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    Joshua and Laura Meier Newport Beach Trust and Estate Planning Attorneys Focused on Helping Families with Young Kids
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    Category Archives: Elder abuse

    Casey Kasem’s Estate Planning Not in Anyone’s Top 40

    Casey Kasem, the celebrity radio host who counted down America’s Top 40 popular songs for years, died on June 15 at the age of 82 and left behind an estimated $80 million fortune.  He also left a family feud of biblical proportions between his surviving spouse and his three children from a prior marriage.  This is why we do what we do — to keep your family out of court and connected in love, not conflict.

    Kasem married his second wife, Jean, who is 22 years his junior, in 1980.  Together, they had one child, Liberty Kasem.  Casey also had three children from a prior marriage: Kerri, Mike and Julie.  The family was apparently in discord prior to Casey’s death; in mid-May, Mike and Julie filed a missing persons case with the Santa Monica police department saying they could not locate their father.  At that time, Kerri was fighting with Jean over control of his care.

    After Kasem died, news broke that his body had been taken from the Washington state funeral home and a judge awarded Kerri a temporary restraining order preventing Jean from removing his remains or having him cremated before an autopsy had been performed.  Kerri hired a private investigator who says the body has been moved to Montreal, the hometown of a man that Jean has allegedly been involved with for the past two years.

    A mess, right?  And they haven’t even gotten to the money yet!                lawyer confused

    A little advance estate planning could have helped prevent this scenario, which is not uncommon when an older man takes a second wife who is significantly younger and has children from a prior marriage.

    A recent WSJ article outlined four estate planning tools that could have helped to head off this disaster:

    Revocable trust.  Placing assets in a revocable trust can help protect the trust owner’s wealth transfer wishes, and provides the flexibility to make changes as long as the trust owner has the legal capacity to make those decisions.  Upon the owner’s death, the assets are dispersed as outlined in the trust without having to go through probate.  A trust is also more difficult to contest than a will.

    Life insurance.   A life insurance policy can be a good way to provide for a surviving spouse while leaving the rest of the estate to children from a previous marriage, or vice versa.

    QTIP trust.  A qualified terminal interest property (QTIP) trust is used to set aside assets for a surviving spouse’s benefit while that spouse is alive.  After the surviving spouse passes, the remaining assets in the trust are passed on according to the trust terms.

    Family meeting.  Having a family meeting so that everyone knows their beneficiary status and what will happen to the estate after the estate owner dies is a good way to head off conflict.  An estate planning attorney can mediate these meetings, which is usually advisable when there is a potential for conflict.

    One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation without conflict or concern.  Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.

    Elderly Senior’s Extravagant Gifts Spark Litigation

    While clashes over who got what and how during someone's lifetime crop up in many will fights, the staggering size, two-decade timeframe, and uncommon circumstances distinguish the dispute surrounding [Huguette] Clark's gifts.

    Are you planning your estate or perhaps caring for an elderly loved one who is planning his or her own? If yes, then you can learn some important lessons from Huguette Clark’s case, as recently reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

    In the article, titled “Copper heiress' huge gifts spotlighted in NY court,” Ms. Clark was cast as either an oddball or a thoughtful “eccentric.” Such was the description of one side to the litigation over her estate. The other side, however, painted her as a “poor, manipulated old woman.” In case you haven’t followed the case, Ms. Clark was a wealthy heiress to a copper fortune, and she died recently at the age of 109 after two decades of hospitalization.

    Before dying, however, Ms. Clark gave extravagant gifts to her staff:

    Her nurse was showered with almost $28 million in gifts, including three Manhattan apartments, two homes elsewhere and a $1.2 million Stradivarius violin. Her doctors' families received more than $3 million in presents. A night nurse received a salary plus money to cover her children's school tuition and to help buy two apartments.

    Now, after her death, a court-appointed official has begun to demand the return of these gifts, valued at $37 million, to her $400 million estate. The basis for the demanded return is that the recipients received the gifts through manipulation. The case is ongoing.

    When it comes to estate planning, however, old age and wealth are a dangerous combination. Some wealthy seniors are generous by nature, but others kept the first nickel they earned. Regardless, expect extra scrutiny of any gift or inheritance from a wealthy senior when the object of such bounty is not someone with a family tie or a long relational history.

    Contact Meier Law Firm to to discuss your gifting or estate planning questions.

    Reference: The San Francisco Chronicle (June 17, 2012) “Copper heiress' huge gifts spotlighted in NY court


    On the topic of disclosures, a reader inquired about what to do about her family of eight siblings and one elderly father. Long ago the siblings got together and put two of the sisters in charge of their father, largely because his will and other directives advised as much. As a result, they were granted power-of-attorney and access to his accounts.

    Now, the reader has discovered that they aren’t forthcoming with information about their father, his care, and his finances. The reader is worried that she won’t hear anything until there’s a demand for money to care for their elderly father, and, perhaps, that the original funds weren’t adequately used.

    The response of Craig Reaves is tailored to the reader’s unique situation, but his advice is applicable for many in this same or similar position. As a preliminary caveat, there are specific state laws (i.e., like those regarding “powers of  attorney”) that govern the authority, responsibility and liability of agents and fiduciaries.

    Read Craig Reaves’ enlightening response in his original post.

    And visit Meier Law Firm to learn more.

    Laura K. Meier, Esq.

    Reference: The New York Times – The New Old Age Blog ( January 18, 2012) “Ask the Elder Law Attorney: Disclosures and Loans

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