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Bye Bye Love

It was recently reported that Ric Ocasek, lead singer of The Cars, left his estranged wife, Paulina Porizkova, out of his will which he executed several weeks before his death. The former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model left her much older husband a year before she found him dead in his townhouse when bringing him coffee while he was recovering from surgery. Specifically, Ocasek’s will provided that he did not want Porizkova to inherit even the elective share because she had abandoned him. Ocasek’s probate estate consists of $5 million of royalties and $100K of personal property.

Several points:

1. Odds are that Ocasek’s estate consists of more than $5 million because he likely had financial assets and real estate titled in a trust prior to his death.

2. Even if omitted from a will, spouses may elect to receive a portion of the estate which is usually 1/3.

3. In Ohio, spouses may only elect against the assets passing through probate. In NY, spouses may elect to take 1/3 of all assets, including those in a trust and others passing outside probate.

4. You might think I am cynical, but I find it odd that a woman who left her husband uses the Instagram hashtag #loveneverdies.

Photo Credit:  Tammie Arroyo/AFF-USA.COM / MEGA

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

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.

 

 

 

 

Daddy Knows Best?

Maurice Laboz was a NYC real estate investor worth $37 million when he died earlier this year.  He left $10 million in trust for each of his daughters and provided that they will receive their inheritance when they reach 35.  However, they may receive funds earlier if they abide by his wishes of signing a pre-nuptial agreement prior to marriage ($500K) and graduating from an accredited college and describing the use of trust funds distributed early ($750K).  They will also receive a distribution of 3x their annual salary each April 15 and distributions for staying at home with children born in wedlock (3% of the trust value annually).   He also disinherited his wife whom he was in the process of divorcing.

Several quick points:

1.  Funded trusts are a great vehicle for disinheriting a spouse in the midst of a divorce proceeding.  Otherwise, the estranged spouse is entitled to a percentage of the estate at death (1/3 in Ohio).

2.  Incentive trusts such as Mr. Laboz’s are good for imposing one’s wishes and values from the grave upon one’s descendants.

3.  Personally, I favor a trust clause that distributes 10% of my children’s inheritance to charity for each tattoo that they have, visible or not.

 

Laboz instagram1.jpg

 

I See Gullibility

An English woman is a key witness against a Florida psychic on trial for defrauding people of $25 million.  The woman sought the assistance of the psychic when her husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer shortly after leaving her.  The psychic was supposed to prolong the estranged husband’s life by two years and have him return to her if the woman divested herself of  the “tainted” money she made when selling the castle she and her husband owned. In a future plot line from Downton Abbey, when the husband died six months later, he left his wife no money in his will and authorized a servant to use his frozen sperm to have an IVF child.  In spite of the failure of the psychic to accomplish her goals, the woman continued to give money to the psychic ($900k  total) to prevent the servant from bearing a child with her late husband.

Several points:

1.  In Ohio, a husband may not disinherit his wife.  The wife is entitled to at least 1/3 of the assets under his will.

2.   When a deceased spouse has left a mess of his personal affairs, it is best to seek the counsel of an attorney, not the psychic whose shop is across the street from one’s hotel.

3.  Never tell a psychic how much money one has, do not believe in tainted money, giving money to a psychic does not untaint it . . . Heck, just avoid psychics in general.

4.  When an estranged husband wants out of a marriage then dies shortly thereafter authorizing a servant to conceive his child and tries to disinherit his spouse, and one ends up with $2 million plus one -third of his estate, do not be mournful and hire a psychic.  Be thankful the cad is out of one’s life.

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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.