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Knives Out

The film “Knives Out” is an award nominated dark comedy written by Rian Johnson, who is best (and actually only) known as the writer and director of “The Last Jedi”, the 8th installment of the “Star Wars” saga. The film involves the death of the patriarch of a family, his will, and the machinations of his family to obtain his estate. It also involves the Hercule Poirot-esque detective played by Daniel Craig investigating the death.

Without revealing any significant plot parts, I noticed a few estate planning points:

1. Will readings are entirely a creative device for Hollywood. I have never been part of one in 30+ years of practice.

2. The grandchildren were part of the angry family pining for an inheritance, but rarely would grandchildren inherit a meaningful sum from their grandparent unless their own parent were deceased.

3. The film did correctly reference the Slayer Statute.

4.Channeling my Gene Siskel, skinny, late middle-aged, bald man critic mode – if you are looking for something to stream, “Knives Out” is much more entertaining than the multitude of sequels and re-makes released by Hollywood last year.

Photo Credit (Unknown, but happy to give credit)

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

She Loved the Dough

Heather Mack is the “Body in a Suitcase” murderer who is serving time in a “notorious” Indonesian prison for killing her mother in 2015 in Bali and stuffing her body in a suitcase. The motive was money. A taxi driver who saw blood dripping from the suitcase notified authorities. Mack was sentenced to 10 years in prison. While in prison, she gave birth to a daughter, Stella, with whom she was pregnant at the time of her conviction.

The trustee of her mother’s trust refused to pay Mack her inheritance due to Illinois’ slayer statute. The trustee and Mack finally agreed that Mack’s daughter, Stella, will receive the $1.6 million instead. Despite her incarceration, Mack has been seen lounging around prison with her boyfriend while also posting photos on social media of herself in restaurants with her boyfriend.

Not much new ground to cover.

1. Slayer statutes prevent a murderer from financially benefitting from her crime.

2. My definition of “notorious” differs from that of others when prison involves having a boyfriend and going out to restaurants with him.

3. 10 years for murdering her mother? The Menendez brothers wish they had committed their crimes in Bali.

Photo Credit:  Instagram/thisischriswhite (from linked article)
License:  Fair Use/Education

Mellon’s Folly and the Infinite Sadness

Matthew Mellon was descended from the famous banking family. He died last month at the age of 54 after ingesting the hallucinogenic ayahuasca before starting rehab. At one time he had a $100K/month oxycontin habit.

When Mellon turned 21, he received a $25 million allowance from a family trust, one of 14 trusts established for him. He recently became a billionaire by investing in cryptocurrency. TMZ is reporting that his estate is now petitioning the probate court to authorize the sale of the cryptocurrency.

So many intersecting points in current events:

1. Someone should never give their child $25 million at the age of 21. Trusts can be created to defer an inheritance for as long as necessary.

2. In probate, assets can usually not be sold or transferred until the entire list of assets has been compiled which can take many months. With the decline in value of crytopcurrency, the estate wants to sell it before people realize its true value is likely zero.

3. Mellon might be the wealthiest victim of our tragic opioid crisis.

4. Following the lynching last month of a Canadian who moved to a Peruvian jungle to seek clarity through ayahuasca but somehow killed a shaman, Mellon is the second person whose newsworthy death can be attributed to it.

5. Ayahuasca is described as a sludgelike hallucinogenic potion used by indigenous shamans in spiritual exercises. I will take my drink inspired spiritual experiences through a nice fruit forward cabernet.

Photo Credit:  Forbes/Ethan Pines

License:  Fair Use/Education (linked article)

No One Has An Overseas Relative Who Died and Left Them a Fortune Who Will Contact Them By E-Mail

Copyright:  Wulff & Morgenthaler

License:  Fair Use/Education

Modern Love

Lawyers handling the estate of David Bowie have set a date of May 4 for anyone claiming to be a child of Bowie’s or a creditor of his estate to file a claim. The “child” part is important because the allegedly once bi-sexual Bowie left 1/4 of his estate to each of his two acknowledged children and half to his wife. The issue is that Bowie claimed to have been “incredibly promiscuous” during the 70’s and 80’s. His romances are alleged to have included Mick Jagger’s former girlfriend (Marianne Faithfull), Mick’s ex-wife (Bianca), Mick himself, Susan Sarandon, Charlie Chaplin’s widow (Oona O’Neill), and Slash’s mom. And your childhood best friend’s mom. Or dad.
Several brief points:
 
1. Under Ohio law (and Bowie would be the last person to claim residence in Ohio), creditors have six months from the date of death to file a claim against the estate for money owed by the decedent.
 
2. Illegitimate children generally can only claim from their dad’s estate if they were acknowledged by the decedent or if the child proves paternity after the death of the decedent.
 
3. In drafting estate documents for the Thin White Duke, it would have been best to specifically name the children rather than use the term “my child” which opens the door for illegitimate children to inherit.
 
4. The good part of May-December romances (i.e. Oona O’Neill) or bi-sexual couplings (yeah, we are looking at you, Mick), is that paternity is not a concern.
 
5. Bowie definitely knew about the power of charm, but he never let love walk on by.
Photo Copyright:  ZZ/NY/RY/REX/Shutterstock
License:  Fair Use/Education

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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.