Friday, February 27, 2009

Good Advice

NY Times Most emailed article

Good Advice Makes All the Difference in Estate Planning

You don't live to reap the benefits of good estate planning, but your heirs will.

From Bloomberg - President Barack Obama called for establishing automatic workplace pensions.

The budget “lays the groundwork for future establishment of a system of automatic workplace pensions, to operate alongside Social Security, that is expected to dramatically increase” retirement and personal savings, Obama’s Office of Management and Budget said in its outline, without giving details on the costs.

The plan would force employers that don’t offer retirement plans to enroll employees in a “direct-deposit IRA account,” with the option for workers themselves to opt out. Currently, 75 million working Americans, or about half the workforce, lacks employer-based retirement plans, according to the administration.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Permit Me

Utah Politics from the Salt Lake Tribune

Add It To Your "To Do" List

The Senate gave unanimous approval today to Senate Bill 142: Disposition of a Dead Body.

Utah will require individuals to get a permit from the Medical Examiner before they dispose of a body, either through cremation or shipping the corpse out of the country. There will of course be a fee.

Robert Gehrke at the Trib is happy he got rid of his bunch of dead bodies last week while it was still legal.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Falk Update

Falk's daugher okayed for supervised visit. Daughter, Catherine, claims is under 24 hour care and has Alzheimer's disease. Ms Falk alleges she has been blocked from seeing her father for six months. She has applied to be put in charge of his estate.

A lawyer appointed by the court Mr. Faulk at his home to assess his situation and met with his wife and his business manager. The attorney testified that Falk was well cared for and in his opinion did not need to put under his daughter's care.

Catherine Falk has been given the right a supervised visit to occur in 30 days.

The judge in the case ordered that the meeting should not be discussed in public after it has taken place.

The Shame of It

Michigan is considering cybershaming it's biggest tax deadbeats. California began doing that in 2007. Their list is always interesting because includes famous people. O.J. Simpson and Dionne Warwick have appeared on the list as some of the worst cheats. It wasn't without controversy when it began, but according to this article, it's pretty effective. They collected 5.4 million dollars in overdue taxes last year.

18 states already have adopted the concept.
"Debtor's Corner" in South Carolina
CyberShame in Louisiana

Connecticut pioneered the approach in 1997 and has raked in about $200 million since.

Maybe we'll need that new jail

CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.

And guess who's turned up in a new government report about tax havens?

Eleven giant recipients of your bailout tax dollars -
American Express
Bank of America
General Motors
Goldman Sachs
JP Morgan Chase
Merrill Lynch
Morgan Stanley
Wells Fargo

Together they've collected more than $227 billion.

One favorite among the bailout companies is the Cayman Islands. There's no income tax, no corporate tax and no capital gains tax.

Goldman Sachs has 15 subsidiaries there. Bank of America: 59. Citigroup: 90.

But Morgan Stanley beats them all with at least 158

None of the bailout companies CBS contacted would talk, except AIG which told CBS their operations do not "exist solely for tax benefit."

A jail?

Here's a story of a woman who left the bulk of her 3.8 million dollar estate to McLeod County for a new jail.

Will your will will were you want?

A Chicago man who died in 1994 was buried in a pauper's grave with three other bodies, reports The Chicago Sun Times

He left $210,000 in a bank account that went unclaimed. In response to publication of the states unclaimed property list, a woman came forward to claim the money, but could not prove a relationship. In this case the treasurer's office dug a little deeper and discovered a will. The man left all his money to the Salvation Army.

Lesson to be learned?

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias said what happened with Naber drives home the point that people need to make sure someone knows their intentions for their assets.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Who owns a corpse?

How much control do you have over your own remains? (John Poyser at the Calgary Herald)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Without the Estate Tax would we be more peaceful or would we be French?

The history of the estate tax has historical ties to the nation's history of war according to this report to Congress dated April 9, 2003. A History of the Federal Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping Taxes

Federal taxes for most its history were imposed mostly to finance wars or the threat of war. The first Federal tax on such transfers was imposed from 1797 - 1802 as a stamp tax on inventories of deceased persons to pay for the development of a navy in response to strained trade relations with France. After its repeal no other death-related taxes were imposed until the Civil War and went from 1862 and 1870.

