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Best Coast?

Just back from a long weekend in Seattle and Oregon with Janice. We met winemaker, Jean-Nicolas Meo, and Jay Boberg, owners of Domaine Nicolas-Jay. Boberg is the founder of IRS Records (think REM, Fine Young Cannibals, and the Go-Gos among other acts on his label). Wine and music are geek heaven for me. Post to follow shortly.

Fake News

CNN news anchor, Anderson Cooper, is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt who died last month at the age of 95. She in turn was the great-great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. She left all of her estate to Cooper save for her $1.2 million Manhattan co-op which she left to her son, Stan Stokowski.

Gloria Vanderbilt inherited a trust fund worth $35 million in today’s dollars when she turned 21. She also rode the wave of the designer jeans trend in the late 1970’s with her eponymous fashion which was worth $100 million at one time. Initial reports soon after her death speculated that she was worth $200 million. Probate Court filings have since revealed that she only owned her co-op and $1.5 million.

Several points, none too shocking:

1. The data about her net worth would be private if Vanderbilt had used a funded trust for her estate planning.

2. Rare is the fortune that lasts five generations before it is dissipated.

3. Four divorces, dedication to philanthropy, advisors who embezzle, and living into one’s 90s deplete one’s assets.

4. An incredibly gifted plastic surgeon will also deplete assets.

 

Photo Credit:  Unknown

License:  Fair Use/Education

The Morning Line

I wrote Paul Daugherty’s TML Blog again on Friday. I did a mid-year review of the sports world. I hope you like it.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:  Kareem Elgazzar for Cincinnati Enquirer

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Number One With a Bullett

Picking up the Casey Kasem saga five years after his death.  When we last left the beloved host of American Top 40 and the voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo, his second wife had sent his body to Norway for burial ostensibly because “Norway symbolizes peace and looks like heaven.”  She had previously claimed to have buried him there because she had ancestral ties to Norway.  

Why is this still in the news?  Kasem’s daughter, Kerri, is trying to exhume his body and return it to LA for burial.  Last year, his widow claimed that a private investigator proved that his children had caused his death.  After the police cleared them, his daughter now maintains that the widow abused him prior to his death.  His daughter has created a foundation to pass legislation in multiple states to stop elder abuse.

Planning points?  None.  Observations?  I will keep them brief.

1.  The disharmony between daughters and their step-moms is boundless.  Perhaps Kasem’s daughter could join forces with Tom Petty’s daughter to create a large foundation to vent their hatred towards their fathers’ second wives under the guise of something.

2.  The widow and daughter should stop pointing fingers at each other and realize that an 82 year old man long suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and Body Lewy Dementia had a short life expectancy and likely died of natural causes.  Per Howard Jones, no one is to blame.

3.  Related to the prior point, but with a more contemporary musical reference, both the daughter and widow should heed the advice in a Top 5 song the year of Kasem’s death and “Let It Go.”

Hat tip:  Debbe Levin for forwarding a podcast about this.

 

 

Photo Credit:  Jean Kasem

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Pirate (and Scoundrel) By Any Other Name

There has been a dearth of newsworthy estate planning news recently, save the step-kids hate step-mom variety, so the Hugh Culverhouse Jr. and Alabama Law School imbroglio sent me down a rabbit hole which I am prone to.  For reference sake, Culverhouse, Jr. pledged $26 million last year to the University of Alabama Law School if they named it in his honor.  The law school returned the entire sum last week after Culverhouse, Jr. encouraged a boycott of the state of Alabama due to its recent anti-abortion legislation.  We are not here to discuss that.

Culverhouse, Jr. is the son of the first owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  He, his sister, and his mother were estranged from his father at the time of his father’s death in 1994.   Culverhouse, Sr. was notorious for operating his NFL team to maximize the profits while not caring how they fared on the field, which was usually abysmally.  Prior to his death, he told his wife that he was on the verge of bankruptcy and convinced her to sign a post-nuptial agreement which promised her $5 million, a $2 million condo, and her jewelry worth $2 million. After his death, the Bucs were sold for a then record $192 million while Culverhouse’s estate was estimated to be worth $340 million.   His widow filed multiple lawsuits regarding the post-nuptial agreement and the administration of his estate. She eventually settled for $34 million plus the right to control the donation of $10 million to various charities. 

Whew.  So much to unpack, but let’s be brief.

1.  Post-nuptial agreements are not valid in Ohio because Ohio prohibits spouses from contracting with each other.  Ohio’s position is a minority one

2.  Even with the settlement, Mrs. Culverhouse sold herself short settling for a fraction of her husband’s net worth.

3.  Sadly for Bengals fans, Mike Brown adopted the Culverhouse play book of ineptly running a football franchise but maximizing profit. 

