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Robert Indiana, the artist known for the iconic pop art image, LOVE, died in May at the age of 89. Mr. Indiana had moved to an island off the coast of Maine in 1978 where he continued to generate highly derivative images of his most famous piece, including HOPE for President Obama’s 2008 campaign.
For the last five years of his life, Mr. Indiana paid a caretaker $250K annually to assist him. He also gave the caretaker power of attorney. The caretaker withdrew over $600K from Mr. Indiana’s bank accounts supposedly at his direction.

The estate is supposed to turn Mr. Indiana’s dilapidated house into a museum to display his works. The estate is now embroiled in litigation over the withdrawn cash and whether Mr. Indiana was actually producing new art at the time of his death.

A few points:

1. Situations involving wealthy elderly individuals with no close family are always difficult because there is so much potential for financial exploitation.

2. Sometimes the caretaker is the best person to serve as attorney in fact if there are no relatives and the individual has outlived all of his friends.

3. Still, $600K of withdrawals for an individual living on an island off the coast of Maine with no place to spend the money seems excessive.

4. The last thing our country needs is another remotely situated vanity based museum dedicated to an artist of modest reknown.

5. AC/DC apparently copied Mr. Indiana’s playbook of recycling/copying prior work to earn great wealth.

Photo Credit:  Johnsonville Sausage 

License: Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Chain of Fools

When Aretha Franklin died last week after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, she allegedly did not leave a will. She is survived by her four sons, one of whom has special needs, who will receive equal shares of her estate. Her niece asked to be appointed as representative of her $80 million estate. Aretha’s copyright attorney told reporters that when there is no will, “there will always end up being a fight.”

Some points of relevant interest:

1. No one wins a long battle with pancreatic cancer. See Jobs, Steve.  Prepare a will.

2. When a woman dies without a will, there should not be much to dispute because there are no illegitimate children to contest heirship.

3. The niece’s fee for serving as personal rep. could be $1.6 million.  One of the sons should have dibs on this role.

4. Surprisingly, Madonna did not ask to be appointed as personal representative.  

Photo Credit:  Jae C. Hong/AP

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Close a Chapter

Janice and I dropped Jack at Ohio State on Saturday, closing the “married with children at home” chapter of our lives. He did not take the super hero lunch box.

iPhoneJD

Jeff Richardson is a New Orleans attorney who writes a blog named iPhoneJD. He posts about matters concerning iPhones (and other iOS devices) and the practice of law. He asked me to write a post about the apps I prefer. Because I have too much free time, I obliged.

His Old School

Peter Knoll was the heir to the Hans Knoll furniture fortune. After his father died when he was 13. Peter dropped out of Columbia University after a few semesters and allegedly never worked a day in his life. Knoll died earlier this year from hypothermia in his $10 million NY townhouse which was without heat since 2014.
 
Described as complicated and eccentric, and suffering from diabetes and melanoma, Knoll left $50K to each of his 3 children who reside in Florida and $100K to each of his grandchildren. He also left various sums to other friends and acquaintances and the bulk of his estate to a boarding school he attended in Vermont in his teens. His son is contesting the will alleging that the boarding school unduly influenced him into leaving most of his estate to it.
 
Three points:
 
1. Complicated and eccentric does not mean mentally incompetent.
 
2. Complicated and eccentric people do complicated and eccentric things such as ignoring their children in favor a boarding school they attended long ago.
 
3. We all know that NY is cold in the winter while Florida is warm, but if the children had visited their dad in the winter and realized he did not have gas in his house, he might have left them more than $50K.
 
Photo Credit:  Handout (from linked article)
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.