Post it Notes vs Wills
A recent episode of The Good Wife, was entertaining although wildly inaccurate under Illinois law.
I'm applying Illinois law because the show is set in Chicago.
The main story line is about a woman who died without a will. She is known to have put post it notes on items of personal property with the name of the person intended to receive that item. She is survived by her two adult children.
When Alicia (attorney for the daughter) David Lee (her arch rival and attorney for the son), enter the decedent's home, the executor admits them. Inside they find yellow stick on papers all over the floor.
The court hearing takes place in front of the Honorable Jane Curtin of the probate court after five commercials. David Lee puts on experts saying there is trace residue and a falling pattern when you use post papers that fall off. Of course they are trying to get at the $8 million dollar Chagall painting owned by the dead lady. They claim the post if had particles of the paint from the frame of the painting and where it was found was consistent with falling off the Chagall.
They claim that the note attached to the painting was in favor of the housekeeper. We suspect the housekeeper and the son want to split the value of the Chagall.
When a rumba vacuum was introduced as a smoking gun, I went to sleep.
Here are some of the problems: an executor cannot be appointed unless there is a will; you cannot earmark items of person property with notes, and the law that prevents the housekeeper from inheriting has more provisions than stated.
Illinois law, under these facts would divide the estate equally between the two surviving children. Why would the son want to split with the housekeeper instead of his sister?
Should television programs come with a disclaimer?
Real law is entertaining. Imagine the scenario where Mom has her daughter drive her to Alicia's to make a will on Monday. The daughter receives eighty percent of her estate and her son, a mere twenty percent. When the son learns what happens on Thursday, he drives his mother to Perry Masons' great granddaughter, and under this plan, the son receives ninety percent of the estate and the daughter gets ten percent. The next Monday, the daughter finds the second set of documents. She convinces her mother to add her name to all of her accounts and real estate as a joint tenant. After the second commercial break the house is sold and by Wednesday, less than two weeks after the first will was signed, we see the daughter, mom and Alicia, sitting on a beach in the south of France drinking Champagne.
The final scene shows a rumba knocking over a walker.
Or, father owns three buildings, one housing a very popular tavern in Chicago, Illinois. He has two adult children. His younger son has him sign deeds giving the properties to him. The son immediately sells the real estate and pays his attorney to defend him against racketeering charges.
The daughter receives a frantic call from Dad, saying the sheriff is about to evict him from his home, and they call Alicia.
When Dad gets his money and property back after the final commercial break, he removes his mask. It's the son, dad died six months earlier.
Is your interest piqued?
This article is written for your entertainment and is not legal advice.
Please consult an attorney, and not Alicia.
Una Tiers is a real attorney, working under an assumed name, writing mysteries that have a wee bit of truth to them.
Wills fascinate me. You may be interested in how some high profile people handled them.
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Mark Twain and Royalties
Mark Twain, 1835-1910.
Mark Twain’s birthday is on November 30th and his estate plan contains an important clause for authors.
Descriptions of Mark Twain's (aka Samuel Clemens) Last Will and Testament are at odds as to the manner in which the document was prepared.
Some report that his will was a typewritten document and other reports say that Mark Twain wrote it by hand. His expressed sentiments about the typewriter (not good) suggest he wrote it out by hand. The document available was typewritten.
The legal language in the document suggests that he had a co-author, his attorney.
In his will, Twain talks about the management of his writings, and who should have input on decisions about them. The specifics were, according to the document, discussed with his daughter and close friend during his lifetime and were not spelled out in the will. The royalties for his works were paid into a trust for the benefit of his daughter and later to his grandchildren.
Authors, have you accounted for your royalties in your will or estate plan? Will they fall into the residue of your estate? The residue is everything that you have not specifically left to a particular person.
This article is part of Lettuce Read Wills, available on Amazon e Books.
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Una Tiers is a Chicago author who writes humorcides, mysteries with humor, set in Chicago.
An author on the brink of success.Links