defense.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Multi-Millionaire Next Door

Ronald Read was a gas station attendant in Vermont who retired after 25 years and then worked as a janitor for J.C. Penney for 17 more years. When he died last year at the age of 92, he left most of his $8 million estate to the local library and hospital.  His step son, whose mother died in 1970 after a brief 10 year marriage to Mr. Read, was unaware of his wealth.   He was renowned for his frugality, which included not paying for parking, wearing clothes held together by safety pins, and gathering free fire wood for his stove.  No one suspected he had any wealth, much less $8 million.

Several quick points:

1.  Assets worth more than $5.43 million are subject to federal estate tax, but bequests to charity are not taxable.  Mr. Read's estate will not be subject to federal estate tax.

2.  Mr. Read's estate will not be subject to Vermont estate tax either because Vermont exempts $2.75 million from estate taxation.

3.  Kudos to his step-son who continued to visit his step-father for 45 years after his mom died after only 10 years of marriage to Mr. Read.

4.  Perhaps we could all accumulate a significant net worth like Mr. Read if we eschewed cell phone and data plans, cable TV packages, and daily Starbucks runs.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"If I Die Young"

When Cory Monteith, of "Glee" fame, died in 2013 he did not leave a will. By law, his $810,000 estate is to be distributed to his divorced parents as his closest living relatives. However, because his father did not pay child support to his mother nor see Cory for almost 20 years, he is prohibited from inheriting from his son, which leaves all of the estate to his mother

Two small points: 

1. When one dies without a will, state law dictates who will receive one's assets. In Ohio, spouses are first in line, followed by children, then parents. 

2. It is unusual for young, single people to have wills, but those with $800K estates and a history of substance abuse should definitely have one.