Estate

Estate of Former Fox News CEO Seeks to Block Sexual Harassment Litigation

The estate of Roger Ailes, former Chairman and CEO of Fox News, doesn't want to get dragged into ongoing sexual harassment litigation, The New York Daily News reports. On Tuesday, lawyers for Ailes' wife filed paperwork in Manhattan Supreme Court to prevent former Fox News anchor Andrea Tantaros pursuit of claims against his estate. A judge had ordered in March 2017 that Tantaros' allegations against Ailes and Fox News be handled in arbitration rather than court. The latest filing includes a request to stay arbitration. Ailes, who died on May 18, 2017, was involved in a number of sexual harassment lawsuits at the time of his death.
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Tomorrow: Topgolf CLE – Estate Planning Tee-Off

Register now for the second annual TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section Topgolf: Estate Planning Tee-Off tomorrow, June 19. The program will feature 3 hours of CLE programming, focused on information relevant to new attorneys interested in Estate Planning and lawyers who desire to add this area to their practice.
 
The CLE package includes breakfast, lunch, plus two hours of Topgolf after the presentations. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to build your practice knowledge and fine-tune your drive game, all in one day! 
 
When: Wednesday, June 19, 9 a.m., CDT
Where: Topgolf Nashville, 500 Cowan Street, Nashville, TN, 37207
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D.C. Lawmakers Move to Undo Estate-tax Break

The recent overhaul of the federal tax code that doubled the exemption from the estate tax, erasing the tax liability for individuals with estates worth less than roughly $11 million is being challenged by Democratic on the Washington, D.C., council, The Washington Post reports. Their proposal, supported by a majority of D.C. council members, would cut in half the estate-tax exemption in the nation’s capital, to $5.6 million. 
 
The District had loosened its estate-tax exemption as part of wide-ranging tax cuts enacted in 2014. The cuts, funded by excess revenue, were intended to make the District more economically competitive with Maryland and Virginia. Under the new proposal, about $2.5 million of the resulting revenue would go to housing for victims of domestic violence, $1.5 million would be spent on housing vouchers and $1.25 million on education. An additional $500,000 would go to a program that helps poor families buy produce at farmers markets.
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Metro Nashville Government to Pay $300,000 in Conservatorship Suit Involving Disbarred Attorney

Metro Nashville government will pay $300,000 to settle a suit filed on behalf of a man who was cheated out of nearly $800,000 by a court-appointed conservator, reports The Tennessean. Former Nashville attorney John E. Clemmons was appointed as the conservator for William Link in 2003 and was placed in charge of Link’s estate following his death in 2004, with funds for the estate intended for allocation to Link's daughter, who has a disability. Clemmons would later plead guilty to stealing $1.3 million from wards and estates he had been appointed to oversee and protect in Davidson and Rutherford counties. He was disbarred in May 2014. After the crimes became public, attorney Paul Gontarek was appointed to replace him and subsequently filed suit against Metro government alleging that if the probate clerk had been monitoring Clemmons, the theft would not have occurred. "We are pleased with the settlement," Gontarek said, "and we appreciate the efforts of the Metro legal department to bring this matter to a conclusion."
 
Metro government, however, argued that any claim against Metro should have been filed within one year of the last time Clemmons took money from the estate, which was in April 2013. Gontarek didn't file suit against Metro until 2014. Though the circuit court accepted Metro's argument, the appeals court rejected that conclusion stating "As we understand it, Metro's defense is predicated on the notion that Mr. Clemmons could have sued for the losses to the estate that stemmed from his own malfeasance. Respectfully we find such a proposition to be absurd," Justice Arnold Goldin wrote, adding that the suit filed by Gontarek was in fact "timely." The appeals court also rejected Metro's argument that it could not be held liable because a judgment already had been issued against Clemmons for the entire loss. The panel ruled that the comparative fault principle did not apply under the facts of the case stating, "Assuming liability can be established, Metro would be liable for the entire amount of damages.”
 
