Archive for the ‘Aging Parents’ Category

Caregivers and When to Bring in Hospice?

Thanksgiving with mom

Thanksgiving with mom

What do you do when the doctor recommends calling Hospice for your loved one?  After visiting my mom on Thanksgiving and watching her finish her entire dinner, it was shocking to visit her just a week later to find her on oxygen.  My daughters were in tears as we played a couple hands of rummy with her while I held her cards and played for her.  Just weeks ago, she had been able to play independently…plus she actually beat me at a few hands.  How does this happen so quickly?  I called her doctor, and he recommended that we contact Hospice for a consultation.

I am very familiar with Hospice.  My step-father was diagnosed with lung cancer at 86 in October 2005.  We managed to keep dad healthy and enjoying life (beating all odd, the doctor said) and finally called in Hospice in June.  Hospice was our saving grace until he died on October 24, 2006 on my birthday.  I love Hospice.  I’ll share that story with you one day…now back to mom.

Yesterday, I surprised mom on her birthday.  She is just 76 and suffering from dementia and a series of unexpected falls that have caused this sudden change in health.  She was very excited to see me with her gift and cards in hand.  She was just finishing up with her last therapy session that was related to her hospital stay and subsequent rehab stay at Fox Run.  It gets complicated, doesn’t it?

I have been crying on and off every day and feeling this pit inside my stomach since I realized that my mom really is declining.  I have been asking myself did we do all that we could have, did I choose the right doctors, what chould I have done differently?  It’s funny how we do this to ourselves.  I am sure I am not alone with these types of feelings, right?

When I look into my mom’s eyes now she seems to be telling me all is fine and she is ready to go and be with Dale (my step father), and her mom, dad, bothers, and Aunt Madge.  She smiles all the time and is just happy to be with me and grateful for the moments of time we have together right now.

I am calling Hospice tomorrow as her doctor has recommended.  It seems so final, but I know it’s the right thing to do.  What are your feelings about Hospice?  Thank you for your support right now…and I send my love to all of those who are going through this same process right now.  Feel free to share your thoughts…

Caregiving and Gratitude

Yesterday I visited my mother at Sunrise Assisted Living.  She had just moved over to their Reminiscence – dementia section.  At first I was worried that she would not like it, but after visiting, I found that the homey setting which resembles a very large open kitchen, dinning and living area was perfect for individuals at this level of need.

About six weeks ago, my mom had a short stay in the hospital and than spent three weeks in rehab at Fox Run, an Ericson Facility, my mother spent her days in bed, often in a hospital gown.  Although their nurses and care was excellent, my mom was bored and sleep most of the time.  At Sunrise, she is up and dressed, her hair and nails are done every Thursday.  They even gave her a pedicure.

I visited mom yesterday, and she looked beautiful…she could not get the smile off her face.  She loves her new room and we even played a game of cards.  It’s amazing how lucid she was after my experience last week when she barely recognized me.

Today while I was preparing turkey dinner, my brother ran over to see mom and had a Thanksgiving lunch with her.  I even received a call from her nurse giving me an update on her condition.  She said mom would not be able to travel to our home today, but she was doing much better after the “house call” from the Sunrise physician.

My heart goes out to all these wonderful caregivers.  Thankyou for giving your lives in the service of others so our loved ones can maintain their dignity and quality of life.

Reminiscence

Caregiving Dilemma: dehydration, over medication or what?

As a caregiver to my mom, I am forced with a huge dilemma right now.  A week ago, I went to visit my mom at Sunrises Assisted Living.  She was still in bed at 10 am.  Recently, she has been wanting to sleep.  She was excited to see me when I woke her up, so I helped her with her shower, and then helped her get dressed.  I was shocked to see how much she deteriorated in her abilities to manage on her own and it puzzled me.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

 

How could my mom be experiencing such huge changes in her physcial and mental abilities so quickly and what could I do about it.  I decided to spend a few hours with her to see how she was managing her daily activities.

I took her to the dinning room and asked the chef to prepare scrambled eggs, toast, OJ and coffee.  When it came out, not only was it delicious, but I was thrilled too see my mom devour every last bite.  She had no problem managing her breakfast independently and we had a great time together.

Next, I invited her to play rummy and she was thrilled.  We started playing in the bistro, and soon we had a full table of other players.  Mom played quite well.  The only issue was that I had to remind here when it was her turn.

