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The 33rd anniversary of the death of Bob Marley recently passed. Meanwhile, the fight over the estate of Mr. Marley, who died on May 11th, 1981, continues in the English courts. Ownership of some of the songs written and recorded by Bob Marley will be argued at the Chancery Division of the High Court in London. Two of Marley’s best-known songs, No Woman, No Cry and War, are at stake.
Marley was a musical pioneer with his reggae music that gained an international following. However, Mr. Marley did not leave a will, apparently because of his religious beliefs. The Rastafarian view of death and the afterlife kept Mr. Marley from any estate planning. In the Rastafarian belief, life is eternal and reincarnation is imminent.
As a result he created a lengthy probate mess that has continued for decades and is not over yet. There have been numerous lawsuits and probate court proceedings in Jamaica, the United Kingdom, and in the United States.
It is said that Mr. Marley’s net worth in life reached an estimated $30 million, but the value of his estate continued to grow after his death. It is estimated that in 2012 alone the Marley estate produced about $18 million.
All the fighting over money seems ironic given the messages of peace and love that Mr. Marley spread through his music. Much of the fighting could have been prevented with some good estate planning. Even if he could not execute a last will and testament, a living trust could have helped avoid the many legal battles over his estate.
R. Bryan Nace will be one of the speakers at the National Business Institute’s upcoming Trusts 101 seminar on June 18, 2014 at the Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The seminar is designed for professionals involved in creating, administering and terminating trusts, including:
- Financial Planners
- Accountants and CPAs
- Tax Preparers
- Trust Officers
For more information, follow the link below:
At least one Ohio Probate Court has upheld a last will and testament made and signed on a tablet. Judge James Walther of the Lorain County Probate Court has admitted to probate an electronic will written and signed on a Samsung Galaxy tablet. The witnesses to the will testified in probate court in support of the will. In fact, at least six persons testified as to the validity of the will. No one objected to its admission. Even the parents of the deceased person did not object, despite the fact that pursuant to Ohio statutory law (ORC § 2105.06) they would have inherited all if there was no will.
The Court found that the tablet will constituted a “writing” and was properly signed under Ohio statute (ORC § 2107.03). The Court also found that the witnesses provided sufficient evidence to establish this “writing” as the deceased person’s last will and testament.
This was a case of first impression in Ohio and we are likely to see more of these types of wills. However, this does not mean this is a good way to make a will, at least at the present time. There are many possible pitfalls and practical problems with making a will on a tablet or other computing device. First off there is the problem of preserving the electronic will in an acceptable format. There is also the impracticality of having multiple witnesses available and willing to testify in support of such a will when the time comes. And other courts may disagree with Judge Walther’s ruling.
The court case referred to above was In re Estate of Javier Castro, Lorain County Probate Case No. 2013 ES 00140, June 19, 2013 Judgment Entry.
The recent death of popular actor Philip Seymour Hoffman points out some estate planning pitfalls. Although Mr. Hoffman executed a will in 2004, he failed to update it after having two children. And Mr. Hoffman earned some significant income in the following years. Moreover, some significant estate tax law changes went into effect after his will was done. His 2004 will leaves everything to the mother of his children. He was not married to her and this is a big problem, at least from an estate tax perspective.
It has been suggested that Mr. Hoffman’s estate was around $35,000,000. Currently, $5,340,000 is exempt from federal taxes with amounts above that amount being subject to a federal estate tax rate of 40%. It would appear then that roughly $30,000,000 of his estate would be subject to estate tax at a 40% rate. This would generate about $12,000,000 in federal estate taxes! New York also has an estate tax. It has been estimated that roughly another $3,000,000 in will be paid in New York estate taxes. Much of that probably could have been avoided with some careful planning.
Hopefully Mr. Hoffman’s estate has enough liquid assets to avoid a forced sale of assets to meet his tax obligations. If Mr. Hoffman had life insurance that might provide for liquidity to pay the taxes due. And the use of an irrevocable life insurance trust would have allowed for excluding the life insurance proceeds from being subject to estate tax.
A follow-up visit to his attorney could have saved millions for his family. The lesson to be drawn from this is: “things change and so should one’s estate plan.”
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.
WHERE: BEAU’S GRILLE, HILTON AKRON/FAIRLAWN
3180 WEST MARKET STREET, AKRON, OH 44333
WHEN: THURSDAY, MAY 15 AT 6:30 P.M.
This seminar is sponsored by Columbia Management, CNL Securities, and John Hancock.