BlogRead the Latest News

 

Seether

In a story only tangentially related to estate planning, Victoria Salt died when she was 2 days old. Her father, George, visited her grave in Manchester, England semi-annually since 1988. On a recent visit, he learned that her grave was actually in a different part of the cemetery because the marker had been in the wrong place. He said he was gobsmacked by this revelation.

Three points of no significance:

1. This is sad for Mr. Salt who showed incredible love for his daughter.

2. Americans should adopt gobsmacked as part of the vernacular.

3. The grave surrounded by squirrels is Veruca Salt’s.

Photo Credit:  Google Earth images

License:  Fair Use/Education (in linked article)

Piece of Britney (Part 2)

Since her breakdown in 2007 and early 2008, Britney Spears’ finances have been controlled by her co-conservators – her father, Jamie Spears, and attorney, Andrew Wallett. The conservatorship was to assist Britney with managing her financial affairs after she shaved her head, performed poorly at the MTV Video Awards, and locked herself in her bathroom with her young son for 24 hours.

Recent court filings show that Britney earned $56 million last year and spent $385K. Predictably, her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, wants to triple the $20K/month child support he receives from Britney. The one time back up dancer has six kids – two with Britney, two with his first wife, and two with his current wife – but only earns $35K/year. Britney and her co-conservators oppose the increase request. The child support will end in any case when their youngest son turns 18 in 2024.

Several points:

1. If the conservatorship has limited Britney’s spending to $385K, it is clearly working so why end it?

2. $240K should be more than sufficient for K-Fed’s two sons with Britney. He likely needs the extra cash to support his other 4 children.

3. Some of Britney’s favorite stores per the filings are Target, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, Ralph’s, and McDonalds. You can take the girl out of Louisiana but apparently you cannot take Louisiana out of the girl.

Photo Credit:  Reuters/Mario Anzuoni – RC1AEDAB9420

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

iPhoneJD

Jeff Richardson is a New Orleans attorney who writes a blog named iPhoneJD. He posts about matters concerning iPhones (and other iOS devices) and the practice of law. He asked me to write a post about the apps I prefer. Because I have too much free time, I obliged.

His Old School

Peter Knoll was the heir to the Hans Knoll furniture fortune. After his father died when he was 13. Peter dropped out of Columbia University after a few semesters and allegedly never worked a day in his life. Knoll died earlier this year from hypothermia in his $10 million NY townhouse which was without heat since 2014.
 
Described as complicated and eccentric, and suffering from diabetes and melanoma, Knoll left $50K to each of his 3 children who reside in Florida and $100K to each of his grandchildren. He also left various sums to other friends and acquaintances and the bulk of his estate to a boarding school he attended in Vermont in his teens. His son is contesting the will alleging that the boarding school unduly influenced him into leaving most of his estate to it.
 
Three points:
 
1. Complicated and eccentric does not mean mentally incompetent.
 
2. Complicated and eccentric people do complicated and eccentric things such as ignoring their children in favor a boarding school they attended long ago.
 
3. We all know that NY is cold in the winter while Florida is warm, but if the children had visited their dad in the winter and realized he did not have gas in his house, he might have left them more than $50K.
 
Photo Credit:  Handout (from linked article)
License:  Fair Use/Education

Don’t Go Crazy

 

 
In a story unreported, and for good reason, by almost every major news outlet, a woman filed a claim with Prince’s estate claiming to be his daughter. She was adopted in 1975 and has no knowledge of her birth parents, but thinks she might be The Purple One’s daughter because she “possess(es) substantial physical, temperamental and aspirational similarities to Prince” and she is “very artsy and . . . has been described as flamboyant, natural-born star and performer made for the stage.” The woman submitted a photo of herself with purple hair and purple lipstick as proof of her physical resemblance to Prince. The estate is rejecting the claim because it was filed the day after the deadline for making such a claim.
A few points:
1. Prince would have been 16 years old and 1,000 miles from his Minneapolis home at the time the woman was conceived.
2. Even if the woman is Prince’s daughter, she has no rights to his estate because adopted children sever all ties with their biological parents and lose their right to inherit from them. They are entitled to inherit from their adoptive parents.
3. If purple hair and lipstick are enough to allege paternity, Kelly Osbourne should have filed a claim against Prince’s estate.
 
