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Mac Miller is a rapper whose music I am unfamiliar with, but whom my children have seen in concert. He died last year of a drug overdose involving fentanyl. Surprisingly, he left behind a will and a trust. Several weeks ago, we learned that his estate was valued at $11.3 million and that he left various personal items to his friends (think laptops, guitars, and jewelry) and his financial assets of $5 million and musical royalties and master recordings valued at $6.5 million to his family.

Several points:

1. Kudos to Mr. Miller for being the rare 26 year old to prepare a will and trust.

2. His estate will likely not have to pay any federal estate taxes because administration expenses (and perhaps state estate taxes) will reduce the net value below the $11.2 million in effect last year.

3. For an artist with a short career with a limited reach and the decline of physical media, a value of $5 million for the master recordings seems optimistic.

Photo Credit:  Mac Miller Instagram

License:  Fair Use/Education

Tasered and Confused

A local story has a probate court angle. The City of Cincinnati has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by an 11 year old shoplifter who was tasered after running from an off duty police officer. The young girl, who had been caught and warned previously for stealing from the same store, had $53 of stolen merchandise on her. She will receive $220,000 from the city and $20,000 from Kroger for the indignity of being tasered.

Several points and one prediction:

1. Because the girl is a minor, the settlement will be subject to probate court supervision until she turns 18.

2. Funds may only be spent with the approval of the probate court and then only for her mental health to overcome the trauma of being tasered.

3. She will have unrestricted access to the funds when she turns 18.

4. Call it more than a hunch that the number of shoplifting incidents at Kroger without repercussions will increase dramatically.

Photo Credit:  Albert Cesare/Cincinnati Enquirer

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Give It Up or Turnit Loose

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, died in 2006. His estate is still unsettled due to myriad lawsuits. He had intended to leave $2 million for scholarships for his grandchildren, memorabilia to his children, and the rest to a charity for scholarships for children from SC and Georgia.

Lawsuits have involved whether a woman should have been trustee, whether people should have been removed as trustee, the paternity of a son, and the validity of Brown’s marriage (his wife reportedly was married at the time of their marriage) plus the run of the mill will contest suits. The most recent suit involves whether his wife could sell the rights to his songs.

Two points:

1. There are no good lessons here. If heirs want to fight, they will find reasons to fight and no planning can prevent that.

2. I always preferred the music of Brown’s contemporaries, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, both who died tragically young. One benefit of dying young is that there is no large estate to fight over nor large family to fight.

 

Photo Credit:  Michael Holahan/Augusta Chronicle, via Associated Press and linked NYT article
License:  Fair Use/Education

Vegemite Redux?

Vegemite Redux?

In the intersection of two common themes here (Australian probate craziness and the danger of DIY wills), a terminally ill Australian woman filled in a DIY will while (whilst?) at the hospital. The will was only four pages long, but had multiple pages of attachments addressing her wishes from who would receive her house (apparently multiple charities depending on her thoughts at the moment) to who would receive her step ladder, cow bell, and scrapbook items. The Australian court admitted the will to probate, but the future interpretation and litigation will incur tens of thousands dollars in legal fees for her estate.

A few low hanging points:

1. The cost of attorney fees for preparing a will properly is minor compared to the costs of fixing a will that was not prepared properly.

2. The larger intangible cost for this woman is that her assets might not be distributed to her preferred charities/individuals and under the terms she truly wanted.

3. Call me unsentimental, but I doubt anyone cares about the step ladder, cow bell, and scrapbook stuff.

Photo Credit:  Zicasso Travel Website/unknown

License:  Fair Use/Education

Following the Eclipse Herd

Would you have either of these guys draft your will? I ran into Chuck Meyer (Santen and Hughes) during the eclipse at the Banks.

 

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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.