Latest from Estate of Conflict

A beneficiary of an estate or a trust has the right to review the actions of the executor or trustee by asking for an accounting.   To be prudent, an executor or trustee should provide the beneficiary with updates on the status of the estate or trust.  First, an inventory should be provided soon after the commencement of the estate or trust followed by an informal accounting which details the disposition of assets and the payment of expenses.  And to save on filing fees with the Court, the executor or trustee should propose that the beneficiary waive a formal accounting so
Continue Reading Every Beneficiary is Entitled to an Accounting

Before one considers filing an undue influence claim seeking to set aside a change in a Will or a recent transfer which reduces his or her share in an estate, there are a number of important factors to consider. In order to address the obvious proof problems in filing such a case, Courts have created a presumption of undue influence where there exist certain factors such as a confidential relationship between the testator/donor and the recipient of the gift along with suspicious circumstances surrounding the change in disposition.  
Courts will look to the following factors, where applicable, to assist
Continue Reading Undue Influence Cases – A Litigator’s Perspective

The transfer of wealth from the elderly has become the subject of heightened judicial scrutiny over the last several years, and this trend will only grow with the aging of the population.  Part of the issues faced by courts surround the use of a power of attorney and the potential for abuse of that power.  A power of attorney grants legal authority to an agent to make decisions on behalf of the principal.  A power of attorney is usually general in scope but of course can be limited in its application.  It can be made effective immediately or upon one’s
Continue Reading Abuse Under a Power of Attorney (A Case Study)

The two sons of legendary “B-Movie King” Roger Corman have made it clear through multiple lawsuits that they believe their parents are mismanaging trusts set up to benefit their four children. Allegations made in a recent filing, however, take a disturbing turn, accusing their mother of harassing…
Continue Reading <a href="/blogs/25991"><h3>Roger Corman’s Sons Claim Their Mother is Abusing Him to Influence His Estate Plan</h3></a>

A New York real estate deal valued at close to $1 billion came to a grinding halt when the underlying animosities between a late developer’s widow and his children from previous marriages came to a head in court. Although the litigation involves multiple claims of breach of fiduciary duties, the…
Continue Reading <a href="/blogs/25751"><h3>Bad Blood Among Late Developer’s Heirs Jeopardizes Real Estate Mega-Deal</h3></a>

From Esau, who rashly traded his birthright to his twin brother Jacob for a cup of soup, to King Lear’s ill-conceived plan to leave his riches to only two out of three daughters, family dynamics can lead to estate problems.
Any one — or more — of the following six situations can easily lead to a court battle for control if the scenarios are not properly addressed during the estate planning process:
1. Multiple marriages with children from current and previous relationships.2. An elderly widow or widower who changes the disposition of wealth shortly before death.3. Significant wealth, including a family
Continue Reading A Well-Planned Estate Can Quell Family Squabbles Before They Start

Spare Your Heirs the Guitar Man’s Fate: Three Tips for an Estate Plan That Silences Arguments Over Family Heirlooms
When Grateful Dead front man Jerry Garcia died in 1995, he left his custom guitars to the man who made them.
But Douglas Irwin, who built the guitars known as Eagle, Wolf, Tiger, Wolf Jr. and Rosebud, ran into opposition from the remaining members of the band and was forced to file suit to take possession of them. The other Grateful Dead members argued that the band’s instruments were owned collectively, and therefore the guitars weren’t Garcia’s to bequeath. Eventually, the
Continue Reading Spare Your Heirs the Guitar Man’s Fate: Three Tips for an Estate Plan That Silences Arguments Over Family Heirlooms

When celebrated author John Steinbeck died in the late 1960s, he left a considerable literary legacy that included the classic American novels The Grapes of Wrath , East of Eden , and the novella Of Mice and Men . He also left behind loose ends regarding the rights to his works that would…
Continue Reading <a href="/blogs/25341"><h3>How John Steinbeck’s Estate Planning Missteps Led to Family Feud and $13 Million Jury Award</h3></a>