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Meanest Man Begets Mean Daughter

sam huffSam Huff is an NFL Hall of Fame linebacker who played for the NY Giants and Washington Redskins. He was known as the Meanest Man in the NFL during the 1960’s. He is long divorced,has lived with Carol Holden for nearly 30 years, and now suffers from dementia. His daughter picked him up one morning in late March to take him to a dentist appointment and has not returned him to his home. Some might call this kidnapping. The daughter then took him to an attorney to have herself appointed as his health care decision maker (she was already his financial decision maker) and her mother, Huff’s ex–wife, as the alternate. She also asked a court to appoint her as his guardian.
 
Several points:
 
1. The prior structure of Huff’s health care and financial powers of attorneys was what I usually recommend in a second marriage situation – the spouse/partner can make the medical decisions but the child can make the financial decisions.
 
2. The validity of Huff’s new health care power of attorney is certainly questionable given his dementia diagnosis which is further evidenced by him naming his elderly, ex-wife as his alternate decision maker.
 
3. I am always disappointed at the vitriol that children have towards the second spouse/partner of their parents no matter how long they have been together.
 
4. It is no surprise that the Meanest Man in the NFL would would have an incredibly mean daughter.

The Nest

The Nest hc cGosh, times are slow in the newsworthy estates and trusts area, except for the conga line of people claiming to be heirs of Prince. Reluctantly resorting to fiction for material, “The Nest” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is on many best books of summer lists. It has several estate planning lessons which can be gleaned from the following plot facts (all of which are in the first 40 pages so hopefully I not spoiling anything for anyone who wants to read the book).

A father created a trust for his four children. The trust was to be distributed when the youngest child reached the age of 40. His wife had the power to invade the trust in the event the children needed the funds earlier. One of the children had a power of attorney from his husband which allowed him to mortgage their vacation property without the husband knowing about the mortgage (trust me, I got the pronouns correct). Another child had a legal predicament which resulted in his mother lending him the entire proceeds of the trust to bail him out and hoping that he would re-pay the amount (called “the nest” by his siblings).

Points to be learned:

1. One should never give a power of attorney to a non-aged spouse unless it is contingent on disability. The potential for abuse is too great otherwise.

2. This trust should have divided into separate shares either at the conception or when the children were in their early 20s. Each child could have then borrowed from his or her share only, if necessary, rather than from the entire trust.

3. The wife/mother of the children should not have had the power to distribute all of the funds without being held to a prudent investor standard.

4. Of course, if there had been good estate planning there would not have been a novel, nor would I have a blog.

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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.