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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

We Rebelled Against Monarchy for a Reason

Times are slow in the estate planning news area. I have been awaiting the resolution of a court hearing in Hawaii about the estate of their last living “Princess” for the past month. Alas, nothing has been reported.

Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa is considered the last living Hawaiian princess. Her great-aunt was the last Queen of Hawaii. Her great-grandfather was a pineapple magnate who left her a fortune. The 91 year old survived a stroke last summer. Her long time attorney was granted control of her $250 million estate. Her long time 64 year old girl friend married her last Fall after initially breaking up with her because she wanted more than the $700K annual allowance she was receiving.

A few points of some pithiness:

1. Planning wise, Abigail should have had a financial power of attorney designating someone to handle her finances if she were incapacitated.

2. She also should have a medical power of attorney allowing someone to assist her with her medical decisions when necessary.

3. Hawaiians revere their royalty no matter how tenuously connected to the throne from 125 years ago.

4. Some (including me) might call a woman who marries an incapacitated wealthy woman 27 years older than her an opportunist rather than a wife.

Photo Credit:  AP

License:  Fair Use/Eduction

Give It Up or Turnit Loose

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, died in 2006. His estate is still unsettled due to myriad lawsuits. He had intended to leave $2 million for scholarships for his grandchildren, memorabilia to his children, and the rest to a charity for scholarships for children from SC and Georgia.

Lawsuits have involved whether a woman should have been trustee, whether people should have been removed as trustee, the paternity of a son, and the validity of Brown’s marriage (his wife reportedly was married at the time of their marriage) plus the run of the mill will contest suits. The most recent suit involves whether his wife could sell the rights to his songs.

Two points:

1. There are no good lessons here. If heirs want to fight, they will find reasons to fight and no planning can prevent that.

2. I always preferred the music of Brown’s contemporaries, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, both who died tragically young. One benefit of dying young is that there is no large estate to fight over nor large family to fight.

 

Photo Credit:  Michael Holahan/Augusta Chronicle, via Associated Press and linked NYT article
License:  Fair Use/Education

Return

Back from a father/son ski trip and somewhat back from the February blahs. New post to follow soon.

Not All Tattoos Are Pointless

When an unconscious Florida man was brought to a hospital without identification but a tattoo that said “Do Not Resuscitate” and a signature, doctors were surprisingly faced with what to do with the dying man. They first thought they should disregard the tattoo because it might not reflect his current wishes because he might have gotten it when drunk. An ethicist later over-ruled the doctors and said that his tattooed wishes must be respected.The man eventually died. An NYU ethicist quoted in the article said that people should carry their health care directives with them to prevent these problems.
 
Several points:
 
1. Sad that the hospital was at first going to ignore something as obvious as the man’s tattooed wishes. Even if he were drunk when he obtained the tattoo, he could have remembered to remove it any time whenever he saw himself and the tattoo in a mirror.
 
2. I have scans of all my clients’ documents and have occasionally been asked to send them to a hospital while I have been out of town. The cloud can be a tremendous tool.
 
3. Carrying one’s health care directives in case of emergency seems like an extreme command by the ethicist especially in the case of homeless folks who are simply trying to push a cart with their blankets and clothes and looking for food. Neatly preserved health care directives would seem to be low on the priority list.
 
4. Moving beyond homeless folks, asking folks to carry their health care directives while they run to CVS or Sam’s Club seems burdensome. This is further proof that the academic world is not the real world.

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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.