One week later, last Saturday evening, I stopped over to say goodnight and to my horror, my mother was in here wheel chair, looking off into space with a dazed look.  She did not recognize me, and could not speak or move her legs.  What was going on?  I pulled out one of her photo albums, and began to show her pictures asking her who these people were.  When I showed her a picture of herself, she replied, “Mum-ma”, like a talking doll.  When I asked her to identify her recently deceased husband — my stepfather –she  replied, “Pa-pa”.

I called the attendants in to help my mom to bed…and left in tears.  What was going on?  One thing I noticed is that my mother seemed very dehydrated, so I called the nurse and requested that they monitor her food andn water intake and make sure she is given water regularly with a straw as if she was in a hospital.

I noticed that she even had a problem swallowing the water and pills that night…and I was told that she has lost interest in eating.

What does a daughter do at this point?  What do you do when a loved one is unable or unwilling to feed themselves and begins to refuses food?

Please share your stories and experiences with me for my upcoming book with co-author and Legacy Expert, Meredith Bromfield called, The Designated Daughter:  Caregiving and Legacy Planning.   Thank you.

Farrah Fawcett’s Trust provides a good lesson

It’s been widely reported across various websites in the last couple days that Farrah Fawcett’s will has been revealed and it “shockingly” disinherited her longtime ex-boyfriend Ryan O’Neal (father to her son, Redmond).  These reports are wrong on several levels. First, the document was her Trust, not her will.  You can read it here , courtesy of Radaronline.com.  This is an important distinction.  Wills are public records and must always be filed in probate to be effective, which allows anyone interested to read them.  Trusts, on the other hand, are private documents, normally kept out of court and the public eye. As I wrote in this article this past July, the contents of Fawcett’s Trust were leaked by an anonymous “source” then, and now the whole trust document has been revealed.  This is unusual.  Normally that is one of the primary reasons why trusts are used, to keep affairs private (and out of probate court). As the source previously leaked to the media (and as covered in my article on this blog in July), it was  revealed then that Ryan O’Neal was not a beneficiary.  So the recent exposure of the trust document is nothing new on that front.  O’Neal said publicly that he was not surprised and had discussed with Fawcett that their son Redmond would be the biggest beneficiary. So what did the trust reveal?  The real surprising part here isn’t that O’Neal was omitted (ex-boyfriends aren’t usually included in a trust).  Rather, to me…

It’s been widely reported across various websites in the last couple days that Farrah Fawcett’s will has been revealed and it “shockingly” disinherited her longtime ex-boyfriend Ryan O’Neal (father to her son, Redmond).  These reports are wrong on several levels.
First, the document was her Trust, not her will.  You can read it here, courtesy of Radaronline.com.  This is an important distinction.  Wills are public records and must always be filed in probate to be effective, which allows anyone interested to read them.  Trusts, on the other hand, are private documents, normally kept out of court and the public eye.

As I wrote in this article this past July, the contents of Fawcett’s Trust were leaked by an anonymous “source” then, and now the whole trust document has been revealed.  This is unusual.  Normally that is one of the primary reasons why trusts are used, to keep affairs private (and out of probate court).

As the source previously leaked to the media (and as covered in my article on this blog in July), it was  revealed then that Ryan O’Neal was not a beneficiary.  So the recent exposure of the trust document is nothing new on that front.  O’Neal said publicly that he was not surprised and had discussed with Fawcett that their son Redmond would be the biggest beneficiary.

So what did the trust reveal?  The real surprising part here isn’t that O’Neal was omitted (ex-boyfriends aren’t usually included in a trust).  Rather, to me, there were far more surprising elements, including that another of Fawcett’s ex-boyfriends, Gregory Lawrence Lott, received $100,000.  Further, her artwork was left to the University of Texas, her other personal property, including her household furnishings and vehicles, went to her nephew (who also received $500,000 outright), and her father received a trust fund of $500,000, from will benefit him while he is alive.  Fawcett’s charitable foundation is also a prominent beneficiary.

Who will manage this trust?  Fawcett’s business manager and producer, Richard Francis.  He will be charged with the difficult task of overseeing these bequests — and more importantly — the trust fund established for Fawcett’s troubled son, Redmond.

