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Laws Are For the Little People

In an unusual moment of sanity, the federal government announced on Friday that it would stop seizing the tax refunds of taxpayers whose parents owed money to Social Security from years ago.  This has been governmental policy since late 2008.  In typical bureaucratic efficiency, the IRS would send letters to addresses that had not been used in 40 years or would inexplicably be unable to contact someone who had lived at the same address for 40 years.  In its defense, the IRS does not pass these inane laws, it merely enforces what Congress has passed.
 
Three quick points:
 
1.  Typically debts die with a person and the heirs of an individual are not liable for his debts.  This is an exception. 
 
2.  If you want to point fingers for this law punishing innocent taxpayers for the alleged sins of their parents, point to Todd Platts, a former Republican Congressman; a Democratic House and Senate in 2008; and a legislative process that allows crap like this to get inserted into a Farm Bill.
 
3.  It is nice of the WaPo to take a breath from its anti-Trump obsession and to focus on the injustice caused by this process.
 
Photo Credit:  Evelyn Hockstein for the Washington Post
License:  Fair Use/Education

His Prerogative

nick gordon A Bobbi Kristina Brown update. An Atlanta judge ruled two weeks ago that Nick Gordon, the boyfriend of Bobbi Kristina Brown, is liable for $36 million in damagesto her estate and to her father, Bobby Brown, for allegedly causing her death by providing her the drugs in her body at the time of her death and for assaulting her. The judge determined the amount of damages after Gordon stopped appearing in the case a year ago and the estate was awarded a default judgment (because Gordon stopped participating in the case) in September.

Only two points:

1. Gordon does not have the funds to pay the judgment and will likely declare bankruptcy to avoid paying them.

2. There is no word on when Bobby Brown will be held liable for providing drugs to, and ruining the career of, Whitney Houston.

D List Actress, A List Will Contest

meadow 2C581E1600000578-0-image-m-12_1442327019151Meadow Williams is an actress of whom you have never heard and who appeared in movies you never saw.  She was married to Gerald Kessler, founder of Natural Organics natural supplements company, for four years prior to his death earlier this year.  He was 31 years older than her.  In 2013, he changed his will to leave all of his $800 million estate to her while excluding his 2 children and 5 grandchildren.  His children and grandchildren have contested the will on various grounds, including fraud, undue influence, lack of mental capacity, and the fact that Ms. Williams’ divorce from a prior husband was never finalized even though it was filed in 1994.

Several points:

1.  The fact that Ms. Williams might not have been officially divorced should not be a factor in whether Kessler’s will was valid – he could leave her money whether they were married or not.  The estate tax implications vary, but the bequest remains the same.

2.  Still, 20 years to finalize a divorce?

3.  If Ms. Williams did convince her husband to leave her all of his estate, she might have over-reached.  She could have lived comfortably on any single digit fraction of his estate while still leaving money for his children.

4.  Ironic that that the children of a fortune based on natural supplements allege fraud in a will contest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Longer “Blurred Lines”

Following up on a previous post, earlier today a California jury awarded the estate of Marvin Gaye over $7 million in damages to be paid by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for their infringement of Gaye’s song “Got To Give It Up”  in their “Blurred Lines” hit.  Their song has made $17 million,of which $5.5 million was paid to Thicke and $5 million was paid to Williams.

Two quick points:

1.  I still believe that it was silly of Thicke and Williams to initiate this lawsuit to prove their ownership of the song.  It is usually best to let sleeping dogs lie.

2.  I doubt that Williams will be “Happy” with this verdict.

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Please, Please, Please (Settle This Estate)

James Brown died in 2006 and left most of his estate to charity.  A woman claiming to be his wife is contesting the will.  Tomirae Hynie and the Godfather of Soul married in 2001 but she was married to another man at the time.  She eventually had that marriage annulled in 2004, but Brown then refused to marry her because he was embarrassed about the prior marriage.   Hynie has stated that her prior marriage to her Pakistani husband was simply an immigration scam.  Brown named 6 children in his will and left out 5 others.  To benefit from his estate, the children have been ordered to submit to DNA testing to prove their parentage.  Those that pass are called DNA Proven children.

Several points:

1.  By law, spouses are entitled to a portion of a deceased spouse’s estate even if not provided for in the will.  In Ohio, spouse’s with more than one child will receive one-third of the estate.

2.  I have never heard the term “DNA Proven children” before.  I think it ranks with “thunder snow” as a great modern phrase.

3.  Hynie is very determined to inherit when she admits under oath to committing immigration fraud.  Although given recent events, that might not be the serious matter one would initially believe.

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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.