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(Not) Gentle On His Mind

After Glen Campbell died last year of Alzheimer’s disease, his fourth wife of 35 years presented a will to the probate court which excluded his 3 children from his second marriage. The will, which was executed in 2006, did provide for his wife and all of his children from his first, third, and fourth marriages. Naturally, his excluded children are contesting his mental capacity to execute the will.

Several brief points:

1. Campbell’s disinherited children will have to prove that Alzheimer’s caused him to forget that they were his children, or to harbor animus to them.

2. Their case will be difficult to prove because the will was executed five years prior to him telling the public that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

3. Their case will be doubly difficult because Campbell’s 2001 will also excluded them.

4. As a general rule, if you want to inherit from your father, do not sue him while he is alive (as they were alleged to have done over publishing rights).

Photo Credit:  Calli Shell for The Tennessean (in linked article)

License:  Fair Use/Education

What Is It With Sacramento?

Rosalie Achiu is a recently widowed Sacramento woman. Her neighbors described her as suffering from dementia. Shortly after she called the Sacramento sheriff for assistance in January, one of the responding deputies obtained her power of attorney, drilled a safe deposit box, moved her out of her house, and placed her on a plane to the Phillippines ostensibly to visit relatives there. The deputy claims that she did all of this at the behest of the woman. The deputy is now under investigation by her department.
A few points:
1. Color me skeptical that a woman would instantly give financial control of her assets to a law enforcement officer she recently met and that the officer would accept such power for benevolent purposes when social services and the probate court could assist the woman.
2. Mrs. Achiu should have executed a power of attorney prior to her husband’s death, or shortly thereafter, designating a trusted friend or relative as her attorney in fact for both financial and medical decisions.
3. In true 2018 fashion, the deputy claims that she is being investigated because she filed a harassment claim against her now current supervisor in 2007. This does not explain why her partner is also being investigated.
 
 
Photo Credit:  Unknown (AP?)
License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

#MeToo (#SheWasFirst)

William Agee was a boy wonder corporate exec in the late 70’s and early 80’s when he helmed Bendix Corporation. Mary Cunningham was a Harvard MBA grad voted most likely to be CEO of a non-cosmetics company. She spurned job offers on Wall Street to work for Bendix as Agee’s personal assistant before being promoted to Vice President. They eventually divorced their spouses and married each other while ignoring rumors that Cunningham had “slept her way to the top.”

After Agee’s several failed business deals reportedly undertaken under Cunningham’s advice, Cunningham became known as the Yoko Ono of finance. They settled in Napa Valley where Cunningham acquired the moniker of “Tomato Lady” for growing special tomatoes.

Six weeks before he died, Agee, reportedly suffering from dementia, changed his will to leave half his assets to his children from whom he had been estranged for 35 years. He also filed for divorce from Cunningham and named his daughter as his health care power of attorney. His last communication with his wife was via Face Time from Seattle. Cunningham is challenging the will although it does not matter because most of his assets were in his trust which was unchanged before his death.

A few points:

1. A will change six weeks before death to benefit children who have been estranged for 35 years will always generate questions of competency..

2. If Agee changed his will prior to his death, he should have also changed his trust if his assets were titled in the name of the trust.

3. Yoko Ono of finance? Tomato Lady? Music fans could only wish that Yoko Ono had grown tomatoes instead of creating unlistenable music and breaking up the Beatles.

Photo Credit:  Mary Moritz for the New York Times

License:  Fair Use/Education

Bad Mom

Ken Thompson was the Brooklyn District Attorney who died of cancer in October.  Two weeks prior to his death, he allegedly changed his will to omit any bequest to his mother and instead left his estate in trust for his wife and 2 young children.  

His mother is contesting the will alleging that he did not know what he was doing due to his illness.  As support for her theory, she argues that Thompson was unhappy with his marriage because of the amount of money his wife was spending.

Three quick points:

1.  It is anything but unusual for a man with young children to leave his entire estate to his wife and children.  Providing for a mother is what would be unusual.  

2.  The creation of trusts to assist his wife with financial management of the inheritance shows mental clarity not lack of mental capacity.

3.   If Thompson was unhappy with his wife’s spending, he is in the majority of husbands.

Unduly Influenced Boss (Sumner Redstone Pt. 5)

sumner redstoneViacom and CBS President, Sumner Redstone, is back in the news this week. He removed Phillipe Dauman and George Abrams, who are directors of Viacom, as Trustees of one of his trusts. They are contesting their removal by alleging he is incompetent. In a huge twist of irony/self-preservation/whatever you want to call it, only six months ago they testified he was competent to remove a girlfriend as his health care proxy.

Three brief points:

1. The stakes in the previous battle involved who could make his health care decisions if he could not (while the real plot was whether he could change his will to disinherit his former girlfriend) while these stakes are who gets to control Viacom and CBS after Redstone’s death.

2. I think if Redstone is in a wheelchair, being fed by a feeding tube, and able to communicate only through an aide now, and was in the same condition six months ago, he was likely incompetent at both junctures.

3. Dauman and Abrams have reaped what they have sown. Being close to Redstone is like having an alligator as a pet – it might seem cool, but eventually it (i.e. he) will devour you.

 

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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.