It has been widely reported that Redmond has struggled with drug addiction for years.  Fawcett obviously knew this when she created this particular trust document on August 9, 2007.  So, instead of leaving him money outright, she left $4.5 million to be used for his benefit through a trust fund.  When he passes away, what is left from that fund will go onto her charitable foundation.

The specifics of how this will work are a good lesson for others to follow when they have a beneficiary who is not ready to receive a chunk of change all at once.  The trustee of the Trust, Francis, will be required to pay the income from the trust fund to Redmond — or apply it for his benefit — at least 4 times year, and as often as monthly.  If this $4.5 million is conservatively invested to generate even a modest 5% return, this would mean almost $19,000 per month would be available for Redmond, without ever spending any of the $4.5 million itself.

Francis can also tap into the $4.5 million itself for Redmond, but only to the extent it is advisable for his health.  This means the money (again, other than the interest earned) cannot be used for things like education, housing, etc. — only health.  Clearly, Fawcett thought this through, because she gave the same trustee rights to use the trust fund money set aside for Fawcett’s father for many other needs beyond just health.

This trust provision allows Francis to carefully control the money so Redmond is benefited the best way possible.  And, for a drug addict like he is reported to be, this means Francis can spend as much as he deems advisable for rehabilitation (which would clearly improve Redmond’s health), without paying anything directly to him for fear of it being spent on drugs, etc.

The only flaw I see in the plan is that Francis is obligated to pay the interest on Redmond’s behalf at least 4 times each year.  This is still quite a significant sum of money to be spent on him, if his life isn’t in a position to benefit by it.  Plus, it is odd that things like education and housing wouldn’t be included, but that appears to be what Fawcett wanted.

Often, in my law firm, we recommend crafting specific trust provisions for people with drug and/or alcohol addictions that requires them to prove sobriety before receiving money, or tying other specific strings to distributions of money so that this goal can be achieved (such as requiring payments for drug rehabilitation programs).

The beauty of properly-used trusts is that you can be creative and use conditions like this for all sorts of reasons, in addition to sobriety, including promoting hard work, maintaining good relationships, education, and many other goals.  We explore how trusts can do this in our book, Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!, which helps families learn from celebrity errors how to properly plan for their heirs.

Fawcett gets a lot of credit for using a trust the right way to protect her son and still allow him to benefit from her money.  Too many rich and famous people don’t do this.  For example, as we discuss in Trial & Heirs, celebrities such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Jimi Hendrix, Sonny Bono, and Howard Hughes didn’t even have wills, much less trusts.

Trusts are not just for rich people.  Anyone with family members they want to leave money to when they die, but are worried what the money may do to them when they get it, should strongly consider creating a revocable living trust with the help of a good estate planning attorney.

Not sure how to find a good attorney?  Click here for a new way to help you.

Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and http://www.brmmlaw.com/ in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.

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Farrah Fawcett’s Trust provides a good lesson

Bo Schembechler’s son sues his stepmom over trust

Glenn E. “Bo” Schembechler, Jr., is one of the most respected names in the history of college football.  And, no, I’m not saying that just because I graduated from the University of Michigan (twice).  He built one of the most successful football programs around, and it excelled for decades. Coach Bo died of heart disease on November 17, 2006, at age 77.

He was survived by his second wife, Kathryn, his son, Glenn III, and two children of his beloved first wife, Millie, whom Bo had adopted (a third adopted son died before him). From an estate planning perspective, Bo did everything right to avoid a family fight after he passed.  He created a living trust, which was quite detailed and left the income from his assets to his wife, Kathryn, passing from there to his son Glenn III (known as “Shemy”), and then onto his grandchildren and Kathryn’s grandchildren.  He chose Kathryn as his successor trustee to manage his trust after he passed.

As part of this responsibility, Kathryn was required to furnish reports four times each year to Bo’s son, Shemy.  Recently, Shemy sued Kathryn in federal court in Columbus, Ohio (home to the school which was Bo’s chief rival, which shall remain nameless here).  Shemy alleged she hadn’t furnished the reports as required by the trust and Ohio law.   It appears, according to Shemy’s attorneys, that Kathryn hasn’t shared any financial information with him since Bo died almost three years ago.  The lawsuit includes a letter written  football programs around, and it excelled for decades.

Coach Bo died of heart disease on November 17, 2006, at age 77.  He was survived by his second wife, Kathryn, his son, Glenn III, and two children of his beloved first wife, Millie, whom Bo had adopted (a third adopted son died before him).

