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December 2012 Archives

Gay Marriage Activist Richard Adams Dies at 65

Gay marriage is in the news again, as a same-sex marriage pioneer has passed away in Los Angeles. Richard Adams died Dec. 17 at the age of 65, The New York Times reports.

Adams married Tony Sullivan, an Australian national, in 1975. The couple wed in Colorado during a brief period when such licenses were being granted to same-sex couples. After that, the couple fought incessantly to have their marriage recognized by the federal government, as the Immigration and Naturalization Service sought to deport Sullivan.

In response to an application for residency, an official rejection letter from the INS stated that the couple failed to establish "that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots," according to the Times.

Kinkade Estate Settles Secretly, in Spirit of Love and Optimism

The estate of artist Thomas Kinkade has been settled. But what's this? There's no news on the settlement reached! It's a secret settlement, which means that details on the $66 million estate dispute are sealed.

That's no fun! After all, the dispute between the late painter's mistress and his estranged wife was an interesting one to follow, with his home up for grabs, as well as numerous works of art.

Kinkade's mistress, Amy Pinto and his estranged wife, Nanette Kinkade, have been embroiled in the estate dispute since earlier this year. The painter died in California but New Yorkers are certainly aware of his work.

Music Legend Ravi Shankar's Death Raises Property Issues

Last week, the music industry lost one of the first avant-garde composers of his time, Ravi Shankar, at the age of 92.

Shankar's music label, East Meets West Music, and the Ravi Shankar Foundation issued a press release stating that the singer passed away at a hospital in La Jolla, California.

The iconic singer and played an instrumental role in bringing Indian music to the western world, as he introduced European and American audiences to the simple sound of the sitar in the 1950s. His music inspired George Harrison of the Beatles, as well as countless other musicians.

So what will happen to his estate?

Rolling Over Your Retirement Account: How It Works

Retirement accounts are critical to good estate planning and good financial planning.

You might already have a retirement account, but what happens if you're not happy with it? Did you know that it was possible to roll over your account?

You can change accounts and go with an entirely different brokerage. While you're not allowed to withdraw funds from an investment retirement account or from a 401(k) account without incurring a penalty, you are well within your rights to roll over an account.

How does this work?

Mall Magnate Melvin Simon's Estate Finally Settled

The family members of mall magnate Melvin Simon were still in court over his estate, three years after his death, reports The Indianapolis Star. But the court dates are now over as his $2 billion estate is finally settled. The details of the settlement remain hushed.

A settlement in the $2 billion estate was approved on Wednesday. The largest part of his estate included shares in his shopping mall empire. He died in 2009 at the age of 82, and family members began fighting over the estate almost immediately.

The parties involved in the will contest were the daughter of Melvin Simon and his widow. The daughters allege that their father suffered from dementia at the time his will was amended.

George Soros and Warren Buffett Want Higher Estate Tax

It’s not every day that you see billionaires asking for a raise in taxes which would essentially affect their “wealth category,” namely, the rich.

But yes, two prominent billionaires are doing just that, writes Bloomberg News. You’ve likely heard the name Warren Buffett. And if you watch Glen Beck, then you’ve likely also heard the name George Soros.

Both men are billionaires and both are calling for a rise in the estate tax.

Can Adoption Records Be Unsealed For Health Care Directive?

Can you ask a court to unseal decades-old adoption documents to determine who your birth parents are, if the information affected your estate planning?

It’s unlikely that the Surrogate’s Court would unseal those records for that purpose, especially since intestate inheritance rights of the birth parents are cut off (and vice versa) once the adoption decree goes through.

Adoptions are largely private matters and documents from adoption can be sealed by the court once the adoption decree is final.

Hospital Used Smurfs to Get Huguette Clark's Money?

Here's a way to get into a billionaire's will. Shower her with Smurfs.

No, really. That's the idea that the Beth Israel Medical Center had when it came to their wealthiest patient, Huguette Clark. According to The New York Post, the hospital showered Clark with stuffed cartoon characters and attempted to appeal to the child-like billionaire heiress' cartoon fetish in order to get her millions.

In fact, one hospital official even suggested sending Clark a gift of Smurf balloons, saying that Smurfs were her new favorite cartoon, writes The NY Post .

And evidently, it worked.

Warning: Fiscal Cliff Ahead! Might be Too Late to Make Gifts

The year-end is coming up and with all the talk about the fiscal cliff, people might be asking what their year-end tax moves should be. And if their estate plan factors into their year-end planning, they might also be asking what their year-end estate planning moves should be.

There’s been extensive talk on this blog about the year-end tax debacle with the estate tax going back to a $1 million exemption amount.

With December 31 only weeks away, there’s still no accord in the legislature and while the fiscal cliff is an issue that affects many different taxes, the estate tax proved to be a contentious aspect of that debate.