Sunday, December 22, 2013

Rick Dees' Family Would Not Act This Way

The family of long time American Top 40 host, Casey Kasem, settled their dispute over his health care on Friday.  The children from his first marriage had requested a conservatorship because they alleged that their step-mother was not permitting them to see him.  A court appointed doctor had opined that Kasem, who is bed ridden and hospitalized with Parkinson's disease, would want to see his children.   Details of the settlement are undisclosed.  

Several points:

1.  These types of disputes are fairly common with second marriages and children from a prior marriage.  They are also common among siblings when one child lives out of town.

2.  To reduce the risk of conflict, an individual should execute a durable power of attorney for health care and a financial power of attorney.   Further, the attorney in fact under both documents should communicate with other family members.
3.  Because terms of the settlement are undisclosed, it remains unknown if the Kasem children are permitted to visit their father, or if they have to send him long distance dedications.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Love Means Never Having to Fight Over a Portrait

After Nick Saban declined the University of Texas  football job, the bad week for UT continued when a jury determined that a painting of Farrah Fawcett by Andy Warhol belonged to Ryan O'Neal and was not part of her art collection that she left to the university.  She left none of her estate to long time lover O'Neal which forced him to fight for the ownership of the painting which is estimated to be worth between $1 million and $12 million.  

Several points:

1.  Marriage can provide legal protection.  If Ryan and Farrah had married, he would have been entitled to one-third of her estate as a matter of law and could have skipped the drama over the painting.

2.  When one's former girlfriend/lover/companion leaves $100K to a college boyfriend and nothing to you, perhaps your relationship is not comparable to the idyllic "Love Story."  Love means never having to fight over a portrait of the deceased.

3.  A photograph with painted eyes and lipstick is worth seven figures?     

Monday, December 16, 2013

Who Wants to Make (or Receive) This Phone Call?

From today's Dear Prudence column on Slate:

Q. Death Around the Holidays: A man I work with and with whom I've had an affair the last two months died suddenly over the weekend. I am pregnant with his child. He didn't know. His current wife, now widow, doesn't either. How do I broach this subject? His estate is rather large.

A: I'd say I'm sorry for your loss, but since apparently you aren't, I won't bother. For your financial interests, contact a lawyer specializing in family law. I don't have any advice on where you go to get help for your lack of morals—or heart.

Several points:

1.  If the man left all of his assets to his wife, I do not think that there will be much available for the child other than Social Security because the widow is not obligated to leave assets to the child.

2.  If the man did not have a will, in Ohio the child would essentially share in 2/3 of the probate assets with the other children.

3.  If  the man left assets in a trust for his wife and children, which ultimately are to be distributed to his children, the child from the affair will likely inherit the same share as his other children because children are usually defined generically in wills and trusts not as "children from my relationship with my wife."

4.  I doubt Ann Landers and Dear Abby would have answered as tersely as Prudie did.

5.  Giving the woman the benefit of the doubt, which Prudie did not, the writer might have adapted her writing style to the 21st century blog post/Internet style and left out all perceived unnecessary adjectives (and emotion).  Or, she could be a Hemingway fan.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela

I remember this incredible Nightline closing clip featuring Tracy Chapman's "Freedom Now" from the week Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. 

Bonus music video - "Free Nelson Mandela" by Special AKA.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It's All About Francesca

Julie Harris, the 5 time Emmy Award winning actress, died in August.  Her will named a minor soap opera actress, Francesca Rubino, as the co-executor of her estate.  Her will also contained a codicil stating that if her son, who lived on her property and who is to receive the bulk of his estate, threatened to harm the co-executor, he would be disinherited.  The son was unable to see his mother the last 3 years of her life.  Friends of Ms. Harris claim that Ms. Rubino wormed her way into Ms. Harris' life and fired all of her long time employees including the gardener, housekeeper, and attorney. The new attorney, who presumably would earn $100,000 as co-executor, maintains that they are merely disgruntled former employees.

Several points:

1.  Wills can generally be challenged on the grounds of lack of mental capacity or undue influence.  An indicia of undue influence is where a non-relative receives money to the exclusion of children or one child receives a disproportionate amount.

2.  The son has standing to contest the validity of the will, but if he still receives most of the estate and the only issue is who will serve as executor, he might not be inclined to contest the will and lose money in legal fees.

3.  I have never seen a codicil threatening to disinherit someone, much less a child, for threatening anyone.  Codicils usually change the amounts to be received by a beneficiary.

4.  Who can blame the son for making a threatening gesture to someone described as "very alluring but very manipulative" and "who had a saintly look that was overboard"?