Artist’s Estate Demands Nude Photos Be Removed

Bigstock-Last-Will-and-Testament-44111440Recently the estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat demanded that nude photographs of the artist be taken off of a website. However, that might not have been what the artist would have wanted.

Paige Powell, the ex-girlfriend of the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, took several photographs of the artist lying on the bed nude and smiling at the camera. The photographs were shown at a 2014 exhibition and from there made their way online to several art websites.

One of those websites, Animal, posted the images in 2014.

The attorney for the artist's estate, however, recently sent a letter to the website demanding that the images be removed as they are disparaging to the artist. Powell claims that Basquiat was proud of his body and would want the photographs to be seen. Page Six reported this story in "Estate fighting release of Basquiat's nude photos."

It is impossible to know whether Powell is correct that Basquiat would have wanted the nude pictures to be seen. If so, this case is an illustration that there is often a disconnect between what a person would have wanted and what those running the estate want.

For this reason, it is very important when creating an estate plan that you be as specific as possible about any requests and that you pick estate administrators and trustees who will likely view things as you would have. This is especially true for artists who wish to have their works looked after in specific ways.

An experienced estate planning attorney can help guide you and consider all of these issues.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: Page Six (October 4, 2015) "Estate fighting release of Basquiat's nude photos."


Son Sues Mom for His Inheritance

Bigstock-Inheritance-Concept--73273333Family members suing each other over inheritances and other estate matters is fairly common. A recent case in North Carolina, however, is a bit unusual in that the matter centers on a disbarred attorney.

Tols Detmer’s father, Fritz Detmer, left his son an estate worth several hundred thousand dollars. The inheritance was supposed to be made available to the son when he turned 18.

Now, Tols is 19 and he is suing his own mother, Charlinette Detmer, for hundreds of thousands of dollars he says she improperly received from the estate.

The lawsuit alleges that Charlinette was supposed to receive $60,000 from the estate, but instead the lawyer administering the estate, Peter Capece, gave her $311,000. It is alleged that Capece gave Charlinette this windfall because she knew that Capece was misappropriating money from the estate for his own benefit.

In effect, the money paid to Charlinette was hush money.

Capece did not get away with his scheme, however. He was disbarred for appropriating $1.6 million from the estate of Fritz Detmer. Although the Fritz Detmer estate is suing Capece, you cannot get blood from a turnip. He has recently filed for bankruptcy.

The estate has put a home owned by Charlinette up for sale to pay Tols Detmer the money his mother owes him.

The Charlotte Observer reported this story in an article titled “Son sues his mom over Lake Norman estate proceeds.”

One thing this estate tale illustrates is that it is extremely important to choose a lawyer to administer an estate who is trustworthy.

If Capece had not misappropriated funds from the estate, then the mother never would have been able to request hush money. Of course, that does not absolve the mother in this case for taking the money that should have rightfully belonged to her son.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: Charlotte Observer (August 20, 2015) “Son sues his mom over Lake Norman estate proceeds.”


Who Owes On a Lease When the Tenant Passes Away?

Bigstock-Hand-With-Pen-And-Calculator-O-80294831Fewer and fewer Americans own their homes and instead are choosing to sign leases. What happens when someone passes away and money is still owed on the lease?

The New York Times runs a regular column where people can write in and have their real estate questions answered by an expert. In a recent such column, titled “A Noisy Cafe Next Door,” an elderly woman wrote and asked whether her daughter would be responsible for a recently signed lease if the writer passed away during the term of the lease.

The expert’s opinion?

The woman’s estate would owe on the lease and need to make regular payments. However, New York law does provide that the tenant’s estate can attempt to find a new tenant which the landlord must accept if reasonable.

This is fairly standard for any contract that you sign, and a lease is a form of contract.

Unless the terms of the contract state that it terminates upon death, then the person’s estate is normally responsible for that contract.

Naturally, there are exceptions, such as when a contract would be impossible to perform after one of the parties passes away. For example, a contract for a celebrity to make a personal appearance would be impossible to perform if the celebrity passed away.

One thing to note, however, is that like New York, many states do have special provisions in the law regarding how to handle post-death leases.

Before paying on a lease, an estate administrator should consult with an estate planning attorney in his or her jurisdictions to see how local law applies.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: New York Times (September 19, 2015) “A Noisy Cafe Next Door,”


New Estate Tax Requirements Postponed

Bigstock-House-and-calculator-Real-est-50033459New reporting requirements for estates subject to the estate tax were supposed to go into effect in August. However, the IRS was not ready at that time and has officially postponed the new requirements.

A law was recently enacted that required estates to report the value of the estate within 30 days of filing an estate tax form with the IRS. This law was intended to affect any estates that filed Form 706 after July 31, 2015.

However, the IRS never issued any implementing regulations for the law. As a result, the IRS has recently announced that the requirements will be postponed until February 29, 2016. Mondaq.com reported this development in an article titled “IRS Postpones New Requirements For Estates To Report Asset Values.”

This does not mean that estate administrators should do anything different than they were already planning to do. It is still important to get proper valuations of estate assets as they will have to be reported for estate tax purposes.

The IRS will eventually implement regulations for the new rules and estate administrators should be ready to file at that time. On the upside, the postponement may give some administrators a little more breathing room.

Remember that it is important to speak with the estate’s attorney about all matters concerning the estate tax and proper valuation of estate assets.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: Mondaq.com (September 8, 2015) “IRS Postpones New Requirements For Estates To Report Asset Values.”


Paying the IRS will be More Difficult for Some Next Year

Bigstock-IRS-Inscription-on-Label-Holde-78392627Normally, when people owe the IRS money, the agency is more than happy to take payment immediately and through a variety of different means. However, a new policy might make payments slightly more difficult for those who owe the IRS a lot of money.

Grocery stores are often full of minor annoyances most people brush off and forget about quickly after exiting the store. Yet, there is one thing that never ceases to get under the skin of impatient shoppers.

That is when a person in front of them pays with a check.

Even if it only takes a few more seconds to write out the check than it would to swipe a card, the people in line behind the check-writer are usually thinking, “Who still uses checks?” Using checks does seem like an anachronism.

Almost every store has a credit card machine. Bills can easily be paid automatically online or by phone. There is very little need to even have a checkbook in day-to-day life. Thus, the check-writer at the grocery store annoys us.

Nevertheless, there is one entity to which Americans routinely write checks: the IRS.

Every year, millions of Americans dust off their checkbooks when it is time to pay the government. For one group of people, that is going to become more difficult in 2016. Starting next year, the IRS will no longer accept checks for $100 million or more. This is because large checks have to be processed manually, which leads to more mistakes. Forbes reported this story in “IRS to Refuse Checks Greater Than $100 Million Beginning in 2016.”

Of course, this new policy will not affect most people. On the other hand, if you are an estate administrator of a large estate with estate taxes to pay, then take note and arrange another method to pay the IRS.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: Forbes (September 8, 2015) “IRS to Refuse Checks Greater Than $100 Million Beginning in 2016.”

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