Continued here: Bo Schembechler’s son sues his stepmom over trust

Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and http://www.brmmlaw.com/ in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.

Selecting a Long Term Care Facility with Long Term Care Insurance

My mother, Rose, painting with Dementia

My mother, Rose, painting with Dementia

My mom is back at Sunrise Assisted Living and is thrilled to be back home. The only problem she has been facing currently, is that she is now what they call, “a fall risk”. In fact, since she returned home from rehab at Fox Run, she has fallen four times. This means that her level of care is going up and so will her monthly costs. I have a dilemma to deal with. Since my mother has a long term care policy that pays $90/day for an assisted living facility and $150/day for a skilled care facilitity, my question is: Should I move mom to a skilled facility and collect the extra $60/day benefit or $1800/month for her, or do I use her savings to make up the difference in rent?

Sunrise is not considered a Skilled Care Facility, so the most my mother can receive from her policy is 60% of her monthly $150/day benefit. If she were to move to a Skilled Care Facility like Fox Run (owned by Erikson), for example, she could receive the $150/day. Another issue: Fox Run also requires a $100,000 deposit to move in. Not all facilities do this, however, the deposit is returned to the resident when they leave, OR to their estate when they died. Plus there is an added benefit. The resident will never be forced to leave because they run out of money. Once the deposit is used up, the facility takes care of their expenses.

There is a lot to consider, right? My mom spent three weeks at Fox Run in rehabilitation and what I found is they are an excellent medical model facility. The care, however, is totally different than where she currently lives. Fox Run provides a “Medical Model” of care and Sunrise follows a “Social Model”. While my mom was at Fox Run, she was bored and spent all her time in her bed sleeping. Now that I have brought her home to Sunrise, she has spent her days dressed, socializing and very active. We both like the model so much better.

Be sure to consider this when you are looking for a long term care facility for your loved one. It’s amazing not only how many choices there are, but also how the type of facility you select can affect your long term care policy. Let me explain.

When my step father was diagnosed with lung cancer and my mother with Dementia in the fall of 2005, they moved from their private home to an “Independent Retirement Community”. Here they had a two bedroom apartment and even though they had a kitchen in their apartment, lunch and dinners were provided in a beautiful formal dining room with the other residents. When my father became very ill, the facility actually managed the medications and helped with custodial care for an additional fee. He paid for his expenses out of pocket, and then applied to his long term care policy for some small “home care benefits” that the policy provided.

While they were living in an “Independent Living Facility”, my mother was diagnosed with Dementia and qualified for benefits under her long term care policy. The problem we found out was that Independence Village was neither an Assisted Living Facility or Skilled Care Facility even though they had full time nursing staff. It actually had something to do with the construction of the building!

At this point, although my step-father qualified for his long term care benefits, we would have had to move him a new facility to collect his long term care policy benefits. We decided that peace of mind (staying in place) was more important that collecting insurance benefits during his final nine months of life. Had we known about this issue in advance, we would have selected another facility that offered multiple levels of care. This is a good thing to consider before selecting a facility when you own a long term care policy.

So when my step-father passed away, I moved mom to my house temporarily and began to look for a long term care facility that would work best for her situation. This is when we chose Sunrise. The West Bloomfield Facility was just 10 minutes away and she woudl have a wonderful studio apartment, three meals a day and lots of social activities. Her policy would pay 60% of her long term care policy daily benefit which was $150/day.

So this is where mom stands today: She is moving to another wing of Sunrise where they offer a much higher level of care AND she will not be in a nursing home envirnoment. Instead, she will remain very active and spend her days with the other residents in a “home style” area and just go to her room to nap or sleep at night.

Her rent, however will jump from $4800/month to $6330/month. Again, I can collect another $1800/month for her by moving to a Skilled Nursing Facility, but she would be back to the Medical Model. I have decided to run a financial time line to compare the difference between moving and staying to see how long her money will last both ways. And I have also put her on a list to move to the first semi private room when it becomes available. This will save her around $1200/month.

So the question is would you rather be in a Medical Model Skilled Cafe Facility collecting $150/day benefit (probably still in a shared room), or would you rather be in a very large “studio apartment” style shared room in a Social Model Facility for $600 more per month? My choice is the social model. We will start out paying around $6000/month initially for a private room, and then around $5000/month as soon as a semi private room is available. This sounds like a reasonable solution.

