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The Will In the Front Yard

1c1ck46lAntonio and Ann Yzaguirre died when a tornado hit their Tennessee home several days before Christmas.  Oddly, several pages of their will were found 55 miles away in the front yard of Sharon Thompson.  In looking for the owner of the will, she connected the will to the Yzagurirres through a Google search.

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Happy New Year

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The Will In the Cupboard

y5c6ivhvMelissa 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.

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Merry Christmas From My Family to Yours

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Are Not All Former Spouses Bums?

scvbh2i1After 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.

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Jihad Estate Planning

tp0tgmnbThe 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.

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TML Again

cpkrqfjcPaul Daugherty has once again allowed me to guest write his The Morning Line blog for the Cincinnati Enquirer.

     

2 Broke Girls Pt. 2

sumner-redstone-02At 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.

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2 Broke Girls

sumner-redstoneSumner Redstone is the divorced, 92 year old billionaire who owns a controlling interest in both CBS and Viacom.  His relationships with two much younger women were profiled in Vanity Fair earlier this year.  Since the publication of the article, and likely because of it, he has severed his contacts with both women.  

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Boxing for Dollars

duboseSamuel Dubose was the Cincinnatian who was shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer after being stopped off campus for not having a front license plate (a “chicken shit” stop in the words of the county prosecutor).  He is survived by his mother, father, and 11 children from various mothers.  

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Maraschino Marijuana

cherry1Arthur Mondella was the high living, third generation owner of a Brooklyn maraschino cherry family business.  When his business was being investigated for illegally dumping cherry juice onto the streets, investigators found a large marijuana grow room.  He then locked himself in his private bathroom and shot himself.

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Money Play

shele-covlinon New Year’s Eve in 2009.  The estranged couple was in the midst of divorce when Shele Covlin was found dead in a bathtub.  An autopsy revealed she had been strangled.  Ms. Covlin reportedly feared for her safety and had an appointment with an attorney to change her will the next day according to court filings.  Since her death, her husband, an unemployed backgammon expert, has been blocked from receiving any of her $1.0 million estate.  She changed the beneficiaries of her $1.6 million insurance policy to her children the month before she died.

There are a litany of estate planning issues, but let’s focus on the major ones:

1.  Changing a will and other documents during a divorce proceeding is always advisable if not prohibited by agreements between the parties or the domestic relations court.

2.  Simply changing a will can allow the other spouse to inherit up to one third of the probate estate if the spouse elects to take the elective share provided by statute.  Transferring the assets to a trust would be a more effective means of disinheriting a divorcing spouse.

3.  If convicted of murder, the husband will lose all benefits to his deceased wife’s estate under NY’s Slayer Statute.

4.  Am I the only one who doubts that Shele Covlin had an appointment on New Year’s Day to change her estate plan? The day after perhaps, but not on New Year’s Day.

 

 

 

 

Grandma Murders, Grandkids Inherit Millions (Pt. 2)

Fontainebleau-Miami-Beach Ben Novack was the son of the builder of Miami’s Fountainebleu Hotel.  Both he and his 86 year old mother were murdered at the behest of his wife of 18 years, a former stripper, within 3 weeks of each other in 2009 to collect his $10 million estate.  His wife was convicted of his murder in 2012 and is now serving life in prison.  

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Khloe and Lamar (Update)

khloe-kardashian-lamar-odom-divorce-relationship-news-update-2014At the risk of turning this blog into TMZ-lite or another gossip site, Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom have called off their pending divorce. Lamar has recovered enough from his cocaine and Viagra induced coma that he is now in physical therapy.

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Coma and Lamar

Lamar_KhloeLamar Odom remains in a coma in Las Vegas after being found unconscious in a Nevada brothel after going on a weekend bender with cocaine and herbal viagra. His estranged wife, Khloe Kardashian, is reportedly making his medical decisions for him even though they separated two years ago and signed their divorce papers in July.  Los Angeles divorce courts have a four month backlog of divorce cases.

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The Wind Cries Stolen

hendrix 5618565e0cf0c.imageA Tucson guitar shop is being sued by the estate of Jimi Hendrix over the ownership of a guitar previously owned by Hendrix.  The shop owner claims to have bought the guitar, valued at between $750K and $1 million, from an individual who obtained it from Sheldon Reynolds, the former husband of Hendrix’s sister.  The estate claims that the shop does not have title to the guitar because the guitar was stolen by Reynolds. The estate also claims that the guitar is priceless to the Hendrix family.

Three points:

1.  Under Ohio law, a thief can obtain “voidable title” which means that he owns the property until the legitimate owner claims it.  However, once the thief transfers the property to a purchaser who is unaware that the property is stolen, the purchaser becomes the lawful owner.

