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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)

Taken to the Bath

Finally, there is some estate planning news to write about. Gloria Cary was an American woman who was the second wife of the eccentric eighth Earl of Bathurst. When the Earl died in 2011, he left his home and surrounding real estate, valued at $17 million, to his son, and the rest of his estate to his widow.

Typically, his widow and son did not get along even though the couple had been married for more than 30 years. After the Earl’s death, the widow was forced to vacate the family home inherited by the son. She sued for permission to visit the home to view the family’s collection of heirlooms, but she was denied by her step-son.

When Gloria died last year, she left the bulk of her $41 million fortune to two interior designers while omitting her step-son entirely.

A few quick observations:

1. At least the son inherited a significant amount upon the death of his father and was not disinherited entirely.

2. Inheriting an English estate is a double edged sword because the maintenance costs can be stratospheric.

3. If the Earl of Bathurst (“Barmy Bathurst”) wanted to ensure his son received some of his fortune, he should have created a trust to benefit his wife with the remainder going to his son. Although a trust might have been a step too far for an eccentric.

4. Of course, if the son wanted to inherit more than the house, he should have acquiesced to his step-mom’s request to occasionally visit and wander around the property.

Photo credit:  compendium of pics from Daily Mail

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Pedophile Will

So my blog prognostication abilities continue to be abysmal. In addition to the coroner determining that Jeffrey Epstein hung himself, he actually prepared a will two days before he died.

Epstein’s will left everything to a trust he created the same day as his will. Of course, the trust beneficiaries and its terms are private. His will designates two long time employees as co-executors of his estate and provided that they would each receive $250K for serving in that capacity. Meanwhile, an attorney for one of the women suing Epstein claims that he was an evil genius for filing the estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Several quick points:

1. Epstein’s estate is being probated in the US Virgin Islands because that is where he was considered a resident. Estates are probated in the decedent’s state of domicile.

2. The NY Post’s expert who said the will was filed in the Virgin Islands due to privacy reasons and the attorney suing Epstein on behalf of his alleged victims who thinks the US Virgin Islands filings are pure evil are fools and need to brush up on probate law.

3. It is interesting that the executors have agreed to fill that role for $250K. The commissions for executors are set by statute. Typically, they would receive a percentage of the estate which would be at least 1% or $5.7 million in this matter.

4. The reporting by the NY Post and the NYT has been error filled on this matter. I expect shoddy reporting from them on matters involving President Trump and from the Cincinnati Enquirer, but not from the NYT on a story like this.

Photo Credit:  NY Post  Composite

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

 

Sir Jeff

While we wait for the impending China crackdown in Hong Kong, the Jeffrey Epstein death remains the other big news topic. Epstein was not married nor did he have any alleged children. It is not known if he left a will or other estate planning documents.

Epstein was survived by his younger brother, Mark, who has two children. Epstein owned houses in NYC, Palm Beach, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. His net worth is reported to be $500 million although no one knows for certain nor the source of the wealth.

A few brief points:

1. Epstein supposedly made his money by assisting his clients with the minutiae of tax planning and other life details so it is hard to believe he did not leave a will and trust.

2. It is way too early to know his actual net worth and what claims will be brought against his estate.

3. For the sake of his heirs, they should hope that he was legally a resident of Florida or the U.S. Virgin Islands, neither of which has an estate tax, rather than New York which would tax his estate at a rate of 16%.

4. These complex estate issues will likely be determined sooner than the circumstances surrounding his death.

5. There might be some truth to the line “the person most surprised by the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein was Jeffrey Epstein.”

Photo Credit:  Unknown (from slideshow from linked article)

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Suspicious Minds

It has been a slow month for celebrity estate planning news. Lisa Marie Presley is embroiled in a lawsuit with her financial manager claiming he mismanaged her $100 million trust and left her with $14,000. She alleges that the manager sold 85% of her ownership in Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2005 for $100 million but invested most of the proceeds in the company which owned American Idol which filed for bankruptcy in 2016. She is also in the midst of a divorce from her fourth husband who is seeking $263,000 in annual alimony payments. She claims to owe $10 million in back taxes and $6 million in other debts.

Lots to digest.

1. The manager has countersued for $800K for unpaid investment fees. He alleges that Lisa Marie has a spending problem.

2. Allegedly, $20 million of the $100 million sales proceeds were used to pay off debts she had accumulated at the time.

3. Lisa Marie’s mother was concerned enough about her ability as a high school dropout to manage the inheritance that she was able to delay the distribution from Elvis’ trust until she turned 30.

4. Call it a hunch, but I suspect that Lisa Marie’s drug abuse, uncontrolled spending, and four marriages have as much to do with the financial straits as poor fiscal management.

Photo credit:  Unknown

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

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.