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Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!: ...and what you can learn from celebrity errors Paperback – Oct 28 2009
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About the Author
Hosts of the TV Special, Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune!, this charismatic husband-and-wife duo are Forbes contributors and have appeared on the Rachael Ray Show, ABC's Live Well Network, PBS, and FOX and NBC Affiliaties. They have lent their expertise and analysis to hundreds of media sources including the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Kiplinger, ABC News, The Washington Post, among many others. Danielle and Andy are expert lawyers in the fields of estate planning, probate and litigation, and they delight audiences nationwide, dishing the dirt on celebrity estate battles while dispensing important legal information to help people avoid family fights among their heirs. The couple met at the prestigious University of Michigan Law School and have three children together.
Co-authors Andrew W. and Danielle B. Mayoras are a power team of legacy expert attorneys. Their strong reputations and extensive experience in estate planning, probate, elder law, and litigation have made them trusted counselors and sought after educators for individuals and businesses around the country. Danielle B. Mayoras has dedicated her legal career to teaching professionals, businesses and the general public about elder law, special needs planning, and general estate planning. Danielle is a renowned attorney and Credentialed Professional Gerontologist, educating through speaking engagements, print, and broadcast media across the United States. Her speaking audiences range from nationally recognized brokerage firms, banks, and insurance companies to attorneys, accountants, and non-profit organizations. She consistently draws rave reviews from audiences and her speaking skills are in high demand. Andrew W. Mayoras is a prominent lawyer who specializes in contested legal issues effecting seniors, caregivers, and their families, including probate litigation, guardianships and conservatorships, exploitation of the elderly, and disputes involving wills, trusts, and estates. His well-known blog "The Probate Lawyer Blog: Famous Fortune Fights!" boasts a substantial audience and explores celebrity and other true stories of national interest. An American MENSA member and public speaker, he teaches attorneys, professionals, businesses and others through presentations, print and broadcast media, and social media websites. Andrew and Danielle, husband and wife, are committed to serving the needs of baby boomers, seniors, and others planning their futures. Together they were two of the co-founders of The Center for Elder Law, The Center for Special Needs Planning, and The Center for Probate Litigation. The authors graduated from the prestigious University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where they met. They live with their three wonderful children, splitting time between Southeast Michigan and Southern California.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Back around the year 2000, I decided to investigate estate planning and make sure I had an optimum estate plan in place. We got our first will as soon as our first child was born....so I had some familiarity with simple wills. I bought about 4 books on estate planning. Most of these books were a tough read because the subject is not exciting, and estate law is an arcane specialty area of the law anyway. The most helpful book I found was The 60-Minute Estate Planner. I found it the best because of the graphical diagrams showing how the money flowed after each marital partner passed away. I sought out an experienced estate planning attorney who only did estate planning. He set up marital bypass trusts for each of us. I then did all the paperwork for transferring assets to the trusts and the lawyer reviewed them for correctness before I executed them. I then re-titled the assets and updated the beneficiary forms to fund the trusts.
I bought this book with the expectation of being entertained by the stories of wealthy people without wills. Since I had previously researched estate planning, and was familiar with executing both wills and bypass trusts....I did not expect to learn much about estate planning from the book.
This book fulfilled my expectation for being entertained. I enjoyed reading the tales of famous people who had no wills. Coming from Central Illinois, farming country, I particularly enjoyed the Canadian farmer story. Seems he left for the field on his tractor and told his wife he would be back by 10 pm. He had an accident on the tractor and his legs were pinned. When he didn't come home by 10pm, his wife got some neighbors and went to look for him. They found his legs pinned by the tractor and rushed him to the hospital. He died soon after. When the neighbors went out in daylight to retrieve the tractor, they found he had used his pocketknife to scribe something like......I leave it all to my wife...then his initials. The judge ruled his inscription was a valid will.......but each will must be filed in the courthouse. He ordered the inscribed portion of the tractor to be sawn off and brought to the courthouse. It was sawn off and is now in a Canadian museum.
I actually learned a few things about estate planning in this book. I was not aware of `the terror clause" to prevent your heirs from battling over your estate. I also liked the grandfather's trust where every April after his death, his trust would match the grandchild's income shown on the grandchild's tax return. The grandfather wanted to try to instill the value of hard work onto his grandchildren.
I would suggest reading this book as an entertaining introduction to estate planning. Then read The 60-minute Estate Planner and review the graphical explanations of trusts. The AARP Crash Course in Estate Planning is also a helpful book. Then visit an attorney who specializes in only estate planning to set-up your estate plan. If you are going to set up trusts, have the lawyer help you fund the trust including filling out beneficiary forms correctly.
One of the most interesting, for me, was Chief Justice Burger's 176-word will (I wish the authors had printed it). You'd think a Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court would get it right, but "the family of the late Chief Justice was forced to spend thousands of dollars extra in probate court" just to clarify his last testament.
"Trial & Heirs" might even make you a little paranoid--"Are my relatives going to behave like that when I pass on?" you ask yourself. The actual amount you leave behind doesn't seem to matter to some people. They'll argue over pennies. Frank Sinatra added "a very detailed 'No Contest clause' (also called [a] 'terror clause') in his will" just so that anyone who contested his will would be completely disinherited.
The 'Terror Clause' could be very appropriate if you've been married more than once, and might leave multiple spouses and/or ex-spouses behind when you pass on.
Incidentally, most of the chapters in this book include a section headed "Avoid a family fight!"
And don't end up like the farmer, who waited until the last minute to make out his will. His neighbors discovered it scratched onto the fender of his tractor with his pocket knife.
The farmer was under the tractor.
"Trial & Heirs" is a useful and interesting book. You might think at first that the authors are tooting their own legal horns, but if you're like me you'll be: (1) convinced of their sincere good intentions; (2) impressed by their legal acumen; (3) convinced to write or update your will, thus benefiting from the mistakes of deceased, whom the authors use as examples, many of them quite rich and famous (one of my most common exclamations while reading this book was: "I didn't know he/she was dead!")
***review copy supplied by authors
Direction Memo(TM): How to Write a Letter of Instructions for Your Estate Plan
Paul Caspersen, author of the book "Direction Memo(tm): How to Write a Letter of Instructions for Your Estate Plan."