 

Photo credit:  St. Petersburg Times

License:  Fair Use/Education

Sister Is Doing It For Herself

When Aretha Franklin died last August, she was reported to have died without a will.  The administration of her estate proceeded accordingly.  This week her lawyer of 40 years said that her family had found three handwritten wills, two from 2010 and one from 2014, in her house.  The 2010 wills were in a locked cabinet while the 2014 will was in a spiral notebook under a couch cushion.  The wills look like gibberish at first glance.  A court will determine their validity in June.

Several points:

1.  Michigan law provides that wills should be signed in the presence of two witnesses (same as Ohio).

2.  Michigan allows for holographic (i.e. handwritten) wills if it is certain the writing is intended to be the person’s will and it is dated. 

3.  Writing in a spiral notebook under a couch cushion rarely looks to be the final thoughts regarding the disposition of one’s assets even if dated.

4.  If someone has millions of dollars and millions more in expected music royalties, she should pay a lawyer to prepare a properly drafted will and trust and let the attorney keep it so there is no posthumous doubt about her wishes.  Get it right.

 

Photo Credit:  Mary Altaffer for AP

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

 

The Longshot

Comedian Tim Conway died today. He started his career on “McHale’s Navy” and was best known for his role on “The Carol Burnett Show.” During the last year of his life, his daughter from his first marriage squabbled with his second wife of 35 years over his medical care. The daughter sought to be appointed conservator (i.e. guardian) of him even though Conway had executed a health care power of attorney designating his wife as his health care decision maker. The daughter’s petition was denied and eventually the wife was designated as the conservator. The daughter said she would continue to be an advocate for children seeking visitation denied by a step-parent.

Several somewhat redundant points:

1. Because Conway had executed a financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney in favor of his wife, a conservatorship was unnecessary because those documents determined his wishes.

2. It is bananas that animosity between a child and step-mother does not subside after 35 years of marriage.

3. The daughter’s declaration of victory and promise of advocacy after having no legal basis for her position and then being thwarted by the court is Trumpian.

Photo Credit:  Fox News video

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Stinky Cheese Man

Eugene Brown died at the age of 93 in Corning ,California. His body was discovered after the mail carrier reported that he was not sitting outside waiting for her for five consecutive days. He was survived by three nephews and a niece, but was in contact with none of them.
 
He owned a house purchased in the 1970’s, a car purchased in the 1980’s with only 74,000 miles on it, and $2.7 million. He did not have a bed and only had two slices of wrapped cheese singles in his fridge at the time of his death. Besides the mailman, the only person who he spoke with regularly was his investment manager. Because he did not have a will, his nephews and niece inherited his estate even though some of them had not seen him in 50 years and some thought he had died years ago.
 
Several repetitive points:
 
1. Without a will, state law determines who inherits an estate. The result is the closest living relative(s).
 
2. 56% of Americans do not have a will.
 
3. Mr. Brown did not have any friends, but was a somewhat devout Catholic. He could have left his estate to any number of Catholic organizations.
 
4. Rather than saving his money so that his distant relatives could inherit it, Mr. Brown would have been better off spending at least some of the money on a bed, a more modern vehicle, unprocessed cheese, and attorney fees to prepare a will.
 
Photo Credit:  Tehama County Public Guardian
License:  Fair Use/Education (in linked article)

The Morning Line Again

 
I subbed for Paul Daugherty’s The Morning Line blog again today. I did a deep dive on the change in basketball coaches at UC. I hope you enjoy it.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo Credit:  Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer
License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article) 

Don’t Do Me Like That

When Tom Petty died of a drug overdose 18 months ago, he was survived by his second wife, Dana York, and his two daughters from his first marriage, Adria and Annakim. Petty created a trust to administer and distribute his assets. He named his widow as the trustee. He also directed that his music rights and royalties be transferred to a company to be managed equally by his widow and daughters.

His wife believes “equally” means a 50/50 split of management while the daughters contend that “equally” means they each get a vote for 2/3 control. The eldest daughter has opposed a 25th anniversary release of Petty’s last good album, Wildflowers, and has flamed various members of his band and the City of Gainesville. His widow has petitioned the LA probate court to appoint a day to day manager of the estate and requested that Adria act respectably.

Several quick points:

1. No matter how much planning a person does, there is no guarantee that his heirs will behave after his death.

2. Second marriages are always ripe for irrational emotional reactions after a death.

3. The estate planning attorney likely wishes he had defined “equally” in the trust.

4. A bank trustee can sometimes diffuse some of a beneficiary’s distrust, but not always. And usually not with someone as ill tempered as Adria.

5. In the streaming music era, the expected windfall from the re-release of Wildflowers is illusory. No one under 50 buys CDs.