The estate tax was imposed in 1898 to finance the Spanish-American War and repealed in 1902.

In 9106 Pres. Theodore Roosevelt proposed a progressive tax on all lifetime gifts and death-time bequests specifically for the purpose of breaking up large concentrations of wealth. No legislation resulted from his proposal.

In response to WWI, the Feds in 1916 adopted a progressive estate tax on all property owned by the a decdent at death, certain lifetime transfers, transfers not intended to take effect until death, and transfers made in contemplation of death.

The 1916 estate tax provided an exemption of 50,000 and rates from 1 to 25 percent.

Following the end of WWI the estate tax was retained but rates on transfers under 1million were reduced.

In 1926 the gift tax was repealed and estate tax rates reduced, but with the coming of the depression and falling government revenue, estate taxes were increased in 1932a 10% surchared added for revenue for the military build up proper to WWII. Estate and gift taxes were increased in 1941 to 77% on transfers in excess of $50 million.

24 Congressmen against the Elderly - a fight to the death

These are the headlines for today's "Elder Abuse" Google News Search (last 24 hours).

Three more men charged in two elder abuse cases - The Flint Journal
Lake County elder abuse: Man, 71, beaten and bitten - Santa Rosa Press Democrat
3 former health care workers arrested for elder abuse - Bakersfield Now
Two arrested for elder abuse = Lake County Reccord-Bee (CA)
Three arrested in nursing home deaths in Lake Isabella - LA Times
Several Cases of Nursing Home Abuse in California -, FL
Woman steals $85K from elderly woman = )Arizona)
Her family's legacy is gone and she will never know it = Minneapolis Star Trib

Stimulus Package Funding - Abuse of the elderly

Voting 397 for and 25 against, the House on Feb. 11 sent the Senate a bill authorizing $9 million over three years for state programs to prevent abuse of the elderly and provide emergency services to abuse victims. In part, the bill would fund special police, court and prosecutorial units for protecting the elderly and direct the Justice Department to establish a national strategy for combating elder abuse.

Ted Poe, R-Texas, said: "Elder abuse is a serious issue facing the country, and whether (it) is happening in homes or senior care facilities, we must do what we can as a nation to protect these seniors. I believe that because seniors are often unable to defend themselves from mistreatment and abuse, that we must work together to prevent violence from occurring in the first place."

The Hall of Shame

Nay MO-2 Akin, W. [R]
Nay SC-3 Barrett, James [R]
Nay TX-8 Brady, Kevin [R]
Nay GA-10 Broun, Paul [R]
Nay TX-31 Carter, John [R]
Nay TX-11 Conaway, K. [R]
Nay GA-9 Deal, Nathan [R]
Nay AZ-6 Flake, Jeff [R]
Nay NC-5 Foxx, Virginia [R]
Nay AZ-2 Franks, Trent [R]
Nay NJ-5 Garrett, Scott [R]
Nay TX-5 Hensarling, Jeb [R]
Nay SC-4 Inglis, Bob [R]
Nay IA-5 King, Steve [R]
Nay GA-1 Kingston, Jack [R]
Nay GA-7 Linder, John [R]
Nay WY-0 Lummis, Cynthia [R]
Nay CA-4 McClintock, Tom [R]
Nay TX-19 Neugebauer, Randy [R]
Nay TX-14 Paul, Ronald [R]
Nay CA-46 Rohrabacher, Dana [R]
Nay WI-5 Sensenbrenner, F. [R]
Nay AZ-3 Shadegg, John [R]
Nay TX-13 Thornberry, William [R]
Nay GA-3 Westmoreland, Lynn [R]

Western lands and the Estate Tax

I'm digesting a couple of articles on Ranching, Conservation easements and estate planning. One by the AP and in the High Country News.

From HCN - "The most heart-wrenching losses happen one piece of land at a time, one family at a time. The old man dies. The estate is a mess. The kids have other jobs. They can't afford the taxes."

Land-rich, cash poor Western ranchers are also lobbying Washington to exempt them from the estate tax. “I don’t like subdivisions and I don’t like development, a second-generation cattle rancher is quoted as saying to the High Country News, “There’s a lot of us around here that have got that feeling. We just don’t want to see houses built all over our land.”