Photo Credit:  TheBlast.com (linked in linked article)
License:  Fair Use/Education

(Not) Gentle On His Mind

After Glen Campbell died last year of Alzheimer’s disease, his fourth wife of 35 years presented a will to the probate court which excluded his 3 children from his second marriage. The will, which was executed in 2006, did provide for his wife and all of his children from his first, third, and fourth marriages. Naturally, his excluded children are contesting his mental capacity to execute the will.

Several brief points:

1. Campbell’s disinherited children will have to prove that Alzheimer’s caused him to forget that they were his children, or to harbor animus to them.

2. Their case will be difficult to prove because the will was executed five years prior to him telling the public that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

3. Their case will be doubly difficult because Campbell’s 2001 will also excluded them.

4. As a general rule, if you want to inherit from your father, do not sue him while he is alive (as they were alleged to have done over publishing rights).

Photo Credit:  Calli Shell for The Tennessean (in linked article)

License:  Fair Use/Education

Will, Trust, and Net Worth Unknown

Reports of the net worth and estate plan of celebrity chef and television host, Anthony Bourdain, are being circulated in various media outlets. The reports state that Bourdain, who was estranged from his wife at the time of his death, left his $1.2 million estate to his 11 year old daughter. His estate supposedly consisted of $450K in bank accounts, $250K of household goods, and $500K of goodwill associated with his name. Other reports state that he had a trust for his daughter and his estranged wife is the trustee of the trust. Also, if his daughter pre-deceased him, his estate was to go to the nanny of his daughter.
Several points:
1. At the time of his suicide, Bourdain was reportedly worth $16 million which is 10X more than the value listed in the probate filings.
2. The value of personal property and celebrity goodwill are often overstated which means that Bourdain might only have been worth $450K at the time of his death, half of which would have gone to his estranged wife after the finalization of their divorce.
3. The trustee of the trust for his daughter was his estranged wife. I never have an estranged or former spouses control the funds for a child because the spouse could use the funds for himself/herself.
4. In spite of trusting his wife with the funds or his daughter, Bourdain must have disliked her immensely if he wanted his money to go to the daughter’s nanny if his daughter was not living.
 
Photo Credit:  Joe Brier for USA Today
License:  Fair Use/Education (in linked article)

She Loved the Dough

Heather Mack is the “Body in a Suitcase” murderer who is serving time in a “notorious” Indonesian prison for killing her mother in 2015 in Bali and stuffing her body in a suitcase. The motive was money. A taxi driver who saw blood dripping from the suitcase notified authorities. Mack was sentenced to 10 years in prison. While in prison, she gave birth to a daughter, Stella, with whom she was pregnant at the time of her conviction.

The trustee of her mother’s trust refused to pay Mack her inheritance due to Illinois’ slayer statute. The trustee and Mack finally agreed that Mack’s daughter, Stella, will receive the $1.6 million instead. Despite her incarceration, Mack has been seen lounging around prison with her boyfriend while also posting photos on social media of herself in restaurants with her boyfriend.

Not much new ground to cover.

1. Slayer statutes prevent a murderer from financially benefitting from her crime.

2. My definition of “notorious” differs from that of others when prison involves having a boyfriend and going out to restaurants with him.

3. 10 years for murdering her mother? The Menendez brothers wish they had committed their crimes in Bali.

Photo Credit:  Instagram/thisischriswhite (from linked article)
License:  Fair Use/Education

Happy Fourth of July

Finally settled in after returning from a week in Portugal. Post to follow shortly.

Suspicious Minds

It has been a slow month for celebrity estate planning news. Lisa Marie Presley is embroiled in a lawsuit with her financial manager claiming he mismanaged her $100 million trust and left her with $14,000. She alleges that the manager sold 85% of her ownership in Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2005 for $100 million but invested most of the proceeds in the company which owned American Idol which filed for bankruptcy in 2016. She is also in the midst of a divorce from her fourth husband who is seeking $263,000 in annual alimony payments. She claims to owe $10 million in back taxes and $6 million in other debts.

