Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Debtor, Not a Son

Slow times in the newsworthy estates area.  Going back a few months, Andrew Getty was the 47 year old grandson of J. Paul Getty who died of a meth overdose last year.  His father, Gordon Getty, filed a claim against his son's estate for repayment of $14 million that he allegedly loaned him.  Gordon Getty is also seeking the return of 55 pieces of art valued at $1 million.  The younger Getty's Hollywood Hills house was listed for sale this week at $8 million.

Several quick points:
  1. Creditors of a decedent have to file a claim against the estate if they want to secure payment for a debt.  In Ohio, the claim must be filed within six months of the date of death.
  2. Based on the amount of the claim filed by Gordon Getty, it is obvious that he financed his son's life.
  3. Andrew is the second Getty grandchild to die a drug related death.  An incentive trust might have helped them manage their finances.
  4. It should be no surprise that Gordon Getty is seeking money from his son's estate.  His father charged a son interest on the ransom he paid for the release of a kidnapped grandson.  Apples do not fall far from the tree. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Apple, Jihadi Encryption, and Privacy

Back again to Apple and access to a dead person's iPhone.  A federal court magistrate yesterday ordered Apple to create software to access the work iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists.  The government wants access to the iPhone so they know who the terrorist was calling and texting.  Apple's Tim Cook  has said it will oppose the order.

Many points and additional facts:

1.  With iOs 8, an iPhone is fully encrypted and Apple is no longer able to access the contents of the phone without the lock screen pass code.

2.  The terrorist set up his phone to wipe itself clean (that is without a cloth, Hillary) after 10 unsuccessful tries.

3.  The terrorist destroyed his and his wife's personal iPhones and removed his computer hard drive before massacring his co-workers.  It is unlikely that there is anything valuable on the work iPhone.

4.  The presiding magistrate in this matter is a former prosecutor so she would be inclined to grant the wish of law enforcement.

5.  Apple is concerned that it could always be ordered to provide software to access someone's iPhone, no matter how trivial the matter.

6.  How many world problems could be solved if magistrates simply ordered tech companies to develop software that the magistrate deemed necessary, regardless of whether the software is technologically feasible or not?

7.  It is ironic that the government is relying on a 225 year old law (older by a few years than Bernie Sanders) named the All Writs Act of 1789 to deal with a 21st century encrypted computer.

8.  Apparently the NSA is not collecting as much data about us as we fear if the government needs to see the phone to see who the terrorist was calling and texting.  Or perhaps the FBI has simply not contacted the NSA yet.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ella Mason Was the Reasonable One

When she died in 2003, a Maine woman left almost of all of her $200,000 estate for the care of the unwanted and abandoned cats in her hometown.  Her two page will appointed trustees to administer the funds but did not specify who should actually receive the funds.  Now, two women who run makes shift cat shelters have sued the trustees and the attorney who drafted the will.    The two women spend nearly all of their disposable income to provide for the cats.  One of the women has not visited family for 2 years because she is afraid to burden the other woman with all of the cat care in her absence.

Several points:

1.  Obviously, the trust is lacking in specifics about how the funds should be spent and should have included direct beneficiaries.

2.  Any two page will is lacking in many specifics without even incorporating a trust into it.

3.  The attorney should be dismissed from the lawsuit.  His legal duty was only to his client - he did not owe any legal duty to the people suing the trust.

4.  Need I point out that stories involving multiple cats never include a male?