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Who owns Lee Harvey Oswald’s casket?

CasketWho owns a casket after it has been buried in the ground? That question formed the basis of a legal battle over ownership of Lee Harvey Oswald’s casket. Oswald was buried in 1963 in a casket bought by his brother Robert Oswald.  In 1981 Oswald’s body was exhumed to confirm the identity of his remains (due to all the conspiracy theories, some suggesting that the coffin held the body of a Soviet spy).  After dental records proved the remains belonged to Oswald, the body was reburied in a different casket, because the original casket was found to be unfit to be used in the reburial.  The original casket sat in storage at a funeral home until the funeral home attempted to sell it in 2010.

Robert Oswald brought suit claiming he is the owner of the casket because he purchased it. The Funeral home argued that the casket was a gift to the deceased and that only his estate has a claim to it, which is not a party in the case.

But Judge Donald J. Cosby of the District Court in Fort Worth recently ruled that by concealing the coffin’s existence from Oswald’s family members and later offering it for sale, the Baumgardner Funeral Home engaged in “wrongful and wanton and malicious conduct”, according to a story by the New York Times.  The judge ruled that the coffin must be returned to Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother.

For more information see:

Jason Whitley, Judge to Decide Fate of Oswald’s Original Casket, USA Today, Dec. 9, 2014.



Top-earning dead rock stars

Forbes’ list of top-earning deceased musicians for 2014 came out recently and the amounts of money being earned by their estates is stunning.  Here are the results of this year’s list:

Michael Jackson’s estate came in first at $140 million.

Elvis Presley’s estate takes second at $55 million.

Finishing in third is Bob Marley at $20 million.

John Lennon’s estate comes in fourth with $12 million.

Runners up include George Harrison, Tupac Shakur, Richard Rogers, Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix.

See Zack O’Malley Greenburg, The Top-Earning Dead Musicians of 2014, Forbes, Oct. 31, 2014.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2014/10/31/the-top-earning-dead-musicians-of-2014/

Judicial Candidates Commission – Summit County Ohio

I recently served on the Judicial Candidates Commission for the Akron Bar Association.  The Commission interviewed all 22 judicial candidates in Summit County on the November 2014 ballot and gave ratings to each.  You can view the ratings at this site:


You Be The Judge – Summit County.

R. Bryan Nace is now Chair of the Probate Law Section

R. Bryan Nace is now Chairperson of the Probate Law Section of the Akron Bar Association. The Probate Section is gearing up for an interesting year of activities including continuing legal education regarding probate administration, trusts, and estate planning.

Health, Wealth & Legacy Planning Seminar

Ameriprise Financial invites you to a special seminar at Beau’s Grille on Thursday May 15, 2014 @ 6:30 pm.

This event is features:

  • R. Bryan Nace, Attorney at Law, Nace Law Office
  • Ming Je Huang, DC, DACBA, Integrative Chiropractic Clinic
  • Annie Zhang, Private Wealth Advisor, Ameriprise Financial

This seminar will offer tips and strategies that can help you:
o Learn how to live a happy and healthy lifestyle
o Plan to bring your retirement dreams and goals more within reach.
o Learn ways to generate dependable income that could last through your whole retirement.
o Leave behind a lasting, meaningful legacy
o Manage estate tax burden – for you and your loved ones.

Space is limited. Please make a reservation for you and up to 4 guests.  RSVP to JENNIFER SHEMORY AT 330.873.1100 OR JENNIFER.L.SHEMORY@AMPF.COM .
Dinner will be provided.  This is an informational seminar. There is no cost or obligation.

This seminar is sponsored by Columbia Management, CNL Securities, and John Hancock.

Can a parent dictate their child not be a church member even if they surrender custody?

Under Ohio law when parents surrender legal custody to non-parents they retain certain residual parental rights, including “the  privilege to determine the child’s religious affiliation.” Does this mean that a birth parent in such a situation can insist that the child not be a member of a church?  The Summit County Court of Appeals has said yes in a recent opinion.  The Volokh Conspiracy blawg has an interesting post about the decision:

Does ‘religious affiliation’ include nonreligiousness?.

Woman Sues Bank In Effort To Prove She Is Alive

A woman has sued her bank and Equifax in an effort to correct reports that she is dead.  The woman from the St. Louis area said that because of her deceased status she has been turned down for a credit card and twice denied refinancing on her mortgage, as reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the ABA Journal and Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

She says she has repeatedly asked the bank and Equifax to fix the error, to no avail.  The suit claims a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which allows recovery of damages, lawsuit costs, and statutory penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.

Woman sues in effort to prove she is alive.

Why Should You Have a Last Will and Testament?

A will can help accomplish many things,  including naming executors, explaining how family heirlooms and other property should be distributed,  and naming guardians for your minor children.   A will should be part of a comprehensive estate plan, but it is a good place to start.  Here are some basic steps to get you started in making a simple will:

1.  Choose what property will be in your will — First, create a list of your assets.  Then decide what will pass through your estate after you pass away.
2.  Determine who will inherit your property — also consider alternate beneficiaries in case your primary choices do not survive you.
3.  Choose your executor — An executor is the person you name to carry out the instructions of your will.  Consider a potential alternate in the event that the first choice cannot serve.
4.  Choose a guardian — If you have children under the age of 18, you should name a guardian — someone you trust to look after your children.

This information will be needed to create a simple last will and testament.

Court Rules Craigslist Sperm Donor Owes Child Support

A Topeka man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple is the presumptive father to a baby one of the woman bore and is subject to paying child support, a Kansas District Court judge ruled recently.  Sounds like a fact pattern made up for a law school exam, but it is all too real for the donor.

Court: Marotta is a father, not merely a sperm donor | CJOnline.com.

Senators Ask DOJ To Clear Up Past Lies to Supreme Court

It is no wonder there is a lack of trust in the federal government.  The NSA lied to the Department of Justice, and by extension, to the Supreme Court.  Nine months ago, the court decided Clapper v. Amnesty International, denying standing to the plaintiffs because it was speculative that they were being spied on by the government.  But we now know the plaintiffs were right.  The Supreme Court’s decision relied, in part, on misrepresentations by the Solicitor General, which were in turn caused by misinformation from the NSA.  Three congressmen, Senators Mark Udall, Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich, in a letter to the Solicitor General,  are asking the government to clear up any inaccuracies in the record.

Senators Ask Solicitor General To Clear Up Past Lies to SCOTUS – Technologist.