Lots to digest.

1. The manager has countersued for $800K for unpaid investment fees. He alleges that Lisa Marie has a spending problem.

2. Allegedly, $20 million of the $100 million sales proceeds were used to pay off debts she had accumulated at the time.

3. Lisa Marie’s mother was concerned enough about her ability as a high school dropout to manage the inheritance that she was able to delay the distribution from Elvis’ trust until she turned 30.

4. Call it a hunch, but I suspect that Lisa Marie’s drug abuse, uncontrolled spending, and four marriages have as much to do with the financial straits as poor fiscal management.

Photo credit:  Unknown

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Long Blue Line

Jack graduated from St. Xavier on Thursday.  He will attend Ohio State’s Fisher School of Business.

Mellon’s Folly and the Infinite Sadness

Matthew Mellon was descended from the famous banking family. He died last month at the age of 54 after ingesting the hallucinogenic ayahuasca before starting rehab. At one time he had a $100K/month oxycontin habit.

When Mellon turned 21, he received a $25 million allowance from a family trust, one of 14 trusts established for him. He recently became a billionaire by investing in cryptocurrency. TMZ is reporting that his estate is now petitioning the probate court to authorize the sale of the cryptocurrency.

So many intersecting points in current events:

1. Someone should never give their child $25 million at the age of 21. Trusts can be created to defer an inheritance for as long as necessary.

2. In probate, assets can usually not be sold or transferred until the entire list of assets has been compiled which can take many months. With the decline in value of crytopcurrency, the estate wants to sell it before people realize its true value is likely zero.

3. Mellon might be the wealthiest victim of our tragic opioid crisis.

4. Following the lynching last month of a Canadian who moved to a Peruvian jungle to seek clarity through ayahuasca but somehow killed a shaman, Mellon is the second person whose newsworthy death can be attributed to it.

5. Ayahuasca is described as a sludgelike hallucinogenic potion used by indigenous shamans in spiritual exercises. I will take my drink inspired spiritual experiences through a nice fruit forward cabernet.

Photo Credit:  Forbes/Ethan Pines

License:  Fair Use/Education (linked article)

Make It Rain

Micky Liu is described as an HBO IT exec. When he died in 2015, he left his life insurance proceeds, and 401(k) plan balance and other retirement benefits to Veronica Beckham, a stripper he had met 9 months earlier. His sister contested the $223K left to Beckham alleging that Beckham (no relation to David) had seduced Liu. A court ruled against the sister on the grounds that the only person who could contest the beneficiary designation was Liu’s prior beneficiary, an ex-girlfriend.
 
A few minor points:
 
1. The court made the correct ruling because Liu had no presumption of leaving the benefits to his sister or any other family member.
 
2. Undue influence is more difficult to prove in a non-will matter than a will contest.
 
3. As a rule of thumb, women who hang with Snoop Dogg are not usually romantically interested in IT guys.  
 
4. $223K total benefits (including presumably 1X salary in life insurance)? The term “exec” has become as watered down as the term “porn star.”
 
Photo Credit:  Instagram
License:  Fair Use/Education

One Down One to Go

 

 

Blair (aka Princess) graduated yesterday from Indiana University’s business school. She will start working in Chicago at the end of the month.

He Would Die 4 U

It has been two years since Prince died of fentanyl poisoning. Because he did not leave a will instructing how to administer his estate (remember he thought was going to live until he was 1999), a bank has been appointed as executor of his estate while his siblings and half siblings will be the beneficiaries.
Several points:
1. If Prince wanted to control his legacy he should have executed a will. Even people with no sense of mortality need to provide for their demise.
2. It is easy for friends who have no financial stake in Prince’s estate to complain about the revenues being generated by not respecting his legacy.
3. Justin Timberlake needed all the help possible for his Super Bowl performance.
4. Pains me to say this as a huge Prince fan, but Nothing Compares 2 Sinead’s version of the song.
 
