DUSSELDORF, Germany (Billboard) - Gail Zappa, widow of U.S. rock legend Frank Zappa, has failed in her bid to stop a German music festival from using her husband's name and image.
Zappa and her family trust had launched a lawsuit against the German Frank Zappa fan club over its annual Zappanale festival, demanding the removal of a bronze sculpture of Zappa at the festival site in Bad Doberan and damages of $325,000 if the festival continues to use the Zappanale name.
But the higher court in Dusseldorf ruled festival organizers may continue to use Zappa's name and his image on the festival logo and related merchandise such as T-shirts and baseball caps. It ruled that Gail Zappa's rights were not violated and that she could not prove she uses the Zappa brand in Germany herself. The court found that she has had knowledge of the festival since it began in 1990. Frank Zappa died in 1993.
Several thousand Zappa fans had demanded the withdrawal of the lawsuit, which was launched in April 2008.
The Zappanale festival, which features various bands performing composer/guitarist Zappa's music, had 6,800 visitors in 2008. The 2009 edition is scheduled for August 12-16.
An entire wing of the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum that was built to hold a peerless $90 million dollar collection of art from Papua New Guinea could be emptied by an inheritance battle between heirs of the Annenberg publishing fortune.
At the heart of the dispute is de Young Trustee John Friede, who appears to have promised his prized collection to the museum but also put it up as collateral in a legal dispute with his brothers in Florida.
Three brothers have been feuding since 2005 over the estate of their mother, Evelyn A.J. Hall who was a sister of the late publishing tycoon Walter Annenberg. John Friede and his brothers reached a settlement where John agreed to pay his brothers $30 million dollars, $20 million which was secured by the collection. The problem was he had signed the collection over to the museum the week before. Oops!
The other brothers want to seize the art and sell off the pieces.
All the dirt and pictures of the collection at SFGate.com
New York Times says it's time to care for our caregivers.
With more jobs being lost all the time across the board — more than 71,000 layoffs in the United States were announced on Monday and Tuesday alone — there should be comfort in the fact that one sector, health care, continues to add jobs. In December, employers added 32,000 health-related positions.
Unfortunately, one of the fastest-growing areas within the health care field — home care for the elderly — also is one of the lowest paid and most exploitable.
It is unconscionable that workers who are entrusted with the care of some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens are themselves unprotected by basic labor standards.
Utah's James LeVoy Sorenson comes in 2nd on Slate's list of 2008's most generous people. Sorenson who died last January at 86 has left 4.7 billion dollars for the Sorenson Legacy Foundation which will fund the Sorenson Moelcular Geneaology Foundation to build the world's best collection of genetic and family history information, and Sorenson Geonomics , for genetic genealogy testing services.The foundation also supports arts groups, colleges and universities and more.
First was the late Leona Helmsley who's 5.2 billion foundation will support the care and welfare of dogs.
SL Tribune is reporting on a tax mistake that took four years to resolve and hundreds of dollars in interest and penalties.
Last fall, the a Tooele couple agreed to pay $3,178 that the commission said they owed in capital-gains taxes after selling a small rental property. The state tacked on an additional $449 in interest.
The couple made an error in calculating their capital gains on their 2005 return.
The two are now retired and living on a fixed income.
On Jan. 20, the couple received a letter from the Tax Commission declaring they owed another $421.76 -- and warned that if they didn't pay in two weeks, a lien would be placed on their house.
Dee Talbot, the director of State Taxpayers Services, a division of the Tax Commission, said he recalculated that penalty and eventually lowered it to $116.
Is it over?
If they had paid the tax and then appealed, they would have saved the second penalty, Talbot explained.
The Taxpayer Services director noted that to avoid such misunderstandings, the state offers on-line tutorials and free tax advice for anyone who needs help filling out tax forms.
Help calculating taxes The Utah Taxpayer Service offers on-line tutorials at Utah Tax Commission.
Taxpayers can call for assistance in filing tax forms at 801-297-2200.
And don't forget the AARP Tax-Aide sites starting February 1st. These sites are for middle and low-income taxpayers and they in several places in the state and all over they country. There are 13 sites in the Salt Lake area alone. Info here.
ABC News is reporting that Peter Falk's wife of 32 years, Shera Danese Falk, is opposing the bid of daughter Catherine Falk to be her father's guardian, claiming that he is already receiving proper care and that he doesn't have a close relationship with Catherine.
In her Tuesday Los Angeles Superior Court filing, Shera wrote that the court "need not take the drastic step of taking away Peter's rights under the guise of a conservatorship."
