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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

 

Mile High Litigation

Pat Bowlen was the long time owner of the Denver Broncos. He died this past June of Alzheimer’s Disease. He created a trust in 2009 to hold and operate the Broncos.  In 2013, he stepped away from the team and turned control of it to the three trustees.

The trust provides that the trustees will pick one of his 7 children to operate the team. The trustees are reported to have selected his 29 year old daughter, Brittany. Meanwhile, his two daughters from his first marriage have filed suit challenging his competency to execute a trust in 2009 when he was allegedly exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s in 2006. The trust has a no contest provision which would cause the eldest daughters to lose their entire share of the trust by contesting it.

Several points:

1. Bowlen could have been suffering from Alzheimer’s while still having the required capacity to sign a will and trust i.e. know his assets, his heirs, and what his planning accomplishes.

2. Call it a hunch, but if Bowlen was incapable of managing his affairs, the NFL would not have permitted him to run the Broncos until 2013.

3. It is hardly a news flash that a trust dispute pits children from a first marriage against children from the second marriage.

4. If Bowlen’s daughters wish to show their father was incompetent in 2009, they should point to the drafting of Tim Tebow in the first round by the Broncos.

Photo Credit:  Joe Amon for the Denver Post

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)  

(Not) Gentle on His Mind (Part 2)

I previously noted that Glen Campbell’s 3 children from his second marriage were contesting his will which he signed in 2006. The will omitted them, likely due to their supporting their mother during her divorce from Campbell and later suing him over the publishing rights she received in the settlement. His 2001 will also omitted them. The children recently dropped their lawsuit.

A few points:

1. The lawsuit would have been difficult to win because Campbell made both wills long before he went public with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

2. Campbell’s estate was recently valued at $1.2 million which is way less than the original estimate of $50 million.

3. If the omitted children were successful in challenging Campbell’s estate plan, they would have inherited $100K each tops.

4. The money for recording artists is in the writing and publishing not the performing. Campbell generally performed songs written by others.

5. Three divorces, 8 children, and years of cocaine use are never conducive to accumulating wealth.

Photo credit:  Larry McCormack/The Tennessean

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

His Old School

Peter Knoll was the heir to the Hans Knoll furniture fortune. After his father died when he was 13. Peter dropped out of Columbia University after a few semesters and allegedly never worked a day in his life. Knoll died earlier this year from hypothermia in his $10 million NY townhouse which was without heat since 2014.
 
Described as complicated and eccentric, and suffering from diabetes and melanoma, Knoll left $50K to each of his 3 children who reside in Florida and $100K to each of his grandchildren. He also left various sums to other friends and acquaintances and the bulk of his estate to a boarding school he attended in Vermont in his teens. His son is contesting the will alleging that the boarding school unduly influenced him into leaving most of his estate to it.
 
Three points:
 
1. Complicated and eccentric does not mean mentally incompetent.
 
2. Complicated and eccentric people do complicated and eccentric things such as ignoring their children in favor a boarding school they attended long ago.
 
3. We all know that NY is cold in the winter while Florida is warm, but if the children had visited their dad in the winter and realized he did not have gas in his house, he might have left them more than $50K.
 
Photo Credit:  Handout (from linked article)
License:  Fair Use/Education

(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

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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.