Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Will In the Cupboard

Melissa Mathison, who died last month at the age of 65, was renowned for being the screenwriter of E.T. and The Black Stallion.  She had also been married to Harrison Ford from 1983  until 2004.  She left an estate worth $22 million, most of which is in trust.  However, her original will cannot be located.

Several very quick points because this is the holiday season after all:

1.  A copy of a lost will can be admitted to probate in Ohio if there is proof it was validly executed and that it was not revoked.

2.  I offer to retain original wills for my clients so they cannot be accidentally misplaced.

3.  Mathison's family might wish to search for the will among the presumably multitude of rejected drafts of The Indian in the Cupboard while she tried to make it into an enjoyable movie.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Are Not All Former Spouses Bums?

After divorcing her husband of 10 years in 2014, Diane Wagner agreed to pay him $186/week in spousal support. When writing the checks to him, she has used the memo section to write “alimony/adult child support,” “bum,” “loser,” and “FOAD.” Her 61 year old ex-husband recently sued her on the grounds that her notations are causing him emotional distress and caused him to suffer a heart attack.

Several quick points:

1. Whenever a couple marries later in life, they should have a pre-nuptial agreement which would allow them to waive spousal support/alimony upon divorce.

2. I suspect that despite most media coverage about the notations on the check, the real source of the lawsuit is the $5,000 the husband’s bank accidentally deposited into a joint account which she quickly withdrew and refused to return.

3. I sheepishly admit I had to use Urban Dictionary to look up FOAD.

4. One person’s spunky fighter for freedom of speech is another man’s crazy ex-wife.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Jihad Estate Planning

The six month old baby orphaned when her terrorist parents killed 14 people in San Bernardino is at the center of a custody dispute.  Saira Khan, the sister of the slain terrorist, has asked for custody of the girl. Experts are predicting that family members will not get custody of the baby because county officials will not recommend custody for family members if they are shown to have have had knowledge of the attacks. The mother of Syed Rizwan Farook lived with him, but claims to have no knowledge of the attacks despite the numerous bombs and large amounts of ammunition in the shared house.  She also received $15,000 in bank deposits from her son just prior to his death.  Terrorists are known to drain their bank accounts prior to suicide attacks.  The funds she received were from a loan her son received from a peer to peer lender several weeks before he murdered his co-workers.

So many issues, but let's focus on the main ones:

1.  Sharia Law requires that the baby be raised by a Muslim.  Thankfully, Sharia Law does not govern matters in the United States. 

2.  An individual designated as guardian in the will would receive consideration from the Family Court to have custody of the daughter barring intervening circumstance such as knowledge, of or complicity with, mass murder.

3.  The $28,500 debt taken out prior to the attacks will die with the attackers if there are no other assets from which to re-pay the loan.  

4.  It is somewhat ironic that the murderers transferred their financial assets prior to their suicide mission but did not prepare a will.  I guess that the Terrorist Handbook does not contemplate a young couple with a baby working together to kill innocent people.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

2 Broke Girls? Pt. 2

At the risk of turning this into People Magazine, a quick corollary post to the most recent post on nonagenarian Sumner Redstone and his mental capacity and estate planning.  Sydney Holland is Redstone's 44 year old former live in girl friend who was mentioned in the Vanity Fair article about him.  She is a composite of LA stereotypes - movie producer, real estate flipper, founder of an eco-conscious line of yoga clothing, and president of her own small foundation.  While living with Redstone, she was also involved with a man her own age, George Pilgrim, who had served two years in prison for income invasion.  He lived with his parents in Sedona after being released from prison.  He and Holland would fly between LA and Sedona on private jets.  Pilgrim had been unaware of Holland's relationship with Redstone prior to the Vanity Fair article. When Redstone became aware of Holland's relationship with Pilgrim, he immediately excommunicated her from his house and life.  She and her bodyguards now hang out at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills.  Pilgrim was the subject of a Vanity Fair update in which his emotions ranged from anger and perplexed road kill to wistfulness.

Points?  Between billionaires, private jets, prison time, Beverly Hills hotels, and body guards, there is little here that applies to most people except "don't act like people in LA."