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)

TML Again

I wrote Paul Daugherty’s The Morning Line blog for the Cincinnati Enquirer again today. I riffed on the arrogance of the Bengals, the over-achieving of UC hoops, the inanity of the Presidential primary process, and a brief trip report about our month in Phoenix. I hope you enjoy it.it:  

 

 

 

Photo Credit:  Kareen Elgazzar for Cincinnati Enquirer

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article written by me)

21st Century Mourning (and Immortality)

 

Credit:  WuMo by Wulff & Morgenthaler

License:  Fair Use/Education

Lust for Charities

I am back after a two month hiatus fostered by writing for other projects, being slammed at work, re-locating our lives to Phoenix for five weeks, and suffering a dearth of worthwhile news in the celebrity estate planning area. Who knew that the death of a 103 year Hollywood icon would snap the streak?

Media outlets, led by the Daily Mirror from London, are reporting that the recently deceased Kirk Douglas left $50 million of his $61 million fortune to charity. Specifically, he left the money to the Douglas Foundation which he and his 100 year old widow, founded in 1964. All accounts seem flummoxed by where he left the remaining $11 million of his estate. The same reports want to scandalize the fact that he did not leave any money to his famous son, Michael Douglas. No links to his actual will have appeared on line yet.

Several illuminating points:

1. California is a community property state which means that Douglas’ widow, Anne, likely has an estate also worth $61 million.

2. In 2020, an individual may leave $11.6 million free of estate taxes to children or other individuals. It is not a coincidence that $11 million is the amount of funds that the reporters cannot account for. Those funds will likely fund a trust for his wife and two sons.

3. It is extremely rare to leave funds to a child while a spouse is living.

4. Michael Douglas is reportedly worth $300 million which is more than he can spend in his remaining years. It does not make sense to leave any funds to an independently wealthy 75 year old cancer survivor who will pay estate taxes on 40% of the inherited assets at the time of his death.

5. Journalism is not hard, but it certainly is lazy when journalists are afraid to have reliable sources and to ask questions about concepts with which they are unfamiliar.

Photo Credit:  Catherine Zeta Jones Instagram

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone an incredible 2020.

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