Estate

Charles Manson’s Grandson Ramps Up Fight for Serial Killer’s Remains, Estate

Almost two months after his death, the legal battle for the estate of Charles Manson continues. Manson, who died from acute cardiac arrest complicated by a battle with colon cancer on Nov. 29, 2017, allegedly has two wills, each leaving his estate to a different person. Jason Freeman, the son of the late Charles Manson Jr. and the grandson of Manson and his first wife, Rosalie Willis, filed documents with the Los Angeles County probate court on Jan. 12, seeking control of his grandfather’s estate, further complicating the dispute.
 
While the value of Manson’s estate is unknown, he has written songs recorded by big-name musicians such as the Beach Boys and Guns N’ Roses. Manson also received royalties from a clothing company for a t-shirt bearing his likeness. It might take a few weeks for a judge to decide who will control Manson’s estate, as a venue for the case has yet to be determined. On Jan. 26, a judge will decide on the proper venue for the next court hearing.
 
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Don't Forget– Estate Planning & Probate Forum 2018 This Friday!

The Tennessee Bar Association will host the 2018 Estate Planning & Probate Forum at the Embassy Suites in Franklin on Friday. This event provides six hours of CLE, including an hour of dual credit, and will be focused on timely, relevant topics to help you stay on top of trends affecting this area of law. Legislative updates and the ever-popular Probate Panel will ensure that you leave with the knowledge necessary to advance your practice.
 
Do not miss this opportunity to fulfill CLE requirements while networking with attorneys who share your focus and cultivating relationships with fellow practitioners. Section members receive a discounted rate for the program. Here's the key info: 
 
When: Feb. 23, 2018; registration begins at 8 a.m., CDT
 
Where: Embassy Suites Hotel, 820 Crescent Center Dr., Franklin, TN 37067
 
Topics include:
  • Family Law Issues
  • IRA Planning and Best Practices
  • Medicare Benefits
  • Legislative Updates
  • Probate Panel
 
Speakers/Producers include:
  • Jennifer Exum, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC, Chattanooga 
  • Jeffrey Atherton, Chancery Court, Chattanooga
  • Newman Bankston, Egerton, McAfee, Armistead & Davis, Knoxville 
  • Frank Cardenas, FEDlogic LLC, Nashville 
  • Donald Farinato, Hodges, Doughty & Carson PLLC, Knoxville 
  • Sandra Garrett, The Board of Professional Responsibility, Brentwood 
  • Kathleen Gomes, Probate Court of Shelby County-Division One, Memphis
  • David Parsons, Attorney At Law, Nashville 
  • Joel Roettger, Gentry, Tipton & McLemore, Knoxville 
  • Stacy Roettger, The Trust Company of Knoxville
  • Albert Secor, Southeastern Trust Company, Chattanooga

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Legislative Updates Affecting Probate in Tennessee

Every year, some changes in the law come with the fanfare, bells and whistles of a Las Vegas jackpot win, such as no inheritance tax or no gift tax. Other revisions to the law are less obvious, but a closer look reveals the treasures to be found in their simplicity and substance. The major legislative changes that went into effect July 1, 2017, surrounding probate are of this sort, less glitz but still noteworthy. 
 
The Tennessee 110th General Assembly enacted SB 769, a bill that revises certain provisions of the probate code related to estate administration. These revisions impose additional responsibilities on the estate's personal representative for the protection and benefit of the beneficiaries. Here are a few of the hidden gems that may affect your estate or a loved one's:
 
No Hands in the Cookie Jar 
Take the case where a personal representative (an executor or administrator) files a claim against the estate for payment of a debt owed to him or her by the decedent. In the past, the notice of the filing was sent by the probate clerk only to the personal representative and his or her attorney. Now, the personal representative seeking payment must provide the probate clerk with the names and current mailing addresses of all residuary beneficiaries of the estate (whose interests will likely be diminished if the claim were awarded) so they can be notified by the clerk within five days of the filing and given the opportunity to protect their interests. [T.C.A. 30-2-313]
 
