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Carlin Comments

in Estate, Trust & Probate, News

In a series of three two-part articles, Weston Hurd partner Angela Carlin comments on recent probate and appellate court decisions involving: clear and convincing evidence of a decedent’s intentions in “The Love-Letter Will;” the inheritance rights of a decedent’s illegitimate child in “Another Disappointed Illegitimate Heir;” and fiduciary responsibilities in “Inexperience Does Not Excuse Late Filing of a Tax Return or Payment of Taxes.”

The Love-Letter Will

In the Estate of Eric Anthony Hand, an appellate court upheld the decision of the probate court denying the application of his widow and appellant therein, Natalie Hand, to admit to probate the purported will of her late husband, Eric. The parties were married in April 2014. Eric died on September 7, 2014. He was survived by Natalie and four minor children from a previous marriage. Eric’s former wife was Shannon who is the minor children’s mother. In searching for a will, the appellant discovered, in a box of love letters she received from Eric over the years, a three-page handwritten letter dated January 23, 2014 (the “Love Letter Will”). Unlike the other love letters, decedent Eric signed this letter with his full name. It consisted of three paragraphs. The last paragraph read as follows: “As my last will and testament, I appoint you the primary beneficiary of all I have and all I have worked for. With the complete trust that you will look after the children, my business interests and all other things that I have put together over the years and not let anyone try to deprive you of those things.” Read more 2017 – Estate Planner – Carlin Comments – The Love-Letter Will (Parts 1 and 2)

Another Disappointed Illegitimate Heir

In In re Estate of Burdette, the appellate court in September 2016, upheld the probate court overruling a purported daughter’s efforts to inherit from her father’s estate. Appellant Jackie Marie Burdette Wright contended that the probate court erred in ruling that she could not inherit from her father’s estate by failing to accept her birth certificate listing her father as prima facia evidence of the parent-child relationship, and violating her constitutional rights in failing to treat her with equal standing to decedent’s two natural children. Her father’s estate, as Appellee, responded that Wright did not prove a legally established parent-child relationship through: 1) a paternity action, or 2) any other statutory relationship. Read more —  2016 – Estate Planner – Carlin Comments – Another Disappointed Illegitimate Heir (Parts 1 and 2)

Inexperience Does Not Excuse Late Filing of a Tax Return or Payment of Taxes

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on September 22, 2016, in Janice C. Specht and Jon Hoffheimer as Co-Fiduciaries of the Estate of Virginia L. Escher v. United States of America, upheld the decision of the district court in granting the motion for summary judgment in favor of the Internal Revenue Service by affirming that an estate fiduciary was liable for late filing and late payment of an estate tax return when the fiduciary unreasonably relied upon her attorney who committed malpractice in representing the estate. Read more — 2016 – Estate Planner – Carlin Comments – Inexperience Does Not Excuse Late Filing of Tax Return or Payment of Taxes – Parts 1 and 2