The rancher in the A/P story is a a southern Colorado rancher who is afraid the estate tax will make it impossible for him to pass is 4,200 acre ranch to his children. He says estate tax issues "complicate the life of a simple man."

"I'm not an educated man and I'm not a moneyed man," he said. "I'm just a cowboy... an 80-year-old cowboy now."

Even so, ranchers who don't deal with estate planning could find themselves in trouble.

Since 1980 the Western population has almost doubled. There is tremendous pressure on the land away from agriculture to residential, commercial and industrial uses. The most attractive land left for development is the same land that is most productive for ranching and wildlife. These are lands in mid-elevation mountain valleys and near rivers and streams. This immense economic pressure to develop and subdivide the land can actually help ranchers and conservationists alike with or with out an estate tax repeal.

The Salazar Brothers

Obama’s new Interior Secretary, John Salazar hails from Colorado and grew up on a ranch in the in the Southern part of the State and is sympathetic. His brother Rep. John Salazar has introduced a bill that would eliminate the tax for ranchers.

The Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service opposes this approach and argues for a different way. They say using special valuations and conservation easements can reduce the value of an estate and let families escape the tax. A special valuation can occur if heirs agree to use the land for agriculture and agree to hold it for at least 10 years.

Conservation easements are ways for conservation, non-profit groups, or government entities to buy the rights to develop someone else’s private land and then not to develop it. It keeps the rancher on his land, puts a chunk of cash into his hands, and reduces the inheritance taxes by lowering the value of the estate. Adding up all exemptions, less than 1% of farms will be subject to estate tax the Department says.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Don't take a slice of my pie!

And from the inheritance fight that never dies, The Pacific Daily News reports the the son of DHL co-founder Larry Hillblon has sued his attorneys and others in federal court in California accusing them of taking too much money from his multimillion-dollar settlement.

According to Hillblom's Feb. 3 complaint, his attorneys were supposed to collect only 38 percent from Hillblom's share of the $550 million Hillblom estate, plus expenses, but they allegedly collected 56 percent. He and three other Hillblom children were each awarded 90 million dollars.

Girls from several Asian and Pacific countries made claims that he was the father of their children. Most of Saipan's attorneys became involved in the case. It was ultimately determined that a Vietnamese child, 2 Filipino children, and a child from Palau were heirs.

Housing an unexpected bargain in Portland

We reported on the story from the Portland Tribune last September about a woman who purchased a home and found $122,000 in cash under the floor boards. It started a two-year legal battle over who owned the funds - - they buyer or the seller? (At this stage in the battle it's the buyer.)

Now again comes a story from Portland about a man who found a package in a recently purchased house that contained historic war and U.S. bonds dating back to the 40s worth almost $200,000.

His first reaction:

“I think the biggest one was probably greed,” he said, laughing.

But the man, Nicholas Grod, realized they weren't his and started researching the original owner of the house. Wilbert Petterson bought the house in 1927. According to the Tribune, he was a firefighter who had a wife and two daughters, all deceased. But he found an obituary led to a grandson named Thomas Fagg living in Tulsa, OK.

“I was really specific with him too to say, ‘You know, this is not a joke. I’m not just prank calling you,’ ” Grod said about the phone call he made to the stranger.

Grod sent him the bonds, pictures of a grandfather he never knew and a letter earlier this month.

“I’m giving you this freely because of my trust in the great universe and the belief that it’s the right thing to do,” Grod wrote to him.

Donnita asks "Where is the love?"

The family of Grammy award winning R & B artist, Donny Hathaway, known for his 70s hits with Roberta Flack, "Where is the Love" and "The Closer I Get to You" is battling over royalty rights for the deceased singer. According to court filings, Donny Hathaway created a body of musical work which includes approx. 200 copyrights for musical composition which he wrote, co-wrote, produced, arranged or otherwise held a copyright interest.

Donny who committed suicide in 1979 suffered from severe bouts of depression and from paranoid schizophrenia. It was widely known that he was heavily medicated to control symptoms of his disease. This condition wreaked havoc on his life and led to several hospitalizations. It also led to marital problems. Donny was separated but not divorced when he began seeing Donnita's mother.