My mother is very fortunate. Because she and my step-father came to me for financial planning right after they were married 20 years ago, they were able to do a financial and estate plan when many options were available and insurance costs wereaffordable.

My mother’s long term care policy premium at age 58 (20 years ago) was under $100/month for a lifetime benefit period, and with an inflation rider (so her policy benefit would increase every year by 4%). If she had waited until she was 70 to purchase the policy, it would have been too expensive and she would have been uninsurable.

The secret is starting to plan as early as possible…beginning with our own planning….and realizing that no matter what your situtuation is today, there is always an appropriate plan of action. The key is finding a caring and knowledgeable advisor to help you through the process.

I would like to hear your experiences. Feel free to share them with us. If you are interested in help with these types of questions and situations, email me at katana@designateddaughter.com or call me at 248-366-0137. Either I or one of our Contributing Experts will be able to help you with your situation. Also, be sure to sign up for my Caregiver’s Manual right here on the website. It’s a great tool for helping you prepare for this entire process.

Katherine Jackson’s shocking change of heart

The Michael Jackson Estate has been the subject of regular court hearings as Katherine Jackson battled for control over the last several months.  She routinely objected to the decisions of the co-executors John Branca and John McClain.  Recently, she hired a new attorney with the promise of taking the case in a new direction, as I discussed in this recent article about the Michael Jackson case .

Her case took a new direction, all right.  She decided to drop her claim.  That’s right, she stopped fighting and agreed to let the executors run the show without her. Surprised?  I was.  And I was far from the only one.  Here’s what a lawyer in the case said about Katherine Jackson’s change of heart, according to CNN: “She has now reneged on her obligation to her family.”  This same lawyer then said that it was “one of the most despicable displays” he’d ever seen in court.  He even accused Katherine of colluding with the estate executors in a “secret deal”. So who was this attorney representing?  None other than Joe Jackson — Katherine’s husband of 60 years.  Granted, they don’t live together, but obviously, he was taken aback about what happened. And Joe and his attorney

Read rest at: Katherine Jackson’s shocking change of heart

Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and http://www.brmmlaw.com/ in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.

Leona Helmsley charity battle rages on

As I described in this article from February 2009 , the trustees of the Leona Helmsley charitable trust asked the probate court in New York for permission to donate primarily to charities that helped people rather than dogs, despite some language in the trust that suggested she wanted her billions to benefits animal charities.

Specifically, the trust had a Mission Statement that included, as its first purpose “the provision of the care for dogs”.  But it also gave the trustees discretion to benefit charities as they saw fit.  This is a very important decisions for many charities (not to mention the people or animals they help) because we’re talking about several billion dollars.

This August, several different animal charities, including the Humane Society and American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, launched a legal challenge to the judge’s ruling to force the trustees to support animal charities.  Reportedly, the trustees so far have donated very little to help dogs. There was a big question whether these charities even had proper “standing” to bring this action (meaning whether or not they had the legal ability to challenge the judge’s ruling even though they were not named beneficiaries).  So far, their challenge has been allowed to proceed. In fact, a couple weeks ago,

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Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and http://www.brmmlaw.com/ in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.

Ike Turner Will Contest Ruling is in

The trial involving whether Rock ‘n Roll pioneer & legend, Ike Turner, left a valid will has ended.  As described in this prior article I wrote, the case pitted his six children (two of whom apparently are now questionable children of his) versus his ex-wife versus his friend and “sometime” attorney.  I’m not exactly sure why someone would be a “sometime” attorney, but that’s how he was described in this North County Times (California) article about the trial. The children argued Ike died without a valid will, leaving all to them under California’s intestate laws.  The ex-wife, Audrey Madison Turner, felt that Ike had left everything to her through a handwritten will written two months before he died of a drug overdose in 2007 (even though the couple was already divorced). The “sometime” attorney believed a prior handwritten will in 2001 left him in control of Ike’s legacy.  What was that legacy?  While it appeared the estate was cash-poor, the victor would receive the rights to own and profit from some 4000 songs.  That’s a lot of notes! A few days ago, the judge issued his decision.  He ruled that both wills may have been valid, but a later note written by Ike Turner had revoked the last will, which in turn had revoked the 2001 will.  This meant the children were the big winners . . . at least so far. The judge also granted all of the combatants a chance to appear in front of him again to try to change his mind.  This is a rare step, especially given his first ruling came through a 16-page decision, issued two weeks after the trial ended.  In other words, this was far from a snap decision, which means the likelihood of him changing his mind would be minimal. So, while we can’t declare a final winner yet, the children surely had a good time celebrating this Halloween weekend.  Of course, regardless of what happens after the next court hearing, there is likely to be an appeal.  The losing side almost always appeals after trials like these.  There are too many emotions at stake (not to mention dollars) to go away quietly. Too bad Ike wasn’t better about documenting his wishes and avoiding a family fight.  For some reason, court fights among heirs to famous musicians are common.  Just ask the families of Michael Jackson, James Brown, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia, and Whitney Houston (wait — she’s not dead yet, but she is involved in a fight over what her late father’s true wishes were). All of these stories, and many more, are covered in the new book Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!, co-written by Andrew & Danielle Mayoras.  We use these stories to help make sure your family won’t end up the same way.  We also teach you what to do (and not do) if you’re already in a fight. It’s available at TrialAndHeirs.com . Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.

