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Piece of Britney

britney cd6b98d5df2bfe13a293ba02d6aa0a42When Britney Spears had her breakdown in 2008 (think shaved head and window smashing), her father and attorney became her conservators. In Ohio, they would be known as guardians. They manage both her physical well being and her finances. As such, they make sure she takes her medicine for her unspecified illness as well as manage her career.
 
In recent years, Britney, who has been described as shy has not testified at hearings about continuing the conservatorship. She reportedly is only interested in seeing her sons. Her father receives 1.5% of the $17.5 million annual revenues from her Planet Hollywood shows and the same cut from the merch sales. Her court appointed attorney has received $2 million in fees since 2008 and the other conservators have received $6.7 million.
 
Three brief points:
 
1. Britney clearly needed someone to assist her in 2008 while she was crumbling. She is likely still alive, while Michael Jackson and Prince are not, because of that.
 
2. Guardianships can be temporary and Britney’s seems to be a perfect example of temporary intervention being all that is required. She should have the right to make stupid decisions on her own.
 
3. I doubt that I am the only one who read the NYT article who thought that Britney was nothing more than a trained seal performing at the behest of her inner circle for the reward of seeing her sons.
 

You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore

zappa 30ZAPPA4-master768Frank Zappa was an eccentric musician who died in 1993. He was survived by his wife and four children – Ahmet, Diva, Dweezil, and Moon. (ed note: he was early in on odd names for celebrity children). For the past decade, Dweezil has played his father’s music on a concert tour titled “Zappa Plays Zappa.” After Zappa’s widow (and Dweezil’s mother) died, Ahmet and Diva became trustees of the family trust and have told Dweezil that he no longer has permission to use the title “Zappa Plays Zappa” without paying $150K each time he performed a song owned by the trust. The concert tour will be titled “Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa” this summer.
 
Several points:
 
1. The selection of a trustee is vitally important. A corporate trustee would likely be more onerous than the Zappa siblings and extract as much money as possible from Dweezil for performing his father’s music.
 
2. There is no word on how much his mother made Dweezil pay the trust for the use of the music. Odds are that it was minimal.
 
3. Dweezil is correct that the new tour name “does not exactly roll off the tongue.”
 
4. Abel and Cain were unavailable to comment on the sibling rivalry.
 
5. My first rock concert was Frank Zappa at the Armory Fieldhouse in 1978. How my musical tastes have changed.
 
 

Controversy

FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2007 file photo, Prince performs during the halftime show at the Super Bowl XLI football game at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive and influential musicians of his era with hits including "Little Red Corvette," ''Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry," was found dead at his home on Thursday, April 21, 2016, in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. He was 57. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

As mentioned the other day, Prince did not leave a will. A Minnesota court today appointed a corporate trust company as special administrator to manage his affairs and identify his heirs (I can help – his sister, 3 surviving half siblings, and the children of his 2 deceased half-siblings will inherit under law). His estate is rumored to be worth $300 million. 

 Three brief points: 
 
1. A bank trustee is perfect for this role when no family members have experience in managing such a large amount of assets. 
 
2. I hope the trustee does not quickly resume Prince’s habit of sending take down notices to Youtube for all of his videos posted in recent days. His Super Bowl performance is worth 12 minutes of your time. 
 
3. Did anyone truly believe that Michael Jackson, who left a will, would provide for his death in a better manner than Prince?
 

Purple Mess?

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Reports are surfacing that Prince did not leave a will. Of course, it is ludicrous to expect someone to present his will one business day after his death. Still, his longtime attorney and friend said that he did not prepare a will for his Purple Majesty because Prince thought he would live to be 1,999. It is unlikely another attorney prepared a will for Prince. He is survived by a sister and three half-siblings.

Three quick points:

1. Live to be 1,999? At some point the attorney/friend has to say, “Dude, the average American lives to be 78. Add fifteen years for taking care of yourself. Tell me who should inherit your sizable estate and let’s write it down.”

2. Under Ohio law, his estate would pass equally to his sister and half sister (plus any children of his dead half-siblings).

3. If the attorney for Harper Lee were appointed as Executor, we would see various outtakes released as newly discovered material and presumably titled “1998.”

 

Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Musicians

In light of Prince’s untimely death, the below chart is fascinating. Most common age of death for pop stars is 56. Mercifully, the trend line is up.  Full story here.

Paul Walker, Sumner Redstone, and Tom Benson Updates

tom bensonBriefly updating three stories previously mentioned.

1. Paul Walker’s teenaged daughter settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $10 million against the driver of the Porsche in which he was riding at the time of his death in 2013. The settlement actually occurred nearly 18 months ago, but was only recently reported. Her lawsuit against Porsche for manufacturing an allegedly defective vehicle is still ongoing.

2. Sumner Redstone settled the lawsuit filed by his former girlfriend, Manuela Herzner, questioning his capacity to remove her as his health care surrogate and presumably his capacity to revise his will to omit her. She was allegedly slated to receive $50 million plus an expensive house. The settlement is reportedly for less than $70 million.

3. Last, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that the court records regarding Tom Benson’s competency hearings should remain sealed and unavailable to the public. After the Harper Lee probate judge sealed her estate proceedings, it seems that Southern courts have a proclivity for privacy while their predecessors acted in hooded robes for their secrecy.

Hey, New Jersey, Your Tax Base Is Too Narrow

davidtepper

David Tepper is a hedge fund manager whose company is located in New Jersey.  He is also a resident of the Garden State (misnomer alert). He recently announced that he was moving his corporate headquarters and his personal residence to Florida.  The NJ state budget director then stated that this move could affect the amount of tax revenues generated by NJ.  