Donny's daughter, Donnita accuses her step-mother Eulaulah Hathaway of actively concealing Donnita's status as rightful heir of the estate. She is suing her step-mother Eulaulah Hathaway and her two half sisters for fraud.

H/T Radar

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Probating an Insanity Defense

Joshua Hoge locked up in Western State Hospital in Tacoma Washington. In 1999 he stabbed his mother and brother to death with a butcher knife. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and now he is fighting to inherit part of his mother's estate.

While some states have decided whether people found not guilty by reason of insanity can inherit the estates of their victims, Washington has not.

The case was set to be decided last month by the Washington state Court of Appeals. But the appellate court sent it back to King County Superior Court, which originally decided Hoge could not inherit money from Kissinger. The appellate court said the King County court made a mistake in its original determination and must reconsider the case. No date has been set.

The main issue in the case that has not been settled by statute is, can a person found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity be considered a slayer? Arguments were heard on February 12th and no decision has yet been issued.

The Fate of the Forests

Albion Basin - Wasatch Mountains

Nearly one third of Utah's 53 million acres is occupied by forest. Timberlands (forest that support commercial timber species) represent about 21% of Utah's forests. About 20% of the timberland in Utah is privately owned. Much of the private forest lands are being divided into smaller tracts and purchased by non-farmer/ranchers. Harvest contribution from private lands has increased from about 6% in 1966 to 12% in 1970 to 17% in 1992. It is expected to continue to rise because timber demand is high and supply from public lands continues to decline.

Landowners, and the decisions they make about estate planning, could affect the future of the nations forested areas by putting them at risk for possible development. Without proper planning financial pressures may increase the likelihood that large or contiguous forested tracts will be subdivided.

According to the US Forest Service, current forest landowners as a group are aging. People age 70 or older own about a fifth of all privately owned forest lands. More than 60% of current forestland owners are age 55 or older and about half of them have already retired.

Fish Lake

Officials at the US Forest Service say that the current generation of owners tends to value their forestland for its aesthetics: beauty, biodiversity, nature and a feeling of ownership.

They often manage their lands independently and rarely ask for outside help. Many of them have harvested timber in the last 5-10 years to generate income or improve the overall health and biodiversity of their forests. Their heirs, on the other hand, tend to view the family-owned forests more as land investments. Without these same values, the heirs will be more likely to sell or develop them.

They recommend several tips for elder owners to pass on their values and knowledge of their forests along with the land:

• Talk with their children about why owning forestland is important

• Invite them to visit and walk around their forest with them

• Show them how they’ve improved the land and why

Share their forest management skills with them

• Invite them to participate in the forest management decision making

At our website, I have posted the Forest Services publication Estate Planning for Forest Landowners - What will Become of Your Timberland?

High Uintahs

More can be found at the Family Forest Research Center
Info on Utah forests here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It seems only fair.

The WSJ reports on a significant change that is coming to 401(k)s. The change will benefit heirs who are not spouses. Non-spouse beneficiaries have been subject to different rules. The benefit to spouses, was once the money was in an IRA, they could stretch out withdrawals, and the tax bills, over their own life expectancies.

Children and other heirs were requried to withdrawing the cash over five years. The new law applies to 401(ks) and other defined-contribution type retirement savings plans. In order to take advantage of this change, beneficiaries have to transfer the inheritance to an IRA and take a first distribution by the last day of the year after the year in which the account owner dies.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One for the Ages - Abe Turns 200

"Discourage litigation," he writes in "Notes For a Law Lecture"

"Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser; in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peace-maker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough."

Abraham Lincoln
Quoted from ABA Journal

Nonprofits Must File or Lose Status

GuideStar, the leading provider of nonprofit information, reports that half a million nonprofits could find themselves stripped of tax-exempt status in May 2010.
According to IRS estimates, that's how many smaller organizations have failed to file a Form 990-N.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 requires exempt organizations (nonprofits the IRS has designated as exempt from federal income taxes) that do not meet the income threshold for filing an annual return (IRS Form 990 or one of its variants) to provide certain information to the IRS each year. The IRS created Form 990-N for this purpose, and smaller nonprofits began filing it in 2008.