The trial involving whether Rock ‘n Roll pioneer & legend, Ike Turner, left a valid will has ended.  As described in this prior article I wrote, the case pitted his six children (two of whom apparently are now questionable children of his) versus his ex-wife versus his friend and “sometime” attorney.  I’m not exactly sure why someone would be a “sometime” attorney, but that’s how he was described in this North County Times (California) article about the trial.

The children argued Ike died without a valid will, leaving all to them under California’s intestate laws.  The ex-wife, Audrey Madison Turner, felt that Ike had left everything to her through a handwritten will written two months before he died of a drug overdose in 2007 (even though the couple was already divorced).

The “sometime” attorney believed a prior handwritten will in 2001 left him in control of Ike’s legacy.  What was that legacy?  While it appeared the estate was cash-poor, the victor would receive the rights to own and profit from some 4000 songs.  That’s a lot of notes!

A few days ago, the judge issued his decision.  He ruled that both wills may have been valid, but a later note written by Ike Turner had revoked the last will, which in turn had revoked the 2001 will.  This meant the children were the big winners . . . at least so far.

The judge also granted all of the combatants a chance to appear in front of him again to try to change his mind.  This is a rare step, especially given his first ruling came through a 16-page decision, issued two weeks after the trial ended.  In other words, this was far from a snap decision, which means the likelihood of him changing his mind would be minimal.

So, while we can’t declare a final winner yet, the children surely had a good time celebrating this Halloween weekend.  Of course, regardless of what happens after the next court hearing, there is likely to be an appeal.  The losing side almost always appeals after trials like these.  There are too many emotions at stake (not to mention dollars) to go away quietly.

Too bad Ike wasn’t better about documenting his wishes and avoiding a family fight.  For some reason, court fights among heirs to famous musicians are common.  Just ask the families of Michael Jackson, James Brown, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia, and Whitney Houston (wait — she’s not dead yet, but she is involved in a fight over what her late father’s true wishes were).

All of these stories, and many more, are covered in the new book Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!, co-written by Andrew & Danielle Mayoras.  We use these stories to help make sure your family won’t end up the same way.  We also teach you what to do (and not do) if you’re already in a fight.

It’s available at TrialAndHeirs.com.

Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and http://www.brmmlaw.com/ in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.

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Ike Turner Will Contest Ruling is in

FBI investigated Anna Nicole Smith for murder of “step-son”