 
Photo Credit:  Michael S. Williamson/Washington Post
License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

What Is It With Sacramento?

Rosalie Achiu is a recently widowed Sacramento woman. Her neighbors described her as suffering from dementia. Shortly after she called the Sacramento sheriff for assistance in January, one of the responding deputies obtained her power of attorney, drilled a safe deposit box, moved her out of her house, and placed her on a plane to the Phillippines ostensibly to visit relatives there. The deputy claims that she did all of this at the behest of the woman. The deputy is now under investigation by her department.
A few points:
1. Color me skeptical that a woman would instantly give financial control of her assets to a law enforcement officer she recently met and that the officer would accept such power for benevolent purposes when social services and the probate court could assist the woman.
2. Mrs. Achiu should have executed a power of attorney prior to her husband’s death, or shortly thereafter, designating a trusted friend or relative as her attorney in fact for both financial and medical decisions.
3. In true 2018 fashion, the deputy claims that she is being investigated because she filed a harassment claim against her now current supervisor in 2007. This does not explain why her partner is also being investigated.
 
 
Photo Credit:  Unknown (AP?)
License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

The Morning Line

I subbed for Paul Daugherty’s TML blog in the Cincinnati Enquirer again yesterday. I discussed the Reds new manager, the FC Cincinnati MLS bid, and our day in Cuba among other topics.

I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

Photo Credit:  Sam Greene for Cincinnati Enquirer

License:  Photo used in the Enquirer written by me for the Enquirer

 

#MeToo (#SheWasFirst)

William Agee was a boy wonder corporate exec in the late 70’s and early 80’s when he helmed Bendix Corporation. Mary Cunningham was a Harvard MBA grad voted most likely to be CEO of a non-cosmetics company. She spurned job offers on Wall Street to work for Bendix as Agee’s personal assistant before being promoted to Vice President. They eventually divorced their spouses and married each other while ignoring rumors that Cunningham had “slept her way to the top.”

After Agee’s several failed business deals reportedly undertaken under Cunningham’s advice, Cunningham became known as the Yoko Ono of finance. They settled in Napa Valley where Cunningham acquired the moniker of “Tomato Lady” for growing special tomatoes.

Six weeks before he died, Agee, reportedly suffering from dementia, changed his will to leave half his assets to his children from whom he had been estranged for 35 years. He also filed for divorce from Cunningham and named his daughter as his health care power of attorney. His last communication with his wife was via Face Time from Seattle. Cunningham is challenging the will although it does not matter because most of his assets were in his trust which was unchanged before his death.

A few points:

1. A will change six weeks before death to benefit children who have been estranged for 35 years will always generate questions of competency..

2. If Agee changed his will prior to his death, he should have also changed his trust if his assets were titled in the name of the trust.

3. Yoko Ono of finance? Tomato Lady? Music fans could only wish that Yoko Ono had grown tomatoes instead of creating unlistenable music and breaking up the Beatles.

Photo Credit:  Mary Moritz for the New York Times

License:  Fair Use/Education

Back From Spring Break

Quick Caribbean cruise with Jack and 3 St. Xavier classmates including a day in Cuba. Post soon.  

Till I Get to the Bottom and See You Again

In news of no importance, a California court ruled that the body of infamous mass murderer, Charles Manson, should be given to his grandson. The claims of a man claiming to be the son of Manson via an orgy and someone who was Manson’s pen pal were denied. The question of who will inherit Manson’s estate is still to be determined.

A few points:

 1. The body was released to Manson’s closest living relative as it should have been.
 2. The competition for the body of a man who personified “evil” is odd.
 3. The battle for the body is a prelude for a battle for his estate although after 47 years in prison the estate likely consists of a blanket, toothbrush, razor, and a few dollars for working in the prison laundry.
 
Photo Credit:  California Dept. of Corrections
License:  Fair Use/Education

Contact Me

All Posts By Jay Brinker

I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.