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Till I Get to the Bottom and See You Again

In news of no importance, a California court ruled that the body of infamous mass murderer, Charles Manson, should be given to his grandson. The claims of a man claiming to be the son of Manson via an orgy and someone who was Manson’s pen pal were denied. The question of who will inherit Manson’s estate is still to be determined.

A few points:

 1. The body was released to Manson’s closest living relative as it should have been.
 2. The competition for the body of a man who personified “evil” is odd.
 3. The battle for the body is a prelude for a battle for his estate although after 47 years in prison the estate likely consists of a blanket, toothbrush, razor, and a few dollars for working in the prison laundry.
 
Photo Credit:  California Dept. of Corrections
License:  Fair Use/Education

Give It Up or Turnit Loose

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, died in 2006. His estate is still unsettled due to myriad lawsuits. He had intended to leave $2 million for scholarships for his grandchildren, memorabilia to his children, and the rest to a charity for scholarships for children from SC and Georgia.

Lawsuits have involved whether a woman should have been trustee, whether people should have been removed as trustee, the paternity of a son, and the validity of Brown’s marriage (his wife reportedly was married at the time of their marriage) plus the run of the mill will contest suits. The most recent suit involves whether his wife could sell the rights to his songs.

Two points:

1. There are no good lessons here. If heirs want to fight, they will find reasons to fight and no planning can prevent that.

2. I always preferred the music of Brown’s contemporaries, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, both who died tragically young. One benefit of dying young is that there is no large estate to fight over nor large family to fight.

 

Photo Credit:  Michael Holahan/Augusta Chronicle, via Associated Press and linked NYT article
License:  Fair Use/Education

Not About the Sport Coats

Craig Sager was a beloved basketball reporter who died last year from cancer. He was known for his colorful sport coats and bantering with Gregg Popovich, coach of the Spurs. He was divorced and re-married at the time of his death with children from both wives. His will is being probated in Georgia. It reportedly left everything to his second wife, Stacy.

His son from his first marriage tweeted yesterday that he was being summoned to court by a sheriff to prevent him from contesting the will even though he was not interested in contesting in the first place. His sister, Kacy, defended her brother while also flaming her step-mother and tweeted a list of grievances. Seeing a moment in the sun, the former girlfriend of the son felt compelled to jump into the fray and call the step-mother a POS in typical coarse social media parlance.

Several points:

1. Georgia is similar to Ohio in that when a will is admitted to probate all of the heirs at law (spouse and children) plus all of the will beneficiaries are required to receive notice of the probate proceedings via certified mail.

2. The son from the first marriage and his sisters were simply receiving the legally required notice.

3. Given the lapse between the date of death of Sager’s death and the date of this process, it is likely that most of his assets were in a trust and that a small account was titled only in his name and hence subject to the probate process.

4. Sager might have excluded his children from his first marriage due to their hostility to his second wife and/or their over-reaction to legal events.

5. Hostility to second wives can be avoided if they are age appropriate and their names do not rhyme with that of one’s daughters.

The Persistence of Illegitimacy

Salvador Dali died in 1989 and left his entire estate to the Spanish government. Pilar Tabel is a Tarot card reader and fortune teller who claims that she is Dali’s daughter due to a brief romance between her mother and the famous artist in the mid-50’s. She has tried for 10 years to prove that Dali is her father. A DNA test conducted from his death mask was inconclusive. She alleged that she did not receive the results of a DNA test conducted the next year. Dali was allegedly gay or simply preferred masturbation or voyeurism so the paternity claim of this woman seems far fetched. She also sued an author for supposedly basing a fictional character on her. Nonetheless, a Spanish court has ordered the exhumation of his body.

Several points:

1. If you read the entire article, you might wish to shower afterwards. A guy who is turned on sexually by Hitler is abnormal.

2. I would think that a case brought 28 years after someone’s death would be barred by the statute of limitations or the principle of laches.

3. In the U.S., Dali would not be obligated to leave his daughter, legitimate or illegitimate, anything.

4. It is unlikely that the woman did not receive the results of the second DNA test – I believe that they were negative and she simply waited another 9 years before pursuing this claim.

5. I doubt I am the only person who finds this matter incredibly surreal.

Photo Credit:  Salvador Dali/Government of Spain

License:  Fair Use/Education

It Is Always About Trump Even When It Is Not

Phyllis Schlafly was a noted conservative icon known primarily for opposing the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution in the 1970’s.  She died last September at the at age of 92 survived by her six children.  Her daughter, Anne, is contesting the last revision to her will which provided that any legal challenges to the will are to be paid out of the share of the person bringing them. Her brothers claim that Anne’s legal challenges have already cost $1 million in legal fees.  
 
Three brief points:
 
1.  A standard no contest clause in a will usually provides that if someone contests the will, he  will lose his entire inheritance.  This is why it is advisable to leave more than $1 to a disinherited heir.
 
2.  This disputed clause seems to be more lenient than the typical no contest clause and definitely does not seem worth challenging.
 
3.  Only in the world of our Trump obsessed media, would Schlafly’s support of President Trump garner the headline and two paragraphs in this article that has nothing to do with the President. 
 
Photo Copyright:  David R. Usher/Facebook
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.