Probate

Tom Petty's Estate in a Free Fall

The widow of Tom Petty and two of his daughters from a previous marriage are ensnared in a battle over the late rocker’s estate, the Los Angeles Times reports. Trustee Dana Petty claims that the daughters are making it difficult to carry out important decisions, requesting the court to appoint a manager tasked with oversight of the estate and require a consensus be made between all parties regarding consequential business. One of the daughters, Adria Petty, has filed her own petition regarding the widow’s failure to incorporate the musician’s “artistic properties” into an LLC that, according to the will, would be divided between the three women. Court documents also allude to solo music recorded by Petty 25 years ago, the release of which has been stymied because of the feud.

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Estate Planning & Probate Forum Packs the House

The TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section presented its annual forum to a packed house at the Embassy Suites in Franklin on Feb. 22. 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 members for their time and assistance with another remarkable forum. Stay tuned for more exciting events to come from this section, including the second annual Topgolf: Estate Planning Tee-Off on June 19.
 
OFFICERS
Michael Goode, Section Chair, Lewis Thomason, Nashville
Newman Bankston, Vice-Chair, Egerton, McAfee, Armistead & Davis, Knoxville
Jennifer Exum, Immediate Past Chair, Bahner & Stophel, Chattanooga
 
MIDDLE TENNESSEE DELEGATES
David Parsons, Attorney at Law, Nashville
Jeff Carson, Diversified Trust, Nashville
J. Barry, Elder Law of Middle Tennessee, Lebanon
Paul Hayes, Howard Mobley Hayes & Gontarek, Nashville
 
WEST TENNESSEE DELEGATES
Chris Coats, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, Memphis
 
EAST TENNESSEE DELEGATES
Angelia Nystrom, University of Tennessee Foundation, Knoxville
Donald Farinato, Hodges, Doughty & Carson, Knoxville
John Billings, TCV Wealth Management, Knoxville
Victoria Tillman, McKinney & Tillman, Knoxville
 
 
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Actor Luke Perry's Estate in Good Order

Tennessee resident and 90201 actor Luke Perry, who died on March 4 after suffering a stroke, bucked the recent trend of celebrities’ who do not leave a will, Forbes reports. Perry reportedly created a will in 2015, after doctors discovered precancerous growths in a colonoscopy, leaving everything in his estimated $10 million estate to his three children. The news magazine highlights that Perry likely had an Advance Care Directive, otherwise, the decision of his family to terminate life support would have been a public battle in probate court. Perry was laid to rest on March 11 and buried just outside of his farm in Dickson County.

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Several Organizations Fight Tennessee Family Over Estate

A Tennessee family‘s estate that has been passed down through six generations has become part of a heated battle between the family and several non-profit organizations, the Tennessean reports. The last heir, Barry Blackburn Sr., died unexpectedly in 2014, with his will specifying that properties be held in a lifetime trust for his son, then passed along to that son’s children. The will also includes a provision that should Blackburn Sr.’s son die before him, the trust would pass to his sister's three children. A failure of beneficiary clause was included stating that if there were no surviving beneficiaries, the estate would be equally divided among Nashville Christian School, Harpeth Presbyterian Church, the University of Mississippi law school and Boykin Spaniel Rescue. Blackburn Sr.’s son, Christopher Blackburn, died the following year at 21, having no children. The nonprofits now argue that the will, read literally, bequeaths property to them since the son died after the father. A Mississippi judge last year sided with nieces and nephew involved, calling the matter a "scrivener's error," however, the organizations have appealed that decision. The properties, including working farms in Mississippi and Alabama and acres of property along Pickwick Lake, are worth millions and were given to the family by President Andrew Jackson.

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Estate Planning & Probate Executive Council Seeks Your Input

The TBA Estate Planning Forum 2019 is just around the corner and the Estate Planning & Probate Section Executive Council would like your input. Along with the top-notch presenters and timely topics, this program features a Clerk and Master’s panel where the clerks interact with lawyers practicing in their respective counties, and the panel answers questions from attendees. The council would like your help in predetermining topics that may be beneficial to address, or specific questions that you might have as a forum attendee. Please submit comments or ideas to Estate Planning & Probate Section Coordinator Jarod Word by Friday. All questions and comments are confidential unless otherwise specified by the author. 

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Enigmatic Howard Hughes 'Beneficiary' Dies of Cancer

The man who claimed Howard Hughes left him one-sixteenth of the Hughes estate in a mysterious handwritten will died last month of cancer, The New York Times reports. Melvin Dummar was a gas station owner in Utah when he said that he rescued Hughes from the Nevada desert. After Hughes died 9 years later, Dunmar maintained that an unknown man presented the will to him, which he then anonymously took to the Mormon Church Headquarters — that was also named as a beneficiary in the will — hoping that the church would attest to the veracity of the document.  A jury subsequently decided that the document was forged, but no one was ultimately charged with a crime. Although Dunmar received none of the Hughes fortune, Hollywood took note, retelling his story in the 1980 movie “Melvin and Howard.” Several books have also been written about the case, including one by a retired FBI agent who contends that the will was legit.

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Loudon Lawyer Found Guilty of Theft from Estate

A Loudon County lawyer has been ordered to pay back $25,000 of money he stole from a client’s estate, The News-Herald reports. Arthur Wayne Henry pleaded guilty on Dec. 10, 2018, to felony theft of property related to a probate case he oversaw since 2008, agreeing to a payment plan regarding restitution and four years unsupervised probation. Henry must pay also $500 to the 9th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office Fraud and Economic Crime Fund. He was suspended from the practice of law last April.

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Tax Changes to be Aware of in 2019

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has made sweeping changes to U.S. tax code, affecting estate planning, retirement contributions and insurance penalties. In addition, the IRS will be updating its tax brackets for 2019 to adjust them for inflation. This brief summary from CNBC puts these changes in a nutshell, offering a synopsis of issues relevant to your practice and allowing you to stay on top of these recent developments.

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Greene County Commission to Consider Resolutions Regarding Clerk and Master

The Greene County Commission will consider resolutions next week to try to quell recent controversies involving its Office of the Clerk and Master, The Daily Post-Athenian reports. Commissioner Lloyd “Hoot” Bowers has sponsored a resolution to potentially end an appeal regarding a Washington County Chancery Court lawsuit where the court ruled in favor of Greene County Clerk and Master Kay Solomon Armstrong after the commission declined to budget staff positions requested by her, with 1st Judicial District Chancellor John C. Rambo ordering Mayor David Crum to add additional employees deemed necessary by the Clerk and Master. Another resolution seeks to transfer the County’s Clerk and Master position into an elected one. The meeting will begin on Monday at 6 p.m., EST at the Greene County Courthouse.

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IRS Proposal Protects Large Gifts from Estate Tax

The IRS last week issued a proposal to suspend the estate tax on large gifts made between 2018 and 2025 that are currently exempt from the gift tax, Bloomberg reports. The proposed regulations are intended to protect those who made large gifts during a period when higher exclusion amounts applied. The IRS has scheduled a public hearing on March 19, 2019, to solicit input on the proposal. Comments can also be sent electronically via the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov (IRS REG-106706-18), or by mail at CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-106706-18), Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044.
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