The Pension Protection Act also directs the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of any organization that fails to file an annual return, including the 990-N, for three consecutive years. Revocations will happen automatically beginning in May 2010.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

State of Texas tries to negate fees for eight years of guardian services.

This one going to the Texas Supreme Court may be one to watch:

On June 24, 1994, a guardianship was filed for Wallace Darst who was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease by a son, Joseph Darst. On July 5, 1994, Darst’s other son and daughter filed to deny the material allegations in the application and to specifically contest their brother’s qualifications as a guardian.

The presiding county judge at the time was Maxine Darst, who recused herself. Judge Glen Ashworth in Texas’ 86th District Court presided over the case. Kaufman attorney Jo Ann Combs was appointed by the court to act as guardian.

In 2002, after a contested hearing, Ashworth awarded Combs $143,168.95 for fees and expenses provided and incurred in the performance of her duties as Darst’s guardian.

No fees were received and Combs filed a lawsuit in 2006.

That was dismissed as the county’s attorneys successfully argued that the 86th District court never acquired jurisdiction and Ashworth’s judgement was unenforceable.

Combs appealed to the Fifth District.

They said that no one had objected to Judge Ashworth’s appointment or jurisdiction in the eight years the guardianship was open.

Lot of unanswered question in the article. What is the system in Texas like. Why in this case is the state paying. Did Mr. Darst pay for any services. Nothing in the article in Kaufman Hearld indicates that there is a dispute over the quality of services provided or even the cost which turns out to be over a period of eight years 17,896.12 per year and 1,491.34 per month.

The Importance of Reviewing Your Estate Plan Regularly

From the Kansas City Star comes an article of a family torn apart by an out-of-date will.
Jone Frost Empie was a former Hallmark executive and reportedly a well-loved aunt. She died in 2003. Her will spelled out exactly what she wanted.

Trust fund 20,000 for care of two cats.
A gold tea pot to a newphew.
A cut-glass decanter to a niece.
Paris Expo 1855 pics to another niece.
Haviland china to another.

The cats died before she did.
The will was drawn in 1985. One of her heirs died in 2002. She sold many of here things when she downsized into a retirement home.

There is a suit filed in probate court in Jackson County to determine exactly who among two Frost relatives gets the punch bowl. It's 2009 and the fighting goes on.

Family fights over objects are often the most bitter and lasting. The article goes on to describe an awful fight over quilts and furnishings between a man's children and their step-mother who prior to his death, liked each other.

Please. Please. Update your will or estate plan every year. Review your powers of attorney. The fights described in the article are tragic, but preventable.

Is This True?

At the Consumerist you can choose your own adventure through Mandatory Binding Arbitration. According to them, recent studies have found that arbitrators rule against consumers between 94-96% of the time.

No Excuses. Never again.

Professors being Funny! From the Pawfsblog.

Birth of a Reactionary

"Last night's prime-time presidential press conference gave me new insight into the substantial minority of citizens who passionately, vituperatively opposed FDR at the outset of the New Deal. I used to think they were just a bunch of top-hatted plutocrats, alarmed at losing their class prerogatives and outraged to be betrayed by one of their own."

Now I know better: they were mad that Fibber McGee and Molly were preempted by another a fireside chats.

"So, ironically, just as my Republican co-blogger Rick starts having nice things to say about Obama, I have now become an implacable opponent. Crisis or no crisis, there is no excuse whatsoever for preempting House."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Daughter charged in $1M theft from parents
By Dennis B. Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Pennsylvania woman is accused of having tricked her elderly parents(both in their 80s) into signing over control of their home and savings, then moved into their house and wrote herself checks for everything from credit card bills to a country club membership.
She is accused of stealing or attempting to steal $1 million in cash and property.7.

She coerced her mother into signing a power of attorney while the elderly woman was hospitalized with a broken hip on July 3, 2007. Her father who has since been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, was already suffering dementia at the time he signed a power of attorney. The legal documents gave wide-ranging powers including the ability to add herself to the couple's bank accounts. The elderly woman told detectives that she thought she was signing documents that would temporarily allow her daughter to pay bills while she was hospitalized.

