Philip Seymour Hoffman Did Not Leave His Estate To His Childrfen

Your lawblogger truly believes that  Philip Seymour Hoffman was the best actor of his time. Too bad this does not extend to his ability at estate planning. As reported by the New York Post and by extra tv.com here , Hoffman did not want to make his three kids into "trust babies" so he left all of his estate to his long time girlfriend and the mother of his children, Mimi O'Donnell.Hoffman felt that she would always take good care of his children so he took no steps to carve out a specific bequest for them. These sentiments have also been echoed lately by Sting who has said that he is not leaving anything to his children in order to insure that they will have to make their own way in the world without relying on his substantial wealth.

How will all of this work out? Considering that Hoffman died with a needle in his arm. we can only hope for the best for his children.

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Appellate Division Rules On Application To Revoke Letters Testamentary

The Appellate Division of the Second Department has recently denied a motion to immediately suspend Letters Testamentary in the Matter of Mercer (2014 NY Slip Op 05186). SCPA 711 and 719 provide that the Surrogate may suspend or revoke letters where there is proof of a serious breach of fiduciary duty. This involved the improper conversion of tangible property held by the executor. The appellate court opined that:
"[w]hile the Surrogate is clearly granted the exceptional authority to summarily remove executors without the formality of commencing a separate proceeding, the authority to exercise the ultimate sanction summarily is not absolute. The Surrogate may remove without a hearing only where the misconduct is established by undisputed facts or concessions, where the fiduciary's in-court conduct causes such facts to be within the court's knowledge, or where facts warranting amendment of letters are presented to the court during a related evidentiary proceeding" (Matter of Duke, 87 NY2d at 472-473 [internal citations omitted; emphasis added])."

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Be Careful With Mom's Power Of Attorney

A power of attorney is a powerful document posing some danger to the holder. It is common to receive a power of attorney from an aging parent or relative in order to help them handle their personal affairs. In effect, it allows the holder to stand in the shoes of the giver and act as though he or she was that person as far as the outside world is concerned, but a world of trouble lies in wait for the unfortunate who fails to properly use the power.

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When You Get A Waiver In The Mail

In order to commence estate proceedings, it is first necessary that all persons essential to the estate receive notice. This would include any person named in the will or anyone who would have standing to object to the will. If there is no will, it would include all distributees -- next of kin who would inherit pursuant to intestacy. In order to streamline the proceedings , a lawyer representing the petitioner seeking to be either the executor or administrator will start by mailing a waiver to every necessary person .

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A Primer On The Residuary Clause

Every will drafted by an attorney is almost certain to have a residuary clause. This is an essential catch-all provision inserted to make sure that assets go where they are supposed to go. Here is an article by Dennis Fordham in the Lake County (California) News which provides useful information on  this important provision of a will.

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Four Boneheaded Things Not To Do If You Are Making A Will

Your will should not be a do it yourself project. Here are some things to avoid doing when it comes to your will.

1. Do not make changes to your existing will by crossing out provisions and inking in your own new ones. In New York, the probate clerk will examine a will for alterations. A provision which has been stricken from the will with a new term inserted by pen or pencil will simply be ignored in favor of the original. If a portion of the will is blacked out with a marker, the entire will is going to be invalidated and the testator will be intestate.

2. Never make a copy of your signed will. This is an invitation to mischief after you are gone since a photocopy can ultimately be admitted to probate. This can lead to a situation where an interested, if less than honest relative may find both the photocopy together with the original of your latest will. If the photocopy treats that person better than your later will.....just guess which is the one to actually be brought to a lawyer to be offered for probate!

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Murdered Businessman Leaves Widow, Seven Children And No Will

Today's Daily News reports that Menachem Stark, a Brooklyn businessman and landlord who was murdered in January died intestate. While it appears that his partners may contribute to cover his substantial debts in a bankruptcy proceeding, his failure to have a Will can only add to the financial distress of his widow and seven children. Even if the estate is able to weather the bankruptcy, intestacy will limit his widow to an ultimate recovery of half his estate with each of his children recovering one seventh of the other half at age eighteen, subject to the fees that will be generated by court-appointed lawyers who will be needed to serve as guardians ad litem of the children. The addage that "man plans and G*D laughs" takes on a new and bitter meaning in this case which can only serve as a warning to put one's financial house in order.

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Times Features Comprehensive Article on Trusts

The New York Times has published a rather comprehensive, if brief, overview of trusts. For those of you who find all of the acronyms we use to describe various trusts, this may prove to be very helpful.

your  lawblogger would add a little postscript to this article with regard to the issue of whether of not you are considering naming a bank as your trustee. First of all, this should not even be considered if your trust is not worth at least several million dollars. You should also consider that once you appoint a bank to serve as your trustee, this appointment will be more or less written in stone after you have passed away and the trust is established and funded. The problem is that we tend to select a bank based upon the quality of its trust department. The trust officer who has attracted you to the bank when your trust is drafted may well be long retired when the trust is funded. The quality of a trust department may decline as well so you will never be assured that your heirs will have the benefit of the counsel of the bank/trustee you select for them today. For a high net worth trust, best to spend time with your financial advisor and pick the trustee or trustees best suited for you in the long run.

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Public Administrator Sues Beth Israel Hospital For 100 Million Dollars On Behalf of Hugette Clark Estate

For some time we have been following the bizarre story of Hugette Clark, the reclusive mining heiress who died in 2011 at the age of 104. She had lived for years in Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan, running up hospital bills in the millions even though there was evidently nothing remarkably amiss with her health. During this time, hospital officials ingratiated themselves with her and received gifts in excess of 40 million dollars.

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Mother Denied Recovery Of Damages For Children She Killed

Newsday reports that Nassau County Surrogate Edward T  McCarty III has denied the application of Leatrice Brewer  for a share of damages recovered from the county for negligence of the Department of Social Services in failing to prevent her drowning her three young children.

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