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for next month.
The Arizona Republic reported today a very troubling case of a 78-year-old Scottsdale woman who's children are engaging in a will contest and the woman is very much a live and competent.
One son is claiming that his brothers and sisters persuaded their mom to cut him out of the will and is suing for more than 1$ million dollars in punitive and compensatory damages. The woman's only asset is a house and her estate is worth $130,000.
The woman is not a party to the law suit and blames her eldest son for the trouble. "It's ridiculous and unnecessary and inexcusable. I'm not dead yet, and I don't plan on croaking soon. . . . I intend to give my family hell," she is quoted as saying.
This month, Judge Bethany Hicks rejected the sibling's arguments, denying a motion for dismissal. Though no similar case is on record in Arizona and the probate code is silent, Hicks found "that fact does not mean that the cause of action . . . was rejected by the Legislature." The parties have been told to prepare for trial.
Now the woman is forced to defend her right to give her estate to whomever she wants.
In Whalen v. Prosser,719 So.2d 2 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998), the court wrote:
“Interference with an expectancy is an unusual tort because the beneficiary is authorized to sue to recover damages primarily to protect the testator's interest rather than the disappointed beneficiary's expectations. The fraud, duress, undue influence, or other independent tortious conduct required for this tort is directed at the testator. The beneficiary is not directly defrauded or unduly influenced; the testator is. Thus, the common law court has created this cause of action not primarily to protect the beneficiary's inchoate rights, but to protect the deceased testator's former right to dispose of property freely and without improper interference. In a sense, the beneficiary's action is derivative of the testator's rights.”.
“There is no guarantee that the testator's estate will contain any assets at the time of a future death. Thus, prior to death, the hope of an inheritance is not sufficiently concrete to create a property right. The disappointed beneficiary only obtains "vested" rights when the testator dies. See Brown v. Kirkham, 926 S.W.2d 197 (Mo. Ct. App. 1996). We are not inclined to believe that proposed beneficiaries in earlier estate plans, such as the Whalens, should be permitted to sue the new beneficiaries for mental pain and suffering, and possibly punitive damages, when the testator is alive, competent, and entitled to exercise her own testamentary rights.”
Keep it simple. Make it clear. Provide information in easy-to-understand language so it's easy to make an informed decision.
That's the message, according to a new survey from Siegel and Gale. "People are desperate for clarity and simplicity in order to make informed decisions,” said Alan Siegel, founder and chair of the New York City-based branding firm.
A survey of 1,214 American homeowners and investors between Dec. 29 and Jan. 5 found consumers are frustrated by the complexity of laws, regulations and documents—and blame the current financial crisis at least in part on confusion based on misunderstanding.
· 84% of all consumers are more likely to trust a company that uses jargon-free, plain English in communications · 79% think it is “very important” that President Obama “mandate that clarity, transparency, and plain English be a requirement of every new law, regulation and policy.” · 75% said complexity and lack of understanding played a significant role in the current financial crisis. · 63% feel “banks, mortgage lenders and Wall Street intentionally make things complicated to hide risks or to keep people in the dark.”
AARP Tax-Aide. Starting February 1st, several sites will provide free confidential tax help for middle- and low-income taxpayers of all ages with special attention to those aged 60 and older. There are 7000 locations across the U.S. and thirteen sites in the Salt Lake area alone. Go to aarp.org/taxaide to places and times.
Apparently the hottest ticket in NY is a play by Horton Foote called "Dividing the Estate." Foote is probably best know for his Oscar winning screen play for "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Oscar nominated screen play "The Trip to Bountiful."
Formal contracts where relatives agree to care for elderly family member have been around for a while, but are gaining in popularity for a couple of reasons.
Care by a trusted family member may be a better choice for the aging persons who want to stay in their own homes. As the economy tanks, these arrangements can mean income for an adult child who has the time to provide care. It can also be a money saver for the Parent. Formal arrangements for compensation will not be considered gifts, but as expenses that reduce the size of the parent’s estate. This can be very important if nursing care is required later on because elderly individuals must pass state-specific means tests for income and assets to qualify for Medicaid.
Another advantage of the intra family agreements is harmony. Often a parent will bequeath a larger share of the estate to a child who has provided care, which can lead to resentments and will contests from siblings who feel slighted.
If this kind of arrangement makes sense for your family, there are certain things you need to know. In order to pass legal must, caregiver agreements must be arms-length, written contracts completed in advance and for which the compensation for services is reasonable. You can’t do it after the fact.
