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Probate Wars of the Rich and Famous: An Insider's Guide to Estate Planning and Probate Litigation

ISBN: 978-0-470-58593-1
257 pages
September 2011
Probate Wars of the Rich and Famous: An Insider
Surrogate Court dockets are filled with cases involving family members fighting over the assets and intentions of a deceased parent or spouse. Probate Wars of the Rich & Famous: An Insider’s Guide to Estate Planning and Probate Litigation tracks the estate litigation cases of Anna Nicole Smith, Brooke Astor, Michael Jackson, Nina Wang, Jerry Garcia and Leona Helmsley and identifies the five universal factors that caused such disputes. Each chapter provides estate planning insights designed to help individuals plan their estates without causing litigation. If, however, probate litigation cannot be avoided, the book also provides invaluable lessons about undue influence claims, how to remove a fiduciary, demanding an estate accounting and claims seeking to set aside lifetime transfers that undermined the decedents intentions. Few - if any – estate planning books utilize colorful celebrity accounts to provide meaningful insights and actionable advice.
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Acknowledgments xi

About the Author xiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Legacy of a Lifetime 5

Legacy Lesson #1: The Estate Planning Effect 9

Legacy Lesson #2: Passing the Torch without Getting Burned 10

Legacy Lesson #3: The Holistic Approach 11

Legacy Lesson #4: Dropping the Gauntlet 12

Chapter 2 Stripping and Being Stripped 13

Legacy Lesson #5: The Elective Share and Prenuptial Agreement 27

Legacy Lesson #6: Providing Equitably Both for a Second Spouse and Children from a Prior Marriage 28

Legacy Lesson #7: Disinheriting a Family Member 30

Chapter 3 The Astor Disaster: A Legacy of Influence and Undue Influence 33

Legacy Lesson #8: Monitor the Health and the Wealth of a Loved One Who Is Ill and Vulnerable 79

Legacy Lesson #9: Anatomy of a Contested Estate 88

Legacy Lesson #10: Influence or Undue Influence? 91

Legacy Lesson #11: By Gift or by Theft? 94

Legacy Lesson #12: Time in a Bottle—Good Days and Bad Days 97

Legacy Lesson #13: Protecting against Fraud 99

Chapter 4 The Benevolent Queen of Mean 105

Legacy Lesson #14: Protect the Pooch 119

Legacy Lesson #15: The Grim Reaper's Silver Lining 124

Legacy Lesson #16: A Generation Skipped 127

Legacy Lesson #17: Buried, But Not Resting Peacefully 129

Legacy Lesson #18: The Mission Statement: A Legacy Builder or Buster 134

Chapter 5 A Sweet and Sour Legacy 139

Legacy Lesson #19: A Stitch in Time Saves Nine 148

Legacy Lesson #20: Respecting the Formalities of a Will Signing 149

Legacy Lesson #21: Clarity versus Ambiguity 150

Legacy Lesson #22: Videotaping a Will Signing 151

Chapter 6 Is This It? 153

Legacy Lesson #23: Raising Helen 168

Legacy Lesson #24: If You Want Privacy, Use a Revocable Trust 170

Legacy Lesson #25: The Business of the Business 171

Chapter 7 Lessons from the Dead 183

Legacy Lesson #26: A Legacy in the Hands of Fiduciaries 200

Legacy Lesson #27: Heirlooms Can Define a Legacy 202

Chapter 8 At the End of the Day 205

Appendix A Fact Sheet for Last Will and Testament 209

Appendix B Probate Litigation Fact Sheet 221

Bibliography 229

Index 251

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Russell J. Fishkind is a Partner in the Personal Wealth, Estates and Trusts Department at Saul Ewing LLP, where he focuses on high net worth estate planning, business succession planning, estate administration, and probate litigation. He is also an Associate Adjunct Professor at New York University, where he teaches estate and business succession planning. Fishkind is the author of Legacy of a Lifetime, coauthor of the J.K. Lasser Pro Estate and Business Succession Planning (first and second editions) textbook, and a contributing author to Sophisticated Estate Planning: Using Tax Laws to Your Clients' Advantage published by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education. He was recognized as a Super Lawyer in 2005, 2007 and 2009.
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