A resolution authorizing the payment was approved without debate by Metro Council last week. Gontarek said that he expects the $300,000 payment to Link’s estate will be made in the near future. You can read the Court of Appeals opinion here.
 
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Another Successful Estate Planning & Probate Forum!

The TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section presented its annual forum to a packed house at the Embassy Suites in Franklin on Feb. 23. Through the dedication of the section and top-notch programming, this event has become a staple for not only estate planning and probate practitioners, but lawyers of associated practices as well. Thanks to the TBA Estate Planning & Probate Executive Council for their time and assistance with another remarkable forum. Stay tuned for more exciting events to come from this section!

OFFICERS
  • Jennifer Exum, Chair, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, Chattanooga
  • Michael Goode, Vice-Chair, Stites & Harbison, Nashville
  • Jeff Carson, Immediate Past Chair, Diversified Trust, Nashville
MIDDLE TENNESSEE DELEGATES
  • Paul Hayes, Howard Mobley Hayes & Gontarek, Nashville
  • David Parsons, Attorney at Law, Nashville
WEST TENNESSEE DELEGATE
  • Chris Coats, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, Memphis
EAST TENNESSEE DELEGATES
  • Victoria Tillman, McKinney & Tillman, Knoxville
  • Donald Farinato, Hodges, Doughty & Carson, Knoxville
  • Newman Bankston, Egerton, McAfee, Armistead & Davis, Knoxville
  • Angelia Nystrom, University of Tennessee Foundation, Knoxville

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Harper Lee’s Estate Sues Over Broadway Version of ‘Mockingbird’

The estate of Harper Lee has filed suit in Alabama federal court over producer Scott Rudin and acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s depiction of Atticus Finch in the much-anticipated Broadway adaptation of novel To Kill A Mockingbird, reports The New York Times. The complaint asserts that Sorkin’s portrayal of the iconic Atticus Finch, the crusading lawyer who represents a black man unjustly accused of rape, presents him as a man who begins the drama as a naïve apologist for the racial status quo, a depiction at odds with his purely heroic image in the novel. 
 
The contract the parties signed states that “the Play shall not derogate or depart in any manner from the spirit of the novel nor alter its characters.” Tonja B. Carter, the lawyer Lee appointed to run her estate, met with Rudin to express “serious concerns about the script,” specifically that Finch is depicted as “rude and selfish” as well as “more confrontational and far less dignified.” “This Atticus,” Carter wrote, “is more like an edgy sitcom dad in the 21st Century than the iconic Atticus of the novel.” The Rudin team is arguing that while the producers must listen to the estate’s view, they are the final arbiters of whether the production is faithful to the novel.
 
"As far as Atticus and his virtue goes, this is a different take on Mockingbird than Harper Lee's or Horton Foote's," Sorkin told New York Magazine. "He becomes Atticus Finch by the end of the play, and while he's going along, he has a kind of running argument with Calpurnia, the housekeeper, which is a much bigger role in the play I just wrote. He is in denial about his neighbors and his friends and the world around him, that it is as racist as it is, that a Maycomb County jury could possibly put Tom Robinson in jail when it's so obvious what happened here. He becomes an apologist for these people” said Sorkin.
 
This production will be the first time To Kill A Mockingbird has been performed on Broadway. The play is scheduled to open on Dec. 13. Click here to read the complaint in its entirety.
 
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Elate & Libate

The Estate & Probate section will host an "Elate & Libate" cocktail hour immediately following the Estate Planning & Probate Forum 2018 in the Embassy Suites Franklin Atrium. Join friends, colleagues and fellow section members for a drink on us!
 
