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Melvin and Howard

Melvin Dummar died this week. He was famous for having been named as a 1/16th beneficiary of Howard Hughes’ unwitnessed handwritten will which was known as “The Mormon Will.

Dummar allegedly found a disheveled Hughes near a Nevada brothel and gave him a ride to The Sands hotel in 1967. After Hughes’ death in 1976, an unknown man delivered a letter to Dummar, who was then living in Utah, for forwarding to the Church of Latter Day Saints. Before delivering it, Dummars steamed it open and saw that he and the Mormon Church were listed as beneficiaries of the will. Hughes was not a Mormon, but Dummars was. The will was one of 40 wills purportedly made by Hughes none of which were deemed to be valid.

A valid will for Hughes was never found resulting in his fortune benefitting distant cousins and other relatives. Hughes reportedly did not want his relatives to benefit from his fortune. Dummar’s alleged encounter with Hughes was made into the award winning movie, “Melvin and Howard,” in 1980.

Several points:

1. As a single man with no children and no siblings, Hughes definitely should have prepared an estate plan to distribute his billions.

2. As a man who dated Katherine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, and Gloria Vanderbilt among others, it is doubtful that Hughes frequented a brothel hours from Las Vegas although the uncut hair and fingernails might have been a turn off..

3. If this incredible story were not already made into a movie, it screams of material that needs to be made into a movie.

Photo Credit:  United Press International

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Gambling On Intestacy

Famous and infamous people are dying every day – Hugh Hefner, Malcolm Young, Charles Manson – but there is nothing newsworthy in their estates. Digging somewhat deep, it has been reported that notorious Las Vegas mass murderer, Stephen Paddock, did not leave a will to dispose of his reported $5 million estate. A Clark County, Nevada court had a hearing last week to determine who should administer his estate. Paddock’s 89 year old mother has declined to serve as administrator. It is likely that the Clark County Public Administrator, an elected official, will fulfill the responsibilities. The court will eventually determine who is to receive the estate proceeds.

Several points:

1. The complexities of dealing with the issues in this case are certainly above the ability of an 89 year old woman.

2. As meticulous as Paddock seemed, it might appear surprising that he did not have a will. However, maybe that is one more facet he thought through – he did not want to burden a familu member with the task of administering his estate.

3. With respect to who will eventually receive his estate, I am betting on the lawyers.

Photo Credit:   AP/Eric Paddock

License:  Fair Use/Education

 

What Happens In Vegas, Stays in Vegas?

kirkorianLas Vegas billionaire Kirk Kirkorian died last June a the age of 98. His $2 billion estate has been subject to litigation since his death. A young woman who claimed to be his daughter, but was proven long ago to be the child of the notorious lothario Steve Bing, recently settled her challenge to Kirkorian’s will. Non-paternity notwithstanding, Kirkorian paid $50,000 per month in child support to Kira Bonder until she was 10. As part of her mother’s divorce settlement with Kirkorian after their 30 day marriage, Bonder was supposed to receive $7 million in trust upon Kirkorian’s death. Nonetheless, she challenged that provision and settled for $8.5 million.
 
Several obvious points:
 
1. As the daughter of another man, Kira Bonder was not entitled to any of Kirkorian’s estate so challenging a bequest seems to be without legal merit.
 
2. For Bonder’s sake, I hope that the attorney who handled the will contest charged her based on time spent or on contingency for the increase from $7 million. It would not be fair to her to have to pay him a percentage of the $7 million she was promised and provided.
 
3. The first dollar Bonder receives from Kirkorkian will likely be more than she ever receives from her biological father who also contentiously fathered a child with Elizabeth Hurley.
 
4. What happens in Vegas is not necessarily applicable to the rest of the U.S.

Piece of Britney

britney cd6b98d5df2bfe13a293ba02d6aa0a42When Britney Spears had her breakdown in 2008 (think shaved head and window smashing), her father and attorney became her conservators. In Ohio, they would be known as guardians. They manage both her physical well being and her finances. As such, they make sure she takes her medicine for her unspecified illness as well as manage her career.
 
In recent years, Britney, who has been described as shy has not testified at hearings about continuing the conservatorship. She reportedly is only interested in seeing her sons. Her father receives 1.5% of the $17.5 million annual revenues from her Planet Hollywood shows and the same cut from the merch sales. Her court appointed attorney has received $2 million in fees since 2008 and the other conservators have received $6.7 million.
 
Three brief points:
 
1. Britney clearly needed someone to assist her in 2008 while she was crumbling. She is likely still alive, while Michael Jackson and Prince are not, because of that.
 
2. Guardianships can be temporary and Britney’s seems to be a perfect example of temporary intervention being all that is required. She should have the right to make stupid decisions on her own.
 
3. I doubt that I am the only one who read the NYT article who thought that Britney was nothing more than a trained seal performing at the behest of her inner circle for the reward of seeing her sons.
 

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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.