January 2014 Archives

Lack of estate planning can place a burden on relatives

Florida remains a popular destination for retirees, and issues concerning senior citizens are treated with importance in the state. A report published on Jan. 20 in JAMA Internal Medicine highlights a growing trend in healthcare where family members are left to make difficult medical decisions on behalf of elderly relatives who are no longer able to do so for themselves. The research team behind the report interviewed the doctors of 1,083 elderly hospital patients, and they found that only 7.4 percent of them had a living will in place. This lack of estate planning can put children and spouses in a difficult position, and it is a growing challenge for the healthcare industry.

Heirs to Michelina's fortune dispute trust document

Heirs to the deceased founder of Michelina's frozen pizzas and several other well-known food brands are involved in a lawsuit in Florida involving his estate. In October of 2011, Jeno Paulucci, 93 years old and nearly blind, was hospitalized in the intensive-care unit of a Minnesota hospital. While there, he signed documents transferring the control of his $150 million estate from his Minnesota attorneys to two individuals in Florida, naming them co-trustees before dying seven weeks later. This has led to extensive probate litigation following Paulucci's death.

The impact of playing favorites with an estate

Estate planning is critical for people of any age in Florida and around the country. Having a clear plan in place can prevent discontent from brewing between family members. However, it is important that the children of the deceased get to share in the wealth when that person passes. If one child gets 80 percent of the money and the other children are left to split the rest, they may wonder why they were given such a small stake.

Trustees battle late artist's trust for $60 million in fees

The three trustees of the estate of a deceased Florida artist are now pursuing nearly $60 million in trustee fees. The trustees were friends of late pop artist Robert Rauschenberg, who died in 2008 and left a $600 million estate to a trust which would primarily benefit the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. The foundation's mission is to manage Mr. Rauschenberg's art and support charitable endeavors and other artists. The three friends were enlisted by Mr. Rauschenberg to administer and manage the trust.

Mandatory arbitration provisions may help

In 2007, the state of Florida became the first state to implement the mandatory arbitration clauses in trust litigation contexts. The process of arbitration is often less costly, more private and faster than prolonged court disputes. Mandatory arbitration has been implemented in commercial contracts for many decades. It is now that the same approach is being implemented in the world of trust agreements. The popularity of mandatory arbitration is still in its beginning stages.

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