What better way to relax and unwind after a full day of CLE fun. Drink tickets will be provided for TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section members. Forum participation not required to attend the happy hour. Contact Jarod Word for more info. 
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Children of Legendary Entertainers Push Elder Abuse Legislation

The children of Casey Kasem, Mickey Rooney and Glen Campbell were joined by supporters to address the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, promoting legislation protecting rights of adult children aimed at preventing elder abuse according to The Detroit News. Kerri Kasem, Kelly Rooney and Travis Campbell advised the committee on the stories surrounding the final years of their parents' lives and how this legislation might have prevented the abuse and exploitation they suffered.
 
Kerri Kasem was involved in several contentious court battles against her stepmother, Jean Thompson Kasem, for the right to see her father, the "American Top 40" host who died in 2014 of complications of Lewy Body Dementia. Since the death of her father, Kasem has made it a priority to guarantee that family members can visit ill or incompetent relatives through measures such as those being considered in Michigan. "What it would allow the judge to do is to just rule on visitation. It would put the burden of proof on the caretaker," said Kasem. "If they're not allowing visitation, they have to prove why instead of hearsay."
 
Travis Campbell said he was limited in his ability to see his father when the musician began experiencing his decline into Alzheimer's disease. Campbell had concerns about his father's health due to the 151 shows the musician was made to perform over three years, even though the entertainer felt he could not perform that many concerts. Travis was instrumental in getting lawmakers in Tennessee to pass the "Falk Act" in 2016. He said toward the end of his father's life, he was only allowed to see him for four hours twice a month. "(The bill) is not just for us, it's for everybody," said Campbell.
 
Kelly Rooney describes her isolation from her father as "slow ... gradual." Rooney maintains that her father had complained of emotional and other forms of abuse prior to his death in 2014. She became emotional when speaking about not seeing her dad for nearly two years before he died. "They withheld medication and withheld food from him," Rooney said of her father's caretakers.
 
The group, along with the Kasem Cares Foundation, plan to continue the mission in hopes that more states adopt similar legislation to protect vulnerable seniors.
 
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Estate Planning & Probate Forum Happy Hour

Join us for a happy hour immediately following the Estate Planning & Probate Forum on Feb. 23. Don't miss this opportunity to unwind while you mix and mingle with attorneys and professionals of a similar focus. Attendance at the forum is not required to attend the happy hour. TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section members will receive a drink on us! Stay tuned for more info.
 
When: Friday, Feb. 23, 4 p.m., CST
Where: Embassy Suites Hotel, 820 Crescent Center Dr., Franklin, TN 37067
 
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Glen Campbell's Longtime Publicist Subpoenaed Regarding Contested Will

The longtime publicist of Glen Campbell, who passed away from Alzheimer's Disease last year, has been subpoenaed to testify regarding the late singer's competence when he signed a now-disputed will, according to The Tennessean.

Records in Davidson County Probate Court show a subpoena has been issued for Sanford Brokaw to appear for testimony in Nashville on Feb. 20. The subpoena calls on Brokaw to "provide proof of the decedent's capacity since 2002” and submit "all communications regarding the estate of the decedent."

The contention is regarding the exclusion of three of Campbell's children, who have been cut out of his estimated $50 million estate, according to a 13-page will filed by his widow in 2006, Rolling Stone reported. The will states that he was "specifically excluding" the three children from receiving anything under the will or a related trust, and names his wife, Kim, as executor. Court records indicate there was an earlier version of Campbell's will, dated in 2002.

This was not the first interfamilial feud, as Campbell’s eldest daughter Debby and son Travis previously won a legal victory after claiming that Kim Campbell was denying them the right to visit their father during his illness. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam subsequently signed a bill into law called the Campbell / Falk Act, which allows family members and close friends of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other disabilities to visit a loved one in person, or maintain contact with them by phone, email or mail, despite the stated wishes of a legally appointed conservator.

Campbell was first diagnosed with the Alzheimer’s in 2011 and died in August 2017. A Netflix film, "I’ll Be Me", details his diagnosis, final tour and his farewell to fans.

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