Please! Please! everyone! The time to make these decisions is long before you're sick. And review them at least yearly. No one believes that this can happen to them.

Paging Dr. Dog. Paging Dr. Dog.

Once-stray pooch has new job as therapist
By John Burgeson
Connecticut Post

Of all their many traits, dogs are perhaps most appreciated for their attribute of giving unconditional love.

A stray found wandering along Bridgeport's Boston Avenue was especially demonstrative in showering others with true puppy love.

Now, the dog, known as RC, has a full-time job doing what he loves best at the Brighton Gardens assisted-living facility just off Long Ridge Road in Stamford.

RC is a medium-sized, 6-year-old pooch, and based on his appearance, it's been awhile since anyone in his lineage has had AKC papers. No one knows what "RC" stands for.

RC patrols the halls and common areas where most needy clients reside, in what is known as its Reminiscence Neighborhood. They are in the winter of their lives, their memories in bits and pieces.

Puklin and her friend, Julie Loparo of Westport, a volunteer at the Westport animal shelter, found RC at the Bridgeport animal shelter after searching shelters in Stamford and Westport for a new therapy dog to take up residence at the facility. They're quick to recommend animal shelters to families in the market for a dog.

Many of the dogs up for adoption, they note, are house-trained, and RC even had a repertoire of a few tricks. He'll shake hands, sit, stay and lie down on command. He still needs to work on the instruction for "roll over," though -- he stops at the half-way point and begs for a belly rub.

Therapy dogs in elder-care facilities have become a nationwide trend.

R.C. has a co-worker named Benjie, a male, chocolate Shar-Pei. Both therapy dogs live at the facility full-time. The residents have been very responsive.

"We had one gentleman who sat by the fireplace all the time ---- wouldn't speak to anyone," See said. "After the dogs came, well, he's like a little kid again."

Settling the Estate

After a week of rumor and speculation, the National Gallery of Art in Washington confirmed that it was the buyer of “Bagpipe Player in Profile,” below, a 1624 painting by the Dutch master Hendrick ter Brugghen. Johnny Van Haeften, the London dealer, purchased the painting at Sotheby’s New York sale on Jan. 29 for $10.2 million, a record price for the artist at auction. The National Gallery purchased the work from Mr. Van Haeften. “Bagpipe Player in Profile” was recently returned to the heirs of Herbert von Klemperer, a German industrialist who was forced to surrender it in 1938.

Two valuable Picasso paintings will stay in New York after the heirs of their former owner reached an out-of-court settlement with the museums which are in possession of the pictures. The heirs of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy have reached a compromise with the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum. Apparently the Berlin-based banker was forced by the Nazis to sell the works in 1930s, a claim the museums have denied. The paintings are estimated to be worth 20 million each.

The heirs of a Jewish banker requested the return of a portrait by Oskar Kokoschka currently hanging in a museum in Ghent, Belgium, that they say their grandfather was forced to sell by the Nazis. Kokoschka is considered one of the three great Viennese painters of his time. A Kokoschka portrait sold for 2 million dollars in 1990.

Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- A Berlin court ordered the Deutsches Historisches Museum to return a poster looted by the Gestapo to Peter Sachs, the son of a dentist who was forced to flee Germany before World War II, paving the way for Sachs to claim about 4,250 posters from his father’s collection. Hans Sachs was an industrious collector, beginning in his school days. He published a poster magazine called “Das Plakat,” founded a society, held exhibitions and gave lectures. His collection, which included works by Henri de Toulouse- Lautrec, Ludwig Hohlwein, Lucian Bernhard and Jules Cheret, contained 12,500 posters and was at the time the biggest in the world.

Spiegel Picasso
NY TimesBagpipe Player in Profile

Wheels of Fortune - Bugatti Classic

Heirs of the late Dr. Harold Carr hit the jackpot when they discovered a rare Bugatti Type 57S two-seat Atalante coupe in a barn located in Newcastle England. The existence of the dust-covered car was a complete surprise. Apparently Carr purchased the car in 1955. The car is 72 years old with an odometer reading of 26,284 miles.

It recently sold at an auction in Paris for 3 million pounds.
BBC has the story, photos, and video.