Crime (Still) Doesn't Pay 
The prior version of the "Slayer Statute" prohibited a person from inheriting from an individual that person killed, unless it was an accident or self-defense. The new version, a much more robust and detailed statute, now requires, among other things: the killer has to give up all benefits of the decedent's estate; it revokes any beneficiary designations for the killer and it eliminates any interest the killer has in real estate as a joint tenant with the decedent. [T.C.A. 31-1-106]
 
Who's Your Daddy? 
To inherit from a decedent, a child born out of wedlock must establish his or her paternity at the earlier of four months from the first publication of the notice to creditors, or one year from the father's date of death. In the case of an amorous decedent, the personal representative can now send a copy of the notice to creditors published in the local newspaper to any purported child and limit the time that child has to establish his or her parent/child relationship with the decedent. If the representative fears that children will come "out of the woodwork" after a decedent's death, this amendment provides a shortened timeframe in which a purported child must establish paternity, which is a blessing to an estate administration that could otherwise be drawn out in costly litigation. [T.C.A. 31-2-105]
 
Signin' My Life Away 
Each recipient of a specific bequest under a decedent's will must sign a receipt that is required to be filed with the probate court by the personal representative in order to close an estate administration. A seemingly innocuous revision now provides that these receipts must be notarized under penalty of perjury or otherwise sworn, where the prior version of the statute only required signatures on receipts for filing with the Court. This is to ensure that the intended recipient of a gift under a will actually receive the gift, although it could be an inconvenience to some beneficiaries. [T.C.A. 30-2-601]
 
No Hostages  
Although the Legislature now requires receipts to be notarized or otherwise sworn (see above), they also realize that some beneficiaries simply will not follow directions. In those cases, the personal representative is allowed to close an estate administration if he or she can show to the Court's satisfaction that diligent efforts have been made to obtain the required acknowledgment from a beneficiary. If the other beneficiaries agree, the estate will not be held hostage by the one recalcitrant beneficiary. [T.C.A. 30-2-601]
 
Jennifer Kent Exum is the section chair of the Tennessee Bar Association's Estate Planning and Probate Section. Exum is Of Counsel at Chambliss and has practiced law for nearly a decade, primarily in the areas of estate administration, estate planning, conservatorships, tax, estate-related litigation and general civil litigation. She holds degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Tennessee College of Law. Exum can be contacted at 423-757-0297 or jexum@chamblisslaw.com.
 
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Considering Pet Trusts

Estate planning is a complex, nuanced process, so great care must be taken in dealing with the many critical decisions involved. An often-overlooked aspect of this process is considering care for a pet in the event of the grantor’s disability or death. As animals almost completely rely on a caretaker for their basic needs, this is a truly important designation. 
 
Pet ownership helps aging humans maintain an active lifestyle and overcome feelings of loneliness and depression. Including a pet trust in one’s estate plan allows persons at every stage of life to enjoy the benefits of pet ownership while overcoming the concern many caring pet owners express, “but what if something happens to me?  Who will care for my pet then?” A pet trust can answer these questions and help assure quality care for the lifespan of the pet.
 
Animals with especially long lifespans, such as horses (average lifespan of 30 years), birds (15-60 years, depending on species), tortoises (40-100 years, depending on species), and certain other reptiles (tuataras – a type of lizard native to New Zealand –  can live more than 100 years), can benefit from having an estate plan in place that includes care of these animals.
 
When constructing a pet trust, it is important to provide funding for the long-term care of the pet. It can be wise to designate a trustee to oversee the trust funds designated for the care of the pet and a different person to serve as caretaker of the animal. In this way, sufficient checks and balances may be put in place so that adequate care of the animal is assured and the possibility of malfeasance is minimized.
 
A pet trust may be an appropriate estate planning device in any number of situations, from elderly folks with one lap pet to large animal owners who want to provide long-term care. By keeping these arrangements in mind, we can better serve our clients and the animals that depend on them.
 
Esther L. Roberts is an East Tennessee Delegate of the executive council and served as inaugural chair for the Tennessee Bar Association's Animal Law Section. Roberts is the CEO of Global IP, a law firm specializing in intellectual property and IP mediation and founder of Tennessee Pet Trusts. She holds degrees from Lipscomb University and the University of Tennessee College of Law. Roberts can be contacted at 865-607-9780 or esther@globalipam.com

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