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    TENNESSEE COURT OF APPEALS DETERMINES HANDWRITTEN NOTE IN BIBLE LEGALLY AMENDED WILL—WOULD A NORTH CAROLINA COURT REACH THE SAME RESULT?

    The Tennessee Court of Appeals in Nashville recently held that a decedent’s handwritten note in a Bible—which belonged to a close friend but was found among the decedent’s personal effects after her death—constituted a valid codicil that amended her will.  A codicil is “[a] written amendment or addition to an existing will,” and, as with the preparation and execution of wills themselves, states have specific requirements that must be met for a codicil to be valid and legally change the decedent’s will.  In addition, some states allow wills and codicils to be handwritten, or “holographic,” and apply a more lenient set of requirements for the execution of such documents. In…

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    ALEX MURDAUGH FACING FELONY CHARGES AND DENIED BOND FOR STEALING $3 MILLION SETTLEMENT FROM LAWSUIT HE ORCHESTRATED AGAINST HIMSELF

    Now-suspended South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh has been ever-present in the news lately regarding a string of suspicious deaths and illegal activity.  After the still-unsolved double homicide of his wife and son in early June, Murdaugh’s resignation from his law firm amid allegations of misappropriation of client funds, an apparent botched suicide-for-hire plot in early September, and the South Carolina Supreme Court suspending his law license, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) opened a criminal investigation into Murdaugh regarding the death and estate proceedings of Gloria Satterfield, Murdaugh’s former housekeeper who died of injuries from an apparent trip-and-fall accident she sustained while working in Murdaugh’s home in February 2018.…

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    CHANGES TO NORTH CAROLINA’S STATUTES LOWER THE BAR FOR VALID HOLOGRAPHIC WILLS

    When it comes to end of life planning, ideally you will consult an attorney to assist you in preparing your estate plan.  However, not everyone has access to legal help, and people might find themselves in a situation in which there is insufficient time to consult an attorney, such as in the case of rapidly declining health.  For this reason, many states, including North Carolina, have statutes regarding “holographic wills.”  A holographic will is generally a handