Morgan Freeman's granddaughter was tragically murdered. The actor has gotten involved in a probate case to determine who her heirs will be.
In August, E'Dena Hines was stabbed to death by her boyfriend who seemed to believe that she was possessed as he allegedly shouted, "Get out, devils! I cast you out, devils! In the name of Jesus Christ, I cast you out!" Hines was the step-granddaughter of the Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman.
She did not have a will or any other form of estate plan. She also did not have children. That means that under the laws of intestate succession her estate should go to her parents.
Freeman claims that Hines' father abandoned her when she was a small child. The father apparently only saw his daughter a couple of times and did not provide any kind of support, financial or otherwise. Freeman has stepped into the case because most of the money in the estate was provided to Hines by him as gifts.
It is the actor's wish that his gifts do not go to the father he claims abandoned his granddaughter.
This case illustrates an important part of intestate laws. Even though the laws state who should receive a person's estate by default, the court can often rule differently for good cause.
One of the reasons for the law is to ensure that when a person passes away without a will his or her estate will go to whom he or she probably would have wanted. In this case, it would seem likely that Hines would not want her estate to go to a father she barely knew.
Thus if Freeman can prove his claims, it could give the court good cause to not give any portion of the estate to the father.
The article mentions three ways to provide for a pet in your estate plan:
Will Beneficiary – In your will you can name someone to inherit your pet and leave them money to care for the animal. This can be a little problematic as there is no way to guarantee that the person will use the funds to care for your pet, so only do this if you are certain the person will love your pet as much as you do.
Will Trust – You can create a trust in your will and leave funds for the trust to care for your pet. In every state except Minnesota this will create a trust. A probate court will designate a trustee and caretaker for your pet to see that your pet is cared for.
Traditional Trust – You can create a trust and fund it with the assets necessary for your pet's care. It is common to appoint as trustee the person who will also be the pet's caregiver, but it is not necessary.
If you would like more information about providing for your pet after you pass away, speak with Nelson Elder Care Law about the above options.
The aftermath of a high-profile police shooting incident in Cincinnati illustrates a central tenet of estate law when a person passes away without an estate plan.
The death of Sam DuBose received massive media attention and sparked national outrage. In July, DuBose was shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer as DuBose was pulling away from a traffic stop.
The now former officer is being charged with murder in the incident.
DuBose was not married and had 11 children. One of the issues in the case was who would pursue a wrongful death claim against the university.
Both DuBose's mother and father applied in probate court to be given management of the estate, although his mother later withdrew her application. Instead of appointing one of these older relatives, the court has appointed DuBose's 18-year-old daughter.
The reason for this is an important principle of estate law: if an unmarried person passes away without naming an executor for the estate, then a strong preference is to appoint a child. In this case, the daughter was judged to be competent and capable of managing the estate, so she was appointed.
Although a wrongful death case against the University of Cincinnati has not been filed yet, it appears that the school is eager to settle this case as quickly as possible. The daughter will most likely be managing a few million dollars in the foreseeable future and she will need to distribute the funds fairly to DuBose's other family members.
You probably hope to have your mortgage paid off long before you pass away. However, in your estate plan you should plan for what will happen if you die before your mortgage is paid off.
If you have a mortgage on your home, then you would be right to wonder if a designated heir can inherit the home after you pass away and what that means for the mortgage. The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog recently tackled this issue in "What Happens When A Person With A Mortgage Passes Away?"
The answers to what happens to the mortgage and home after you pass away depends on to whom you leave the home in your estate plan.
If the person who inherits the home is closely related to you, then by law they can take over the mortgage. A spouse or child, for example, can elect to inherit the home and continue paying the mortgage.
However, as a practical matter if they are unable to continue the mortgage payments, then obviously they will have to do something else with the home.
You might consider in your estate plan ensuring that the heir will have enough other funds to pay off the mortgage.
If your designated heir is not a close relative, then he or she does not automatically get to take over the mortgage. Normally, lenders will let the person inheriting the home refinance the mortgage if he or she wishes to do so and is able to pay.
If the lender is unwilling to refinance and the home must be sold, then the remainder of the mortgage will usually be due at the time of the sale.
Consult an elder law attorney to discuss your options.