Monday, February 9, 2009

There is a house in New Orleans

Potential home owners might be interested to know that the New Orleans house used in the film Benjamin Button, which was nominated for 13 Oscars, is on the market.

Tthe Garden District mansion is 7,800-square feet, and has a big yard, six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a music room, a library, and a reception hall.

"It's much nicer than what people saw in the movie," said real estate agent Dorian Bennett. "It's more like Tara than a home for old people."

The asking price for the house is $2.85 million, which is being sold to settle the late owner's estate.

According to the Times Picayune, the house was built almost 200 years ago in 1832 It has housed three generations of the William T. Nolan II’s family (Nolan’s daughter, Ashley, plays a doctor in Button). It has survived several hurricanes, including Betsy and Katrina. See the listing and a 30 picutre slide show here.

One more thing to read

The Calgary Herald has started a weekly column by Wills and Estate specialist C. Here's a summary of his opening.

Good estate planning can be powerful. It can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in income taxes. It can avoid estate taxes. It can encourage children to pursue a university education. It can leave a lasting charitable impact on the community. It can keep a vacation home in the family for generations to enjoy. It can avoid family fights.

It can express the values, and often the quirks, of unique individuals who broadcast what they stand for through their estate plans.

The column will discuss both the good and the bad based on real-life examples.
Should be interesting.


Beware Scams: Since it is tax season, there will be a lot of scams floating around. Be very careful who you work with and always confirm that they are an “Authorized IRS e-file Provider” before you start working with them. You can use the IRS’s search tool to find e-file Providers but be sure to do your due diligence. Remember, you need to trust the company or person you are working with because you are giving them every bit of information they need to steal your identity. If you can’t confirm something, call up an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center

Friday, February 6, 2009


A “limiter” device shut power to his residence shortly after it was installed and it was never reset. The device limits power and it blows out like a fuse if power usage rises past a pre-set level. The power can’t be restored until the device is reset. The power to the mans apartment was shut off four days later instead of the required ten.

Neighbors believed the workers from Bay City Power apparently did not tell the man about the devise. They also believe that the 93-year man may not have understood anyway due to possible early stage dementia. He was found frozen to death on the floor. The temperature inside his house was was so cold the water in the tap was frozen solid.

When Marvin Schur’s body was discovered, the overdue electrical bill was on his kitchen table, with cash clipped to it to pay for it.

The Bay City man has left behind a will leaving more that half-million dollars to the Bay Regional Medical Center. Marvin Schur’s entire estate, $600,000 has been reportedly left to the hospital.

The state Attorney General, Mike Cox, is reviewing the power company’s policies on shut offs. The city has suspended all shut offs for the remainder of the winter months.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lucky Man

A law professor with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, has spurred Major League Baseball to raise money for research in an event on July 4, the 70th anniversary of the baseball great’s farewell speech.

Michael Goldsmith, 57, is a law professor at Brigham Young University and a former mob prosecutor. He learned he had the progressively paralyzing disorder in September 2006, the New York Times reports. In November 2008, he wrote an article in Newsweek called Batting for the Cure, urging baseball to make July 4 ALS-Lou Gehrig Day in an effort to raise money for a cure.

Goldsmith was profiled in November articles in the Deseret News and the New York Times.

Gehrig’s speech will be read at the seventh-inning stretch at all Major League ballparks where games are being played on July 4, according to Thirty ball clubs will auction items worn by players to raise money, and MLB will also make a contribution, the Times says.

The Speech
Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?

Sure I’m lucky.
Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy?

Sure I’m lucky.
When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies -- that’s something.

When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter -- that’s something.

When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body -- it’s a blessing.

When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed -- that’s the finest I know.

So, I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.

Canadian same-sex marriage is recognized in NY probate case

"Mr. Leiby is decedent’s surviving spouse and sole distributee," so there was no need for formal notification of Ranftle’s three surviving siblings about the pendency of the proceeding, and Surrogate Glen signed the probate decree, allowing Mr. Ranftle’s last will and testament to go into effect.