2.  If this were an Ohio case, the guitar shop owner would have valid title to the guitar no matter how Sheldon Reynolds obtained it before selling it – whether through gift from his wife (doubtful) or from his 14 year old step-son giving it to him by mistake (less doubtful) or simply taking it  – because the shop obtained it from a third party who was unaware it was stolen.

3.  In spite of the family’s claim that the guitar is priceless to them, I suspect it is really worth $750K to $1 million to them.

 

 

The Final Cut (Robin Williams Pt. 3)

robin-williams-435The widow of Robin Williams and his children from his prior marriages settled their dispute over his estate this week.  His third wife was seeking some of his personal belongings, which he left to his children in his will, and funds to continue to reside in their home for the rest of her life.  Williams had left her the home in trust, but apparently did not set aside a specific sum to provide for the upkeep of the house for her lifetime.  The undisclosed settlement provides that she will have sufficient funds to live in the house the rest of her life, plus she will be able to keep their wedding gifts, a bike they purchased on their honeymoon, a watch, and the tuxedo he wore to their wedding.  They also disputed the ownership of various photographs.

Three brief points:

1.  This dispute was really about the funds to keep her in their Tiburon house.  The rest of the items are inconsequential.

2.  I am glad his children were able to allow his widow to have one watch and one bike from his watch and 50 bike collection.

3.  In the era of digital photography, does anyone really fight over the ownership of pictures when they are readily reproduced?

 

 

This Is Not Springfield, It Is L.A.

splash-samsimoncharity-600x375Sam Simon was renowned as the co-creator of “The Simpsons.”  When he died earlier this year, he left an estate worth at least $100 million, most of which he left to charity.  He left the care of his rescue dog, a Cane Corso (think a pit bull on steroids, dating from Roman times) to the dog’s trainer.  Alas, he did not leave any funds to the trainer for the care of the dog which requires twice a week acupuncture at $3,600 per month, gluten free regionally sourced food for $185 month, and $150 grooming every three weeks.  The trainer also requested his $7,500 monthly fee to work with the dog to keep it from “changing your life in an instant (i.e. mauling)”  even though the trainer now owned the dog.  The trainer is upset that the trustee will not provide him the funds he has requested to care for the dog.

Several points:

1.   Trusts to provide for the care of pets after the death of an owner are permissible under Ohio law.

2.  If Mr. Simon’s trust did not specifically provide for the care of the dog after his death, the Trustee is not permitted to distribute funds to the new owner of the dog.

3.  When leaving someone one’s pet, one should also leave a sum of money to care for the animal. I always address this issue with my clients, lest they impose a financial burden on their friends.

4.  Mr. Simon could have made a huge difference in many human lives with the $140K he was spending annually on a dog prone to attacking anyone who walked onto his property, although attacking Howard Stern is understandable.

5.  Gluten free, regionally sourced food for dogs?  L.A. deserves our scorn and mockery.

 

 

 

 

Dad’s Weekend

20151003_022631694_iOS (2)Dad’s Weekend.

Just returned from Dad’s Weekend for Blair’s sorority at Indiana University. It is always great to spend time with her. Post to follow soon.

Pistons, Lightning, Shock, and Litigation

bill davidson B99286604Z.1_20150708215242_000_GUFHV1AF.1-0As I previously wrote, William Davidson was the owner of the Detroit Pistons, Detroit Shock, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.  He was also the 62nd richest man in the U.S. at the time of his death with a reported net worth of $4.5 billion in 2008 (and perhaps $3 billion at the time of his death in early 2009).  His estate recently settled a dispute with the IRS over the amount of transfer taxes owed for $388 million after the IRS claimed a $2.7 billion deficiency after his estate had previously paid $245 million in transfer taxes.  His estate has now sued Deloitte and Touche for $500 million on the grounds that the estate planning advice was bad and that the firm had wanted to land Mr. Davidson as a client for marketing purposes. Allegedly, Deloitte had promised that “he would win if lived and would he would win if he died” with their strategies.

Several points:

1.   I understand the frustration, but I do not see the damages (which are key for a lawsuit).  The effective tax rate for deaths in 2009 was 45% which means that Mr. Davidson’s total tax bill conservatively could have been $1.35 billion.  Instead, with tax planning he paid $583 million in taxes with only $133K in penalties.  I do not see how his estate was harmed by the planning advice.

2.  According to the figures, his estate declined in value by 1/3 in one year.  The financial crisis was hard on everyone.

3.  If he had died in 2010 like George Steinbrenner, his estate would not have owed any estate taxes because there was no estate tax that year  (although there would have been a deficiency for his unpaid gift and generation skipping taxes).

4.  I remain unconvinced that anyone truly “wins when they die.”

 

 

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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.