Anyone who’s ever been through a court battle over a trust or estate knows how important it is for everyone involved. But some cases carry more importance than others. The recently-resolved case of Cobell vs. Salazar has as much importance to our nation as any trust fight has ever had.
Elouise Cobell is the lead plaintiff in a class action suit against The United States Secretary of the Interior. The lawsuit involves the rights of Native Americans under Individual Indian trusts that began under laws passed in 1887. At that time, tribal lands of Native Americans were parceled out by the government and assigned to individuals, in lots between 40 and 160 acres in size.
But the individual Native Americans weren’t allowed to actually own the land. The government did, leasing the lands for mineral and grazing rights, among other uses, and paying the proceedings into a series of informal trusts. The United States Secretary of the Interior was charged with administering the trusts for the benefit of the individuals Read more...
It's been almost a year since The Probate Lawyer Blog featured a story on the court battle over whether the heiress to the L'Oreal fortune has been a victim of fraud and exploitation. 87-year old Liliane Bettencourt has been called Europe's richest woman. In the article I wrote last December, I explained how Bettencourt's daughter, Francois Bettencourt Meyers, sued to prove that a celebrity photographer had received gifts from the elder Bettencourt of more than one billion dollars by preying on her mental frailty.
The gift recipient, Francois-Marie Banier, and Bettencourt said she was competent and made the gifts of her own free will because they were dear friends. And yes, they said, it's a lot of money, but considering her fortune has been recently valued at $13 billion (U.S. value) by Forbes, it's not that much money. (Anyone buy that?)
I had suggested last year that I found it odd that Meyers hadn't started a guardianship proceeding to have her mother declared legally incompetent. Well, now she has Read more...
Across the country in December, families will be coming together for the holidays. Sometimes the holidays are one of the few times of year that family members see each other. They eat, share stories, and laugh together. Of course, there may be a few family squabbles, but hopefully no mashed-potato flinging. Or will there be? Overall, the holidays are rare opportunities for family members to have face-to-face conversations. One critical conversation is talking about estate planning — what happens legally when a loved one passes away.
What questions will these tips help you answer?
What will happen once mom and dad pass away?
Have they done their will or trust? Is it updated?
What professionals do they work with?
Where are the documents located?
The celebrity stories in “Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!” can help you translate the estate planning talk into a fun and entertaining discussion. Really! Here are some easy-to-use tips and conversation starters taken from the stories in Trial & Heirs Read more...