Probate disputes over whether a will or trust was valid, or instead was signed at at time when the person was mentally incompetent or subject to undue influence, are common.  They’re also very emotional and difficult for everyone involved.  The Anna Nicole Smith case – the Granddaddy of all probate disputes — illustrates this more than any other. I discussed the case in this article , including how the estate executor/lawyer/former boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, not only lost a request he filed in the federal Court of Appeals on behalf of Smith’s Estate, but how he was charged criminally with conspiring to provide Anna Nicole with the prescription drugs that killed her. In Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights, which I wrote with Danielle Mayoras, we discuss the case at length (along with dozens more) so people can learn from celebrity errors, protect their heirs, and know their legal rights if they find themselves in a family fortune fight. But a new twist on the case surfaced recently.  While this development did not affect the case itself, and turned out to be nothing important in the end, it highlights how difficult these cases can get for those going through them.  And yes, not just the rich and famous! The Associated Press submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI and received hundreds of pages of documents that revealed how the FBI investigated Anna Nicole in 2000 and 2001 as a suspect in a murder plot against her late husband’s son.  She and the son had been fighting over the multi-billion dollar estate of Anna Nicole’s 90-year old husband since he died in 1995.  The FBI suspected she may have hired a hit-man to commit murder! The FBI questioned Smith in July, 2000, during which she tearfully denied any such plot.  She said she thought the probate case was almost over, and even if her “step-son” had died, the Howard Marshall fortune still would have been tied up in trusts and wouldn’t have gone to her. The step-son, Pierce Marshall, was also interviewed and claimed that Anna Nicole rarely spent time with her husband before he died, and how Pierce’s father had complained to him that she asked for $50,000 or more twice a week. The FBI took the investigation seriously.  The investigation lasted at least 10 months.  FBI agents even confiscated from Anna Nicole a .357 revolver, a 3 and 1/2 inch steel knife, and a black and orange “Dr. Suess” hat (your guess is as good as mine on that last one). The FBI returned these items to her and closed the case in 2001.  It found insufficient evidence that she engaged in a murder-for-hire scheme to kill Marshall’s son.  Pierce Marshall died from an infection in 2006 at age 67, the year before Anna Nicole Smith died from a drug overdose. Yet the fight over Howard Marshall’s money is not over, even though it started 14 years ago.  Even in death, the two are battling — but now, their estates are duking it out. You can order a copy of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! at TrialAndHeirs.com if you’d like to learn more about this case and many other celebrity estate battles, so your family won’t end up the same way. Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.

Probate disputes over whether a will or trust was valid, or instead was signed at at time when the person was mentally incompetent or subject to undue influence, are common.  They’re also very emotional and difficult for everyone involved.  The Anna Nicole Smith case – the Granddaddy of all probate disputes — illustrates this more than any other.

I discussed the case in this article, including how the estate executor/lawyer/former boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, not only lost a request he filed in the federal Court of Appeals on behalf of Smith’s Estate, but how he was charged criminally with conspiring to provide Anna Nicole with the prescription drugs that killed her.

In Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights, which I wrote with Danielle Mayoras, we discuss the case at length (along with dozens more) so people can learn from celebrity errors, protect their heirs, and know their legal rights if they find themselves in a family fortune fight.

But a new twist on the case surfaced recently.  While this development did not affect the case itself, and turned out to be nothing important in the end, it highlights how difficult these cases can get for those going through them.  And yes, not just the rich and famous!

The Associated Press submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI and received hundreds of pages of documents that revealed how the FBI investigated Anna Nicole in 2000 and 2001 as a suspect in a murder plot against her late husband’s son.  She and the son had been fighting over the multi-billion dollar estate of Anna Nicole’s 90-year old husband since he died in 1995.  The FBI suspected she may have hired a hit-man to commit murder!

The FBI questioned Smith in July, 2000, during which she tearfully denied any such plot.  She said she thought the probate case was almost over, and even if her “step-son” had died, the Howard Marshall fortune still would have been tied up in trusts and wouldn’t have gone to her.

The step-son, Pierce Marshall, was also interviewed and claimed that Anna Nicole rarely spent time with her husband before he died, and how Pierce’s father had complained to him that she asked for $50,000 or more twice a week.

The FBI took the investigation seriously.  The investigation lasted at least 10 months.  FBI agents even confiscated from Anna Nicole a .357 revolver, a 3 and 1/2 inch steel knife, and a black and orange “Dr. Suess” hat (your guess is as good as mine on that last one).

The FBI returned these items to her and closed the case in 2001.  It found insufficient evidence that she engaged in a murder-for-hire scheme to kill Marshall’s son.  Pierce Marshall died from an infection in 2006 at age 67, the year before Anna Nicole Smith died from a drug overdose.

Yet the fight over Howard Marshall’s money is not over, even though it started 14 years ago.  Even in death, the two are battling — but now, their estates are duking it out.

You can order a copy of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! at TrialAndHeirs.com if you’d like to learn more about this case and many other celebrity estate battles, so your family won’t end up the same way.

Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and http://www.brmmlaw.com/ in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at blog @ trialandheirs.com.

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FBI investigated Anna Nicole Smith for murder of “step-son”

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