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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)

Self Care

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

Stinky Cheese Man

Eugene Brown died at the age of 93 in Corning ,California. His body was discovered after the mail carrier reported that he was not sitting outside waiting for her for five consecutive days. He was survived by three nephews and a niece, but was in contact with none of them.
 
He owned a house purchased in the 1970’s, a car purchased in the 1980’s with only 74,000 miles on it, and $2.7 million. He did not have a bed and only had two slices of wrapped cheese singles in his fridge at the time of his death. Besides the mailman, the only person who he spoke with regularly was his investment manager. Because he did not have a will, his nephews and niece inherited his estate even though some of them had not seen him in 50 years and some thought he had died years ago.
 
Several repetitive points:
 
1. Without a will, state law determines who inherits an estate. The result is the closest living relative(s).
 
2. 56% of Americans do not have a will.
 
3. Mr. Brown did not have any friends, but was a somewhat devout Catholic. He could have left his estate to any number of Catholic organizations.
 
4. Rather than saving his money so that his distant relatives could inherit it, Mr. Brown would have been better off spending at least some of the money on a bed, a more modern vehicle, unprocessed cheese, and attorney fees to prepare a will.
 
Photo Credit:  Tehama County Public Guardian
License:  Fair Use/Education (in linked article)

I Don’t Think I Love You

Limping to the end of the year while looking for celebrity news. Finally found some with respect to former teen heartthrob, David Cassidy, of Partridge Family fame. The will of the thrice divorced entertainer leaves his entire $150K estate to his son, Beau, from his third marriage. Cassidy specifically excluded his daughter from a previous relationship, actress Katie Cassidy, from the will. Meanwhile, a law firm which represented him has sued the estate for $100K of unpaid fees.

Several points:

1. Cassidy is free to leave his assets to whom he wishes – he is not obligated to leave them to his out of wedlock daughter.

2. The law firm should be paid from the estate before beneficiaries receive any distributions.

3. $150K estate after 50 years in show business? Divorce and drugs are expensive habits.

Photo Credit:  Facebook.com/Respect for Katie Cassidy

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.