Also, be aware that caregivers are required to pay income taxes on compensation. Payroll taxes may need to be withheld depending on how the contract is structured (independent contractor or employee status).
With that in mind, here are some tips for a good contract.
Have a good estate plan that includes powers of attorney that will ensure your wishes are respected.
Be specific about the duties the caregiver will perform. Medical care, meals, housekeeping, handling financial affairs, etc.
Be specific about the cost of the agreed services. Base compensation on average rates for similar services in your area.
Stipulate specific payment schedules, weekly, monthly, etc. If it is an up-front lump sum payment, put safeguards in place to ensure performance.
Steve Jobs said he's taking a medical leave of absence until the end of June to deal with a medical condition that he said has become more complex than previously thought.
I just had to pass this quote along.
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
— from a commencement address Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University on June 14, 2005, as he was recovering from surgery to remove cancer from his pancreas.
Longer life, longer window of exposure to dementia. Increasing needs and decreasing capacity lead the way to financial abuse and intra-family fighting. And sure enough guardianship litigation is on the rise.
Estate planners apply various techniques to minimize this fighting, well-drafted documents, insurance, gifting plans, prudently chosen fiduciaries, family communication, powers of attorney, and advanced medical directives, funded trusts, and so on. For most clients, a combination of these techniques can eliminate costly fighting. For others, no amount of planning will do.
No matter what happens to the estate tax, the family feuds will go on. With the biggest wealth transfer ever Estate Planners, Probate litigators, and elder law professionals should be busy.
President-elect Barack Obama and other Democrats want to keep the federal estate tax in place, rather than accepting its planned repeal in 2010. The tax was set to be repealed in January 2010, with a restoral to pre-2001 rules in 2011. It has been very difficult to create long-term estate plans in light of such uncertainly.
But it looks like the attempts to repeal the estate tax ended in final defeat in 2007. The focus instead is on reform.
The various proposal include: A higher estate tax exemption.
Indexing exclusion to adjust for inflation\Reintegrating the estate and gift tax exemptions
Allowing a surviving spouse to take advantage of a deceased spouse’s unused applicable exclusion amoung (portability)
Restoring the state tax credit and repealing the state tax deduciton.
Limiting perpetual dynasty trusts by making the GST exemption only generation of skips.
Eliminating the use of valuation discount planning for investment assets
Eliminating or limiting the use of Crummey withdrawal powers.
Portability and a 3.5 million estate exemption will probably simplify planning for a lot of people. But they still can’t provide shelter for income and growth in assets, or provide other benefits associated with a trust such as asset protection, and safeguards in the event of a second marriage. So in spite of all the current uncertainty, estate and tax planners should be looking forward to long and rewarding careers.
MIAMI (Reuters) - The former head of UBS AG's wealth management business, Raoul Weil, was formally declared a fugitive on Tuesday after failing to surrender to U.S. authorities on charges of conspiring to help wealthy Americans hide assets from U.S. tax authorities.
Prosecutors in Miami released a copy of a judge's brief order putting Weil on the court's fugitive list, but said they would have no further comment.
An indictment unsealed in November alleged that Weil and other unidentified bankers conspired to help 17,000 Americans hide $20 billion of assets in Swiss bank accounts in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that with the increase in the estate-tax exemption raising to $3.5 million this year, there will be fewer returns, but there more likely will be more audits and that the IRS has hired more estate and gift-tax auditors.
More audits will take place, in part at least, because of lost revenue due to the increase in exemption.
A probate judge in Tennessee has refused to grant permission to the man claiming to be son of country music artist Eddy Arnold to exhume the late singers body for DNA testing. The court said it's authority extended to matters of crime, determining cause of death, or a need to move remains to a different burial site.
Democrats are determined to act quickly to prevent the repeal of the estate tax. The Obama plan would lock the estate tax in permanently at the exemption levels that took effect this year. 3.5 million / 7 million for couples. Estates above that would be taxed at 45%.
Ashcroft Ghost Town, Testator thought to hold mining claims in the area.
Jim Blanning planted four bombs in Aspen on New Year’s Eve in an apparent extortion attempt on local banks. The 72-year-old then shot himself in the head east of Aspen without detonating any of the bombs. The attempted attack shut down 16 blocks of downtown Aspen for the night.
Blanning left a hand-written last will and testament on an envelope on New Year’s Eve. He left an handwritten addendum in his car.