Because the marriage was valid in Canada, it is recognized under New York law, held Manhattan Surrogate Court Judge Kristin Booth Glen. A lawyer for J. Craig Leiby, 65, who is the surviving spouse of Kenneth Ranftle, 54, said the probate petition was not opposed, reports the Associated Press. Both men lived and worked in New York.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Formula 1 Estate Planning Disaster

Bernie Ecclestone, owner of Formula One Holdings, is a billionaire and one of the highest paid executives in the world. His wife of 24 years has asked for a divorce.

The UK Timesonline says "Much of the family wealth is believed to be held by Mrs. Ecclestone in a trust that also owns just under 10% of Formula One. This has prompted speculation that Mr. Ecclestone, 78, who has run the sport since the early 1980s and has managed repeatedly to sell off parts of his stake without ceding operational control, could find himself fighting his wife for his share of his own money."

Looks like Eccelstone did it in order to save money on taxes. He placed most of the proceeds from his recent sale of 75% of his Formula One holdings into offshore trusts in his wife's name, because she is not a British citizen and pays less tax.
Now Ecclestone has hired one of the most expensive lawyers in England (Lady Helen Ward a celebrity divorce attorney who is currently representing Guy Ritchie in his divorce with Madonna.

No time for making enemies

Famous Last Words

H/T Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

"I've had eighteen straight whiskies, I think that's the record . . ." Poet Dylan Thomas.

"They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist ..." -- Civil War commander General Sedgewick's final miscalculation.

"Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies."-- Philosopher Voltaire when asked by a priest to renounce Satan.

Indispensible Men

Reaction ay the NY Times Room for Debate Blog on the Tax-doging appointees? Almost universal disgust.

• “The cemeteries of full of indispensable men.” - Georges Clemenceau

• THAT’S WHY HE HAS TO GO! The taxes are just the icing on the corrupt, don’t play by the rules cake.

I’m tired of this crap. Daschle should be passed over.

. . . our tax laws are too complicated . . . unless specialized in tax law, even lawyers have a tough time following and understanding [them].

They should put their money where their mouths are and pay the penalty.

How hard would it be to require all congressmen to have their tax returns vetted before they can run for office?. My guess is that the boon to the national treasury would be very much worth the effort.

[They] should do the honorable thing and disqualify themselves. Today!. So much for change…it’s the same old..same old story.

I can believe Mr Daschle made an innocent mistake. We all take transportation for granted. However, Mr Geithner is a crook.

Perhaps this is Obama’s plan for funding the bail out, get all the politicians and fat cats to pay their back taxes.

In arithmetic, an error is equally likely to be above or below the correct number. So, how come these folks never make an “error” in the IRS’s favor?

Tax cheats like Mr. Geithner and Senator Daschle do not deserve the public’s trust. Their “dog ate my tax return” excuses only deserve ridicule.

I do not think I would receive the same breaks from the IRS.

So much for “change we can believe in.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

What you need to know

Estate Planning: What You Need to Know
Published: January 26, 2009
Estate planning rarely gets the attention it should get.

Your Money Guides

We talk about all kinds of financial decisions but are reluctant to talk about what will happen if we die.

But not discussing something that is going to happen will not stop it from happening.

WILLS Everybody should have a will, and people who are married and/or have dependent children are inexcusably foolish if they do not.

If you are wondering what will happen to your money if you die without a will, go to

LIVING WILLS AND MEDICAL DIRECTIVES What will happen if you are seriously injured or incapacitated? This is an area where you really want to pay attention to the details. If you followed the Schiavo case and have a strong opinion about a specific treatment, then you need to express that in a living will.

SPECIAL-NEEDS TRUSTS Most people with physically or mentally challenged children worry about how their deaths will affect their children. Special-needs trusts are a common and effective way for parents to make sure their children are cared for. By leaving money to a trust and not to their special-needs children, parents can supplement government benefits to their children.

Trusts are no longer the province of the very rich. They are useful and straightforward vehicles to protect assets in life from creditors and lawsuits and to pass them to heirs on your own terms.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is simple: One day you will die, so while you’re alive, plan for it. If you don’t have a proper estate plan, the emotional pain of your passing could be compounded by financial chaos.

Everyone should have at minimum a will. They don't have to be expensive, you can even do your own. If you are a Utahn who would like information or assistance in drafting an inexpensive, professional will visit our website at or for more on estate planning and trusts visit