Out of state real property carries extra challenges in probate court when compared to other assets. Because such property cannot be transported across state lines, the state in which it resides has an interest in its administration, and a separate probate process is usually required to ensure that the proper parties receive title.
If something were to happen to you, do you know who would get your possessions and money? You may have ideas as to who should receive what, but unless there are specific legal documents in place, your estate will be divided by New Jersey's intestacy laws. This generally means that your property or the money obtained from selling your property will go to your nearest relatives, regardless of whether you want it to or not.
We have written before on this blog about the unfortunate situation with the body of actor Sherman Hemsley, famous for his role in "The Jeffersons." As our regular readers know, Hemsley's body has been in limbo due to a probate dispute, and has been prevented from being buried. Fortunately, the situation was resolved last Friday, when a Texas Court ruled in favor of Flora Enchinton, the woman Hemsley appointed as his sole beneficiary and the executrix of his estate.
Probate disputes can get pretty personal, but they don't often involve disputes over what to do with the estate owner's body. That is the case presently with the estate of Sherman Hemsley, the actor who played the curmudgeonly George Jefferson on the television series "All in the Family" and its spinoff "The Jeffersons."
On Wednesday, Michael Jackson's three children were assigned a new guardian as part of a growing power struggle over the late entertainer's multimillion-dollar estate. The new guardian, Tito Jackson, was appointed at his request after a week of conflicting reports regarding the health and whereabouts of 82-year-old Katherine Jackson, the appointed guardian of Michael's three children, named in his will. Katherine had been missing when the children returned from a camp, and the judge determined that a temporary guardian was necessary.
The court appointed public administrator for the deceased copper heiress Huguette Clark is reportedly seeking to have recipients return $37 million in gifts. According to the administrator, Clark's caretakers took advantage of her feebleness and exerted undue influence on her to make the gifts. In addition, the administrator has asked for an investigation into whether a hospital where Clark received care should be required to return a $6 million Manet and whether an art gallery in Washington should be required to return a $250,000 donation.
Communicating with one's children can be difficult when it comes to serious issues, particularly issues of inheritance and estate planning. Sometimes people put the conversation off, thinking they will have time to do so later. Unfortunately, too many people do this so long that their family is unprepared when the time comes to wrap up their estate.
In our previous post, we began looking at a legal dispute over the estate of deceased actor Gary Coleman. As we noted last time, Coleman's ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend are both laying claim to his estate. The size of Coleman's estate is unknown, though court documents reportedly list a $324,000 house and a pension. Price's attorney has said that the suit is more over future rights to Coleman's name and brand than his current assets.
Because it makes for interesting writing for this blog, we love to see estate disputes make headlines. Well, we don't love it exactly, as much as see it as an opportunity for discussing the important of cleaning up one's estate planning. Because, while few estate plans can be completely insulated from all possible challenges in probate court, it is always worth looking at how to reduce that risk.
The most important thing we try to emphasize on this blog, in addition to various tips relating to specific aspects of estate planning, is the importance of writing a will. This means that one should not procrastinate.