He named an attorney who claimed he had not had any contact with Blanning for several years, did not know why he was chosen, and declined to accept. His brother will step in.
What he left behind is what many believe to be the most extensive files on mining claims ownership in Colorado.
In the will, Blanning left “3 crime scenes” to Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis and Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland. The “crime scenes” are reportedly Blanning’s apartment, office and storage unit in Denver. They are said to be full of mining records, books, maps, and mineral samples.
In the addendum to his will, Blanning named Braudis and Aspen attorney Art Daily “heirs to all personal records and property.”
Both Braudis and Daily, who knew Blanning casually for years, were surprised to be named. Blanning also left “all the mining property and binders, books, records, maps and anything related” to Kurt Hollberg and “Mr. Plum of Gunnison True Value family.”
Hollberg, 52, is a consulting mining engineer who lives in Denver. Blanning owned the mineral rights to two 10-acre mining claims in Pitkin County and may well own interests in many other claims elsewhere around the state.
Hollberg said Blanning contacted him about a year ago about a potential mining project around an old silver mine on Forest Service land in Aspen back country.
Hollberg said he felt uncomfortable dealing with Blanning because he seemed “fishy.” That might have been good intuition, because, unknown to Hollberg was that Blanning had once been convicted for selling fraudulent mining claims.
There are still several other mysteries regarding Blanning’s will. No one who has been contacted by the Aspen Daily News thus far knows the identity of “Mr. Plum.”
And in the addendum to the will, Blanning wrote that “all rights to the maps, data, records relating to what I call the ‘Star High’ project go to Central City and Fortune Valley Casino,” located just outside of Denver.
Bill Blanning said he believed his brother’s voluminous records would solve the mysteries of “Mr. Plum” and the relevance of the casino when they are released by the FBI.
A California man wants Eddy Arnold's body exhumed for a DNA test. 47-year-old Christopher Tanner is claiming to be the late country legend's son. An attorney for Arnold's estate confirmed to Nashville's Tennessean newspaper that the singer was made aware of Tanner's claim but vehemently denied his paternity.
Tanner's mother claims that she had a romantic relationship with Arnold for three years in the late 50s. She says she tried for years to arrange a meeting with the singer and her son.
Tanner insists pursuing a relationship with the Arnold family has nothing to do with Arnold's reported $40 million estate, but "more to stake my claim to being his son."
The case records were sealed Monday by the Nashville County judge.
The Salt Lake County Recorder's Office, which handles more than a thousand real-estate documents daily, is going high-tech. Half of the office’s workload is shifting online. Soon the microfiche files will be replaced by an electronic database of historic documents. The old large aerial photos will be converted to an online mapping system similr to Google Earth. The plan is to eventually conduct three-quarters of the Recording Office’s business online.
The improved efficiency in the Recorder’s Office resulted in a 2009 budget that is smaller than any time since 2002.
Most of the information is not freely available there is a subscription fee of $25.00 a month with an initial set-up fee of $150.00 which includes 1st and last month access.
Taxpayers may qualify for the recovery rebate credit if they didn't get a payment in or had a child in 2008.
AMT Exemption increases for incomes from 46,2000 to 69,950
Expiring tax breaks have been renewed:
- deduction for state and local sales taxes - educator expense deduction - tuition nad fees deducion - District of Columbia first-time homebuyer credit - residential energy-efficient property credit
Standard Deduction Increases
- 10,900 for married couples filing jointly and qualifying widow/widowers - 5,450 for singles and married individuals filing separately - 8,000 for heads of household
Personal and dependecy exemption is up $1000 to $3500.
Earned income tax credits rise to $41,646 for people with two or more children $36,995 for people with one child $15,880 for those with no children.
One in six taxpayers claim the earned income tax credit. Individuals can get this credit even if they owe no tax and even if no tax is withheld from paychecks.
Five-percent tax rate on qualified dividends and capital gains is reduced to zero if your income is below a certain amount.
New this year, taxpayers can claim an additional standard deduction, based on state or local real-estate taxes paid in 2008. First-time Homebuyer Credit - is a credit of up to $75,000 that works much like a 15-year interest-free loan. It is available for homes bought 4/9/08 through 6/30/09. There are income limits and qualifying rules.
Standard mileage rates for business use of a car is 50.5 cents per mils from Jan 1 to June 30, 2008. For the rest of 2008 it goes up to 58.5.