Photo Credit:  NY Post? – vidcap

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

One Hall of Famer, One Grandfather, One Grandson, and 47 Years

When my grandfather tended bar for the owners of the Cincinnati Reds in their luxury suite in the 1970’s, he had his picture taken with Johnny Bench. Today, I met Johnny Bench in the Dinsmore box and recreated the photo. Thanks to Brian Sullivan and George Vincent of Dinsmore. And special thanks to the greatest catcher of all time.

 

Dial Down The Pressure

This is a terribly sad story. Kelly Catlin, a 23 year old who won an Olympic silver medal as a cyclist in 2016, killed herself last weekend in her dorm at Stanford. She was working on her masters in Computational Mathematics after majoring in Biomedical Engineering and Chinese at the University of Minnesota. Kelly suffered a concussion in January from a bike crash. She previously had tried to commit suicide in January but police found her in time. In the week before her death she wrote about balancing time and taking time for oneself in Velonews.
 
As the father of a 23 year old daughter, the father of a son who suffered a concussion two years ago while competing in cross country, and as a recreational cyclist, Kelly’s death hits particularly close. I have three quick points:
 
1. Take concussions seriously. Give the brain all the time it needs to heal. It might be a long time but that is relative.
 
2. Help your children manage internal pressure (although it seems Kelly put incredible pressure on herself to succeed) and relieve it as much as possible.  In the long run, the source of perceived pressure is likely not that important.
 
3. Hug your children tonight and tell them you love them.
 
Photo Credit:  Wil Matthews
License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article).

TML Again

Bit late with this, but I guest wrote Paul Daugherty’s The Morning Line blog for the Cincinnati Enquirer on Friday. I covered the debut of FC Cincinnati while being complimentary to Mick Cronin. I also recapped our February in Phoenix. I hope you enjoy it.

21st Century King Lear

© PatrickMcMullan
Photo – Owen Hoffmann License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Herbert Neumann is the trustee of trust which owns 60 works of art worth an estimated $50 million. The most valuable piece is “Untitled (Tyranny)” by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The trust was created by Neumann’s brother for the benefit of Neumann’s 3 daughters. Now, one of the daughters, Belinda Neumann-Donnelly, is suing her father in his capacity as trustee to sell all of the artworks. She claims that the art will be impossible to divide equitably and that she needs funds for her family’s “significant housing, litigation, and education expenses.”

The same daughter has another lawsuit, presumably the source of the significant litigation expenses, against her father involving the sale of another Basquiat painting, “Flesh and Spirit,” formerly owned by her mother who died in 2016 that sold for $30.7 million last year. She claims that her father’s threat to contest the sale of the painting depressed the sales price. Oddly, she lives in the same two family building in NY as her father.
Several points:
1. The lawsuit to sell the paintings owned by the trust is likely premature because the trust likely provides that it will distribute its assets upon the death of Neumann.
2. Neumann’s wife, who owned the painting sold for $30.7 million, disinherited him from her will alleging he abused her. I am surprised that he did not elect against the will which would entitle him to 1/3 of his wife’s estate including part of the painting sales proceeds.
3. If Neumann’s wife gave the painting to the daughter before she died, as some articles insinuate, the wife would have been required to file a gift tax return and pay gift tax on nearly $25 million and the daughter would have to pay capital gain tax on almost the entire sales amount (Mrs. Neumann only paid $15K for the painting).
4. The emperor truly has no clothes because Basquiat paintings look like the drawings of a bored high school student on the back of his spiral notebook.

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)

This Keeps Me Employed

Comic License:  Nick Galifianakis/Washington Post

License:  Fair Use/Education

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)

Scourge of Our Times

Newtown police chief, Tom Synan, was featured in a video on USA Today’s sitea about his work on the front line combating opioid addiction and treating it as an illness and not as a crime. I am honored to call him a friend.

 

 

 

Photo credit:  USA Today (actually it is a video)

License:  Fair Use/Education (from the linked article)

Identity Theft?

Jeanne Calment has been considered the world’s longest lived person since she died at the age of 122 in 1997. She allegedly smoked until she could not light a cigarette without assistance. Recently, a Russian gerontologist and a Russian mathematician have questioned her longevity and floated the theory that Calment stole her mother’s identity for the purposed of avoiding French inheritance taxes in the 1930’s. Their theory is that she did not look or act that old. The result is that Calment was only 99 when she died.

Only three points:

1. I always enjoyed the part of Calment’s bio where she sold her apartment when she was 90 to a man who agreed to pay her a monthly sum until she died. She outlived him by two years so he wound up paying 2X for the real estate.

2. Like many points of French governance, the estate tax laws are complicated. Nonetheless, the tax rates are not so confiscatory that compliance merits identity theft as a means of avoidance.

3. Is there any type of disinformation campaign that Russians will not engage in?

Photo Credit:  Reuters

License:  Fair Use/Education

Happy New Year (Belated)

Best wishes for the new year. And no, Jack is not taller than me. 😊

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.