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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)

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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.