Published: December 31, 2011

An article in the on-line Wealth Counsel Quarterly asks why families fight over inheritances and offers several reasons:

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Published: November 30, 2010

Apparently, Ms. Tudor had written a will leaving her copyrights and other assets to her children and a grandchild, but a subsequent will eliminated the bequest to one son, except for an antique highboy. That son may have been estranged from his mother, but he felt that his brother had exerted undue influence over their mother, causing her to change her will. The dispute ended up in court, unfortunately, but just before trial the matter was settled, to the at least expressed satisfaction of all parties.

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Published: October 21, 2010

The Employee Benefits Security Administration has proposed a definition of the term “fiduciary” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the purpose of which is to expand the protections available to retirement plan participants, to protect them in particular from conflicts of interest and self-dealing by advisors. The new rules can be accessed here: http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2010-26236_PI.pdf.

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Published: April 15, 2010

A recent news report indicates that an effort will be made to sell or recapitalize the restaurant chain Hooters, as a result of a family dispute over the will of the majority owner of the business.  (I’ve never visited one of these restaurants, but I see that their ads feature a picture of an owl, so I assume they have a library-like atmosphere.)  The report illustrates several issues in the operation of family businesses, and how a failure to plan and to consider the effect of trusts and estates law on such businesses can lead to an unfortunate result.

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Published: April 7, 2009

This might be a good time to emphasize that it’s a trust fund.

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Published: April 7, 2009

The world of estates litigation is certainly not boring. Sometimes it’s even about the money.

There are psychologists who provide a valuable service in trying to help families work through issues relating to inheritances. These kinds of issues often bring to the fore other issues that have been simmering for a while: why was one child chosen to be in the family business and another not; why one child got other advantages over a period of a lifetime; did one child plot to get on the good side of a parent to do better in the will?

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Published: June 17, 2008

The San Diego Union-Tribune has been reporting for some time on the ongoing woes plaguing that city’s retirement system. A story reported on June 14, 2008 indicates that the city had hired a large law firm to look into the problems and to represent it in an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. But, as it turned out, that created a conflict of interest- how could the law firm investigate the problem and at the same time defend the city in the SEC matter? Apparently, it could not, and the city sued the law firm for a very large sum of money.

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Published: May 23, 2007

Much has been written lately about the short and spectacular life of Anna Nicole Smith. Her recent death and its aftermath have only increased the media feeding frenzy. Rather than comment on the salacious and sordid details of Ms. Smith’s life and death, we are instead interested in what these events can teach us about estate planning and avoiding estate litigation.

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