Houston Estate Planning Law Blog

AMY WINEHOUSE LEAVES BEHIND A HEFTY ESTATE WORTH $4.66 MILLION

Many Texas residents remember when Amy Winehouse passed away. Last July, the 27-year-old singer was found dead in bed at her London home. The tragic tale of the soul singer’s passing was reported in many newspapers across the United States. The singer struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for many years. Ultimately, she died of accidental alcohol poisoning.

Recently, the singer is once again headlining the news. This time, sources speak about the singer’s estate. According to reports, Amy Winehouse left an estate worth 2.94 million pounds, which is the equivalent of $4.66 million, after her death last year. Specifically, probate documents show that she has assets totaling more than $6.7 million, leaving $4.66 million remaining after debts and taxes.

Unfortunately, Winehouse did not take the time to make estate plans before she passed. As a result, the money will go to her parents. Furthermore, documents list the singer’s father as administrator of the singer’s estate.

No one will ever truly know the singer’s specific post-life intentions for her assets and money. For example, did she really want her parents to get all of her money? Or, did she have the desire to donate money to the music community?

Winehouse never had the opportunity to see her 30th birthday. This story serves as a reminder that life can be taken very unexpectedly. For this reason, if you have specific aspirations for your assets after you die, you should ensure that you make appropriate legal arrangements. You can never really be too young to set up a will.

Source: Yahoo! News, “Winehouse family to get her $4.66 million fortune,” March 28, 2012

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81-YEAR-OLD WOMAN CREATES A TRUST WITH HER LOTTERY WINNINGS

Many Texas residents wish they could win the lottery. What would you do if you won? Buy a boat? Purchase a new home? Or, would you save all of your winnings for your family and friends? In a recent story, a woman will have the opportunity to purchase nearly anything she wants with her new winnings.

It all started when a woman had a craving for dessert. She journeyed to her local Stop and Shop to ease her hunger, and while she was in the store, the woman decided to purchase a Powerball ticket. Much to her surprise, the 81-year-old woman won $336.4 million. She is the winner of the sixth-largest prize in the United States. According to sources, to protect her savings, the woman opted for a lump sum of $210 million and set up a trust under the name “Rainbow SherbetTrust.”

Sources say that the woman was so shocked. She did not claim her prize for about one month. In fact, she kept the ticket in a Bible and slept with it in her bed. Once she got over the shock, the woman was smart and set up a trust for her winnings. It is extremely important to make plans for such a large amount of money. With proper trust arrangements, the woman can ensure that her family and loved ones are financially cared for after she passes.

The woman made a statement about her incredible luck: “I’m very happy and I’m very proud and this will make my family very happy. We are truly blessed. Thank you.”

Source: New York Times, “$336.4M Powerball winner is 81-year-old woman,” Mar. 6, 2012

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ESTATE PLANNING IS A GOOD IDEA FOR YOUNG INDIVIDUALS

Many young Texas residents may think that estate planning is not applicable to their lives. However, if you are in this category, you may want to talk to someone about making potential arrangements. There are many benefits for individuals–young and old.

Sources say that younger people tend to feel that there is no specific need for estate planning. Nevertheless, legal professionals feel that it is a good idea for younger adults to work up a will. They add, at a minimum, individuals need to name a guardian for their children.

Young individuals should ask the following question: What would happen if I passed away immediately? If you have children and you do not name a guardian for their care, if you were to pass, a random judge would assign a guardian to your children.

In addition to naming guardians, experts suggest young parents should consider financial repercussions of an unanticipated death. For example, if something happens to a spouse in a younger family, there are income needs that need to be figured out for remaining family members.

Ultimately, if you die without a will, the state will essentially make one for you. While this may work out for some individuals, many people have inherent plans for their assets after they die. For this reason, if you do not have a current estate plan, you may want to begin to formulate one-especially if you are unfamiliar with the probate rules of your state. Remember, probate systems vary significantly across the nation.

Source: Cleveland Jewish News, “Estate planning wise at almost any age,” Michael C. Butz, March 15, 2012

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LIZZIE BORDEN’S LEGAL JOURNALS ARE WILLED TO A MUSEUM

Texas residents probably recall the age-old story of the Lizzie Borden murder case. The woman was charged for allegedly using an ax to kill her father and stepmother in 1892. Although she was acquitted of the homicides, numerous individuals feel that the woman executed the murders. In recent news, a series of legal journals that were kept by Borden’s lawyer are revealing new details about this ancient account.

The grandson of Borden’s lawyer gave the journals to the Fall River Historical Society in his will. He recently passed away.

Sources say that the chronicles include details of interviews that Borden’s attorney conducted throughout the trial. The museum’s curator notes that the legal journals contain some previously undiscovered information about the murder case. For example, an article reports that there are some comments about how much Borden’s father cared for Lizzie and her sister.

The Fall River Historical Society is extremely privileged to have received such a unique will donation. With proper exploration of the journals, modern attorneys may find historic details about the murder.

Most individuals create post-death plans for their cherished assets. This story is a great example of the preservation and safety that wills can provide. Thanks to the careful estate planning of the lawyer’s descendants, these priceless journals will probably be safeguarded by historians for years. Furthermore, the content will serve as interesting legal accounts of one of America’s most captivating murder stories.

Source: CBS News, “Lizzie Borden’s lawyer journals see the light,” Mar. 5, 2012

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