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Texas Toast and Nebraska Will Contest

Michael Brinkman was murdered in 2016 by two men dressed in clown masks and Santa hats. They were looking for $200K he allegedly had in a safe. One of the men was caught and convicted based on DNA from a piece of Texas Toast from Raising Cane’s that fell out of his pocket and was traced to him.

Brinkman was survived by two children – Nicole and Seth. His will defined Seth as his son and the term “children” to include Seth and any children born after the will signing (Nicole was older). The will then left everything to his issue (a legal term for descendants). Nicole, who was not mentioned in the will, challenged it arguing that she was entitled to half of the estate because she was “issue” of Brinkman.

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that Nicole was entitled to half of the estate. To disinherit someone under a will in Nebraska, the person must be specifically excluded by the will.

Several quick points:

1. It is best to name disinherited children, or other possible excluded heirs, in a will so they cannot make the argument that Nicole did.

2. Contrary to popular belief, one does not have to leave a dollar to someone who is being disinherited. Simply naming them as excluded is sufficient.

3. It is also best not to carry partially eaten fast food in a pocket, especially when engaging in criminal activity.

Photo Credit:  Nicole Brinkman

License:  Fair Use/Education

 

Shooting and Drowning, Oh My

John Chakalos was a Connecticut octogenarian worth $40 million when he was murdered in 2013. No one has been charged with his killing although he was shot with the same type of gun his then 20 year old grandson had recently purchased.

Chakolos’ estate is to be distributed equally among his 4 daughters. However, last year one of his daughters, the mother of the gun owning grandson, disappeared at sea after the boat she was in with her son sank at sea after some holes were improperly repaired. The son/grandson was found 8 days later on a life raft. Now the 3 surviving daughters have asked the Connecticut probate court to declare the grandson as the murderer of Chakalos which they hope will prevent him from inheriting his mother’s share of the estate (and leave more for them).

Several points and one question:

1. The grandson should inherit his mother’s share of the estate. Slayer statutes apply when someone has been convicted of murder not merely suspected of murder.

2. Getting a bit wonky, the share of the now deceased daughter vested in her so technically she will inherit it and her estate will receive it and distribute it pursuant to her will.

3. If the Slayer Statute were to be applied, it should be applied to her estate although once again the son/grandson has not been convicted of her murder.

4. Is a 20 year old really capable of pulling off a perfect crime then repeating his success three years later?

5. If not, bad luck and odd coincidences certainly seem to follow the grandson.

Photo Credit:  Facebook?

License:  Fair Use/Education

Gronk Would Not Do This

 
Aaron Hernandez is the former New England Patriot who committed suicide last month while imprisoned for murdering a friend.  He had only recently been acquitted of the murder of two other individuals and was still appealing his prior murder conviction.  Since his suicide, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has vacated his murder conviction because his appeals were still in process.  Within hours after his arrest in 2013, the Patriots terminated his contract and did not pay the remaining guaranteed money owed to him.  
 
In his suicide note addressed to his fiancé, Hernandez wrote “you’re rich.” Many reporters have interpreted that to mean that he was thinking not only of what money he still owned but also that she would collect $6 million owed to him by the Patriots under his last contract.  Some think that the Patriots would be on the hook if they terminated Hernandez’s contract because he was convicted of murder but was later exonerated due to this peculiarity of Massachusetts law.  
 
A few points on the intersection of two of my favorite topics – probate law and the NFL:
 
1.  Hernandez and the Patriots actually settled his grievance for unpaid guaranteed money under his last contract for $1 million in 2014 likely meaning there is no further money to collect from the Pats.
 
2.  The victims of Hernandez have filed lawsuits against him.  Any judgments against him would be paid from his estate probably rendering it insolvent.  
 
3.  Unless Hernandez signed a will, his fiancé will not receive any portion of his estate because fiancés are not statutory heirs.  His daughter would inherit his estate if he did not leave a will.
 
4.  Drafting a will and thinking about the application of an obscure Massachusetts law involve long term planning and thinking which seem beyond the acuity of a guy seemingly lacking impulse control. 
Photo Credit:  AP/Elise Amendola
License:  Fair Use/Education

This Never Works, So Why Try – Redux

penn22n-1-web

 

A Penn State professor was allegedly murdered last week by the woman to whom he offered shelter and her friend. The professor was allegedly pushed off a cliff because he had recently revised his will and they thought they would benefit from his death. The woman was also miffed because he had criticized the parenting of her child. One of the reasons cited by the police in their arrest of the couple was they were “known drug users.”

 One legal point and two “I can’t believe this” points”:

1. Most states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, have “slayer statutes” which preclude murderers from benefiting from the will of someone they murdered.

 2. It is incredibly presumptuous of the woman and her friend to assume that they were named as beneficiaries of the professor’s new will.

 3. If “known drug user” is a marker for a criminal, then half of the adult population of Colorado are suspects for crimes there.

Jihad Estate Planning

tp0tgmnbThe six month old baby orphaned when her terrorist parents killed 14 people in San Bernardino is at the center of a custody dispute.  Saira Khan, the sister of the slain terrorist, has asked for custody of the girl. Experts are predicting that family members will not get custody of the baby because county officials will not recommend custody for family members if they are shown to have have had knowledge of the attacks.

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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.