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Apple, Italians, and Ecryption

apple Leonardo-Fabbretti-jpgIn a topic that is evergreen, an Italian man adopted a boy from Ethiopia in 2007.  The boy tragically died of cancer last year at the age of 13.  The boy owned an iPhone 6 which both he and his father accessed by finger print ID.  After his son died, the father lost access to the phone because he claims the phone restarted during an access attempt.  The father has since written to Tim Cook begging him to assist with unlocking the phone so he can see the last two months of his son’s photos and life.   Apple has been unable to assist him.  In lieu of unlocking the phone, the guy has said he will accept a donation to an orphanage benefiting Ethiopian children.

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Guardians, Drugs, and Embezzlement

boston guardian

 

A Massachusetts man was appointed guardian of his niece and nephew when their parents died in a car crash in 2009.  The man was recently indicted for allegedly stealing approximately $250,000 from their trust fund in the 11 months after he was released from rehab.  He pleaded not guilty.

Three very quick points:

  1. I always recommend that clients designate different individuals to serve as guardian and trustee.
  2. If different people, the guardian should be able to ascertain if the trustee is stealing from the trust.
  3. Embezzlers are smart enough to not use stolen funds to buy tangible property, but not smart enough to avoid being caught.  Such is the lot of gambling and drug addicts.   

Back From Beaver Creek

jack boarding

 

Post to follow tomorrow.  Meanwhile, here is a pic of Jack in the terrain park.

 

The Morning Line (Again)

mick cronin

Paul Daugherty has once again graciously allowed me to guest write his The Morning Line blog for the Cincinnati Enquirer.   It is primarily about Mick Cronin.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

Killing A Mockingbird

mockingbird

Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, died last month at 89. Since her death, her executor first requested, and received, permission to keep her will private resulting in secrecy regarding the value of estate and her beneficiaries.  Last week her executor notified the publisher of the mass market (re:  less expensive) version of To Kill a Mockingbird that it would no longer allow the publication of that version of Lee’s beloved novel.  

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Krusty the Clown Could Have Prepared Better

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As previously mentioned, Sam Simon was the co-creator of The Simpsons.  When he died a year ago, he reportedly left his $100 million estate to various charities.  However, various charities he had supported during his life were initially miffed that they had not received support from his trust during the six months after his death.  Also, the individual taking care of his Cane Corso was squabbling with the Trustee about receiving insufficient funds to care for the dog.  Now, his girlfriend has filed a claim against his estate alleging that Simon had promised her $5 million in his will if she quit her job.  His first wife, Jennifer Tilly, also filed a claim against the estate asking to continue to receive payments from his estate for work he did on The Simpsons and the Drew Carey Show.

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Eight Is More Than Enough (Seven Is Too Many)

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Reluctantly resorting to advice columns for material.  A woman with 4 children mentioned that her friend with 3 children had asked her to be the guardian of the 3 children.  The first woman declined the possibility of serving as guardian after discussing the 3 additional children with her husband.  The second woman has since ignored her friend.  The first woman sought advice/affirmation for her decision.

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That Is Not Amore

johns pizza

 

Madeline Castellotti was the co-owner of famed NYC pizzeria, John’s Pizzeria.  Prior to her death in 2004, she changed her will to leave her entire interest in the restaurant to her daughter, Lisa.  She allegedly did so because her son, Peter, was going through a divorce and she did not want his estranged wife to receive any interest in the restaurant.  Lisa was supposed to transfer half of her inheritance to Peter after the divorce was finalized.  When she did not, Peter sued Lisa.  An NY appeals court recently ruled that his 3 year old lawsuit may proceed.  

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Sharia Estate Planning?

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A document purporting to be the will of terrorist Osama Bin Laden was released this week.  The one page handwritten document dates from the late 1990’s.  It was part of a cache of documents retrieved from his compound by Navy SEALs. In it, OBL gave 1% of his estate to one of his henchmen, 1% to another, and directed his family to use the rest of the estate to fund jihad.   No word on what happened to his estate at his death or whether he ever updated his will.

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A Debtor, Not a Son

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Slow times in the newsworthy estates area.  Going back a few months, Andrew Getty was the 47 year old grandson of J. Paul Getty who died of a meth overdose last year.  His father, Gordon Getty, filed a claim against his son’s estate for repayment of $14 million that he allegedly loaned him.  Gordon Getty is also seeking the return of 55 pieces of art valued at $1 million.  The younger Getty’s Hollywood Hills house was listed for sale this week at $8 million.

Several quick points:

  1.  Creditors of a decedent have to file a claim against the estate if they want to secure payment for a debt.  In Ohio, the claim must be filed within six months of the date of death.
  2. Based on the amount of the claim filed by Gordon Getty, it is obvious that he financed his son’s life.
  3. Andrew is the second Getty grandchild to die a drug related death.  An incentive trust might have helped them manage their finances.
  4. It should be no surprise that Gordon Getty is seeking money from his son’s estate.  His father charged a son interest on the ransom he paid for the release of a kidnapped grandson.  Apples do not fall far from the tree. 

 

 

 

Ella Mason Was the Reasonable One

ukf884xxWhen she died in 2003, a Maine woman left almost of all of her $200,000 estate for the care of the unwanted and abandoned cats in her hometown.  Her two page will appointed trustees to administer the funds but did not specify who should actually receive the funds.  Now, two women who run makes shift cat shelters have sued the trustees and the attorney who drafted the will.

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TML Again

j9y5m7e2Paul Daugherty once again graciously allowed me to guest write his The Morning Line blog for the Cincinnati Enquirer.  If you are a UC fan, you might enjoy it.

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.