Category Archives: Dementia

Etta James Estate: Others Remind of Need for Estate Planning in 2012

A few weeks into the new year, how many of your New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside?  Exercise more. Eat less.  Spend more quality time with family.

Well it’s not too late to tackle a very important resolution that up to two-thirds of adults in our country ignore — estate planning. That’s right, it’s the topic no one likes to think about, but everyone knows they should take care of … wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and more.

It doesn’t have to be intimidating! In fact, celebrity stories are a great way to break the ice to remind everyone of what they need to do.

So, with the help of some recent stories in the news, here are Trial & Heirs: New Years Estate Planning Resolutions for 2012.  (We just gave an interview discussing some of these stories, which you can watch here).

The Estate Of Etta James

1.  Plan Now and Don’t Procrastinate.

R&B legend Etta James was 72 when she passed away last week, Read more...

| Leave a comment

Five Reasons To Beware Of Joint Ownership Between Generations

Celebrities are not the only ones to make mistakes with their estate planning.  It happens to people all across the country on a regular basis.  The end result — just like with the rich and famous — often is an ugly and expensive family fight in court.  One of the most common estate planning mistakes that people make is joint ownership.  estate planning

For the most part, we’re not talking about when a husband and wife have joint bank accounts or the title to their home is held in both of their names.  While not ideal for estate planning, this is quite common and can often be used without problems, except in many second-marriage situations or large estates that may suffer adverse tax consequences.

The area where we see significant problems, however, is when a parent adds a child’s name to an asset, such as a bank account, investment, or real estate.  This is often done to help with bill paying, as a will-substitute to avoid probate court (often called a “poor-man’s Read more...

| Leave a comment

Family of Zsa Zsa Gabor Feuds as She Nears Death

Zsa Zsa Gabor, who appeared in dozens of movies and television shows throughout a career that spanned five decades, is approaching the end. She has a feeding tube, can hardly tell when she’s at home or in the hospital, and is barely able to communicate. According to a recent Associated Press story, she’s been admitted to the hospital nearly two dozen times since last summer, and she recently was in a coma.

Sadly, her final days are surrounding by fighting, between her husband of 25 years and her only daughter. Frederic Prinz von Anhalt is her ninth husband, and he’s been her devoted caregiver and says he is constantly by her side. Gabor’s daughter, Francesca Hilton (yes, from that Hilton family), tells a different story of Von Anhalt. She says he doesn’t let her visit her mother, won’t update her about her medical condition, and that she learned of a recent hospitalization from a reporter, since Von Anhalt won’t talk to her.

Hilton says she wants to see her mother Read more...

| 2 Comments

Do Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen Need Conservatorships?

It seems that conservatorships may become a new trend to help wild and out-of-control celebrities in Hollywood.

It sure helped Britney Spears.  After her escapades of a hairless head, posing for the paparazzi with no panties, and excessive partying and drinking, her father, James Spears, filed for conservatorship.  This allowed him to become her legal decision-maker and help turn her life and career around.Lindsay-lohan-mugshot

Then came talk of a conservatorship for Lindsay Lohan.  She’s had multiple DUI arrests and been sentenced to jail time and rehab, more than once.  Most recently, she’s facing a possible felony sentence for allegedly lifting a diamond necklace from a jewelry store.

A few months ago, Lindsay bristled at the reports that her father was attempting to file for conservatorship over her.  Michael Lohan did not end up filing the court case, but with this latest criminal trouble, can another attempt be far off?

Most recently, Martin Sheen and his wife are said to be considering filing for conservatorship for Charlie Sheen.  With the recent Read more...

| Leave a comment

Dementia of Jazz Singer Etta James Sparks Family Fight

Famed R&B/Blues/Jazz singer Etta James, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member whose biggest hit was At Last, now suffers from advanced dementia (likely Alzheimer’s disease) and leukemia.  According to her doctor, she can’t sign her own name and needs help even with basic life functions like eating, dressing and hygiene.  Etta is only 72 years old.  Etta-james

To make matters worse, her mental incapacity has sparked a family squabble that has led to a lawsuit.  Her husband of 41 years, Artis Mills, filed a court proceeding to take control of about one million dollars of bank accounts in Etta’s sole name.  Mills says he needs to money to pay for her care and keep her at home, rather than in a nursing home.  In most states, this would be done through a conservatorship proceeding (called “guardianship of the estate” in some states).

Since California is a community-property state, and because Mills is the spouse, his lawyer instead opted to file a separate lawsuit which asks for Etta’s money

Read more...
| Leave a comment

Dementia claims baseball legend Sparky Anderson

Former baseball manager George “Sparky” Anderson, a Hall of Fame coach who led both the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds to World Series titles, died on November 4, 2010 because of complications from dementia.  He was 76 years old.  Sparky was a truly-beloved sports figure who will be sorely missed, as described in this article from the Detroit Free Press. Sparky

His death comes during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month.  Dementia is most often caused by Alzheimer’s disease and is a growing epidemic in our country.  In fact, every 70 seconds, someone else in America develops Alzheimer’s disease.  It now affects over 5.3 million Americans.

When families have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, good estate planning becomes even more important.  Often, people with early stages of dementia can still do the proper legal planning and protect their financial affairs.

Other times, seniors with Alzheimer’s or similar conditions are targeted by unscrupulous family members, caregivers, or others who improperly influence them to change their wills, trusts, Read more...

| Leave a comment

Judge rules that Feng Shui Master forged Nina Wang’s will

The Nina Wang case captivated Asia in much the same way the Brooke Astor case made headlines in New York last year.  Only, instead of questions surrounding whether a multi-millionaire’s will was invalid, the Nina Wang case involved whether Tony Chan Chun-chuen forged the will of Asia’s richest woman, to the tune of about thirteen billion dollars, according to some estimates.  She died at age 69 in 2007.

The case raged for months, and The Probate Lawyer Blog featured several articles about it.  The Hong Kong judge carefully deliberated since closing arguments took place in late September.  Earlier today, the High Court released the 326-page ruling that declared Wang’s 2006 will to be a forgery.

Nina Wang case
Tony Chan contended that Wang had left him her fortune because, rather than being a mere feng shui adviser for her, he was also her secret lover.  Of course, he was married during the affair.  And he was 20 years younger than she was.

Lawyers for the Wang family and charities (the vast majority Read more...

| 2 Comments

The wars over the final wishes of Bill Davidson & Mel Simon

William Davidson and Melvin Simon had a lot in common.  Both were billionaires and both were Jewish.  Simon built his fortune through the country’s biggest shopping mall company, Simon Property Group, and Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.3 billion.  Davidson led Guardian Industries Corp., one of the world’s largest glass suppliers, and had a fortune recently tabbed at $4.5 billion.

They also each owned NBA franchises in the midwest.  Davidson owned the Detroit Pistons (yeah!), while Simon co-owned the rival Indiana Pacers (boo!) with his brother, Herbert Simon.

Both men died last year, with Davidson passing away at age 86 in March and Simon passing in October, at age 82.  And both were survived by spouses as well as children from prior marriages.

And, in both instances, the spouse and the children from the prior marriage did not see eye to eye.  Because of that, both the Davidson Estate and Simon Estate are mired in lawsuits about the true wishes of the beloved billionaires.

In Davidson’s case, there are Read more...

| Leave a comment