Parody from the NY Times The Plot Curdles, by Julian Gough
A few excerpts
As we all know, lax writing practices earlier this decade led to irresponsible writing and irresponsible reading. This simply put too many families into books they could not finish. We are seeing the impact on readers and neighborhoods, with five million Americans now behind on their reading. Some are just walking away from novels they should never have been reading in the first place.
The role of the ratings agencies cannot be overlooked in creating this crisis. The Pulitzer, Booker and National Book Foundation committees continued to award top ratings to these novels, even as unread copies piled up all over America.
In these difficult times, leadership — and sacrifice — must start at the top. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and I are agreed it is imperative we take the bad books out of the system, and slowly work our way through these toxic assets. Yes, it will be painful; it will be difficult; but at times like this, the government must step in and perform its duty, as reader of last resort.
"One AARP member found out through rate shapping that his AARP car insurance rate was twice the average.
A New York Life $50,000 permanent life insurance policy for a 65-year-old man available through AARP costs $286.17 a month, Maurer found. He says the same man can buy a $50,000 policy for 51 percent less from Cincinnati-based Columbus Life Insurance Co."
The estate tax can be 45%, which can be a big chunk of change. Even with all the planning and armies of lawyers, it can all be undone by mistake. A program developed by J P Morgan called ATLAS (Analysis of Taxes, Liquidity and Structures) has identified the top oversights in estate planning:
1. Wrong Heirs - People fail to update 401K beneficiary forms and others, leaving their money to a wrong heir or a dead heir.
2. Liquidity Deficit - JP Morgan estimates that about half of its clients don't have enough cash to pay estate taxes and have assets that cannot be easily sold. This can force heirs into forced sales in bad markets.
3. Estate Management - Leaving everything to heirs upon death is not the most efficient strategy to minimize the estate tax.
4. Executor - Too often people chose relatives who, however close and trustworthy, don't have the legal and financial background needed.
1. Review your estate plans and beneficiary forms once a year and after changes in your personal circumstances.
2. Buy life insurance to cover any deficits in liquid assets needed to pay your estate tax.
3. Effective estate management can help reduce the size of a taxable estate. The examples they reducing estate by $776,000 by purchasing life insurance that paid out $12 mil upon death, an amount that passes out of the estate tax-free. Purring low-value stock into a trust allows it to appreciate tax-free.
4. As your estate grows, so will the need for expertise in managing it. This brings us back to lesson #1. If your estate was worth two million dollars when you appointed your brother and now it's 100 million, it might be time to re-evalute your needs.
You can learn a lot about a place by reading the obits.
The article also tells of heart break that seeps out between the lines in a tragic death. A grieving mother whose ex husband killed her two children is understandably not mentioned. A young person dies and there is no cause of death. Suicide. Overdose.
Utah's obituaries are uncommon for their expressions of faith, belief in an afterlife, recognition of children who died before birth or in infancy. Of heavenly reunions and pre-existence and missions. The best obits spend less time on the resume and more time on the personality. "grandpa loved to eat tomato sandwiches and burned bread," "she loved Monte Python, Puccini, and poop jokes."
Obituary's in the Tribune were free until thirty years ago. Now cost as much as $1,000. Also in obituary News, the Casper Star published free Obituaries, but that ended last October.
Julianne Couch writes for the Star Tribune, " But readers also regularly peeked into the lives of tea-totaling, 100-year-old Mormons, hardscrabble miners, veterans of World Wars, and the men and women who grew up in sod houses or log cabins, rode horses to school, and built the nation's great roads, dams, and bridges."
Just a few weeks ago the obituary of Casparite Jim Adams was making the blog rounds.
His obituary reads in part "Jim who had tired of reading obituaries noting other's courageous battles with this or that disease, wanted it known that he lost his battle. It was primarily as a result of being stubborn and not fallowing doctor's orders or maybe for just living life a little too hard for better than five decades.
He was sadly deprived of his final wish, which was to be run over by a beer truck on the way to the liquor store to buy booze for a date."
The tradition of free obituaries is a sad loss. Obits provide lots of valuable information about people, communities, and society beyond names, dates, and places.E
IRS has a comprehensive tax guide Publication 17 for individuals on IRS.gov called "Your Federal Income Tax." It is updated with changes for 2008 including info on the new recovery rebate credit, new first-time home-buyer credit, and an additional standard deduction for real estate taxes. It gives info on how to file, what to include, how to calculate gains and losses, what kind of expenses can be reported, etc.
The entries in this blog written by Craig E. Hughes or any other attorney at Hughes Estate Group (rather than by staff), will include the attorney’s name at the end of the entry. The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.