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Pedophile Will

So my blog prognostication abilities continue to be abysmal. In addition to the coroner determining that Jeffrey Epstein hung himself, he actually prepared a will two days before he died.

Epstein’s will left everything to a trust he created the same day as his will. Of course, the trust beneficiaries and its terms are private. His will designates two long time employees as co-executors of his estate and provided that they would each receive $250K for serving in that capacity. Meanwhile, an attorney for one of the women suing Epstein claims that he was an evil genius for filing the estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Several quick points:

1. Epstein’s estate is being probated in the US Virgin Islands because that is where he was considered a resident. Estates are probated in the decedent’s state of domicile.

2. The NY Post’s expert who said the will was filed in the Virgin Islands due to privacy reasons and the attorney suing Epstein on behalf of his alleged victims who thinks the US Virgin Islands filings are pure evil are fools and need to brush up on probate law.

3. It is interesting that the executors have agreed to fill that role for $250K. The commissions for executors are set by statute. Typically, they would receive a percentage of the estate which would be at least 1% or $5.7 million in this matter.

4. The reporting by the NY Post and the NYT has been error filled on this matter. I expect shoddy reporting from them on matters involving President Trump and from the Cincinnati Enquirer, but not from the NYT on a story like this.

Photo Credit:  NY Post  Composite

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

 

Sir Jeff

While we wait for the impending China crackdown in Hong Kong, the Jeffrey Epstein death remains the other big news topic. Epstein was not married nor did he have any alleged children. It is not known if he left a will or other estate planning documents.

Epstein was survived by his younger brother, Mark, who has two children. Epstein owned houses in NYC, Palm Beach, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. His net worth is reported to be $500 million although no one knows for certain nor the source of the wealth.

A few brief points:

1. Epstein supposedly made his money by assisting his clients with the minutiae of tax planning and other life details so it is hard to believe he did not leave a will and trust.

2. It is way too early to know his actual net worth and what claims will be brought against his estate.

3. For the sake of his heirs, they should hope that he was legally a resident of Florida or the U.S. Virgin Islands, neither of which has an estate tax, rather than New York which would tax his estate at a rate of 16%.

4. These complex estate issues will likely be determined sooner than the circumstances surrounding his death.

5. There might be some truth to the line “the person most surprised by the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein was Jeffrey Epstein.”

Photo Credit:  Unknown (from slideshow from linked article)

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Fake News

CNN news anchor, Anderson Cooper, is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt who died last month at the age of 95. She in turn was the great-great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. She left all of her estate to Cooper save for her $1.2 million Manhattan co-op which she left to her son, Stan Stokowski.

Gloria Vanderbilt inherited a trust fund worth $35 million in today’s dollars when she turned 21. She also rode the wave of the designer jeans trend in the late 1970’s with her eponymous fashion which was worth $100 million at one time. Initial reports soon after her death speculated that she was worth $200 million. Probate Court filings have since revealed that she only owned her co-op and $1.5 million.

Several points, none too shocking:

1. The data about her net worth would be private if Vanderbilt had used a funded trust for her estate planning.

2. Rare is the fortune that lasts five generations before it is dissipated.

3. Four divorces, dedication to philanthropy, advisors who embezzle, and living into one’s 90s deplete one’s assets.

4. An incredibly gifted plastic surgeon will also deplete assets.

 

Photo Credit:  Unknown

License:  Fair Use/Education

Sister Is Doing It For Herself

When Aretha Franklin died last August, she was reported to have died without a will.  The administration of her estate proceeded accordingly.  This week her lawyer of 40 years said that her family had found three handwritten wills, two from 2010 and one from 2014, in her house.  The 2010 wills were in a locked cabinet while the 2014 will was in a spiral notebook under a couch cushion.  The wills look like gibberish at first glance.  A court will determine their validity in June.

Several points:

1.  Michigan law provides that wills should be signed in the presence of two witnesses (same as Ohio).

2.  Michigan allows for holographic (i.e. handwritten) wills if it is certain the writing is intended to be the person’s will and it is dated. 

3.  Writing in a spiral notebook under a couch cushion rarely looks to be the final thoughts regarding the disposition of one’s assets even if dated.

4.  If someone has millions of dollars and millions more in expected music royalties, she should pay a lawyer to prepare a properly drafted will and trust and let the attorney keep it so there is no posthumous doubt about her wishes.  Get it right.

 

Photo Credit:  Mary Altaffer for AP

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

 

If It Is Not One Thing, It Is Something Else

 

Your chances of death rated by activity. Climbing in the Himalayas is definitely a death wish, as is base jumping (and its cousin, wing suit flying). As a cyclist, I am bummed out to see the somewhat high risk of death for cycling.

Be careful out there. And prepare a will.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Source:  besthealthcaredegress.com
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.