Thursday, February 14, 2019

Trouble Don't Set Up Like Rain
Marcelle Harrison’s mother and step-father, both of whom were Barbadian immigrants, purchased a house in Boston in 1970 for $23K. Her mom died in 2009. Her step-father died without a will two years later.
Now, Harrison and her multi-generation family are being forced to leave the $1 million home because they are not the legal owners. Because her step-father died without a will, his closest living relatives, nieces and nephews who live in Barbados, will inherit his estate. A state representative who lives across the street said “It shocks the conscience to think that this low-income, Barbadian family could be displaced, really out of the blue.”
A few points, some of which I have made before:
1. The legal outcome is correct - under the statute of intestate succession, which applies when there is no will, Harrison has no claim on her step-father’s estate no matter how long he was married to her mother.
2. Thoughtful estate planning is important for everyone, but even more so for second marriages and blended families.
3. The local politician might find this outcome shocking, but I am not shocked that a Massachusetts politician would use identity politics to describe the problem while being ignorant of the law.



Photo Credit:  Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe
License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Feeling Low Cotton

Gerald Cotten ran QuadrigaCX, one of Canada’s largest crytopcurrency exchange companies.  Last month, the company announced that 30 year old Mr. Cotten died in early December of complications from Crohn’s Disease while building orphanages in India.  The company also announced that $140 million of cryptocurrency was unavailable because all of the currency was stored on a laptop that only he had access to and no one knew the password.   There is concern that the cryptocurrency will be locked on the laptop forever.  However, digital forensic experts have questioned whether the currency is actually on the laptop and whether it was moved previously.

One planning point, one investment point, and a lot of shade.

1. This is a classic instance of making sure that your heirs can access your digital accounts after your death.  I advise my clients to write down their passwords to prevent heirs from being locked out after death.

2. Cryptocurrency investments can be dangerous enough without trusting them to a twenty-something operating on a laptop out of his house in Nova Scotia.

3. Not to be a conspiracist, but I do question the legitimacy of reports of a young man dying of Crohn’s disease (mortality rate of 1%) while overseas doing charity work with the death reported a month later, and $140 million possibly missing and not simply locked on a computer.  Feel free to call me a cynic, though.


Photo Credit:  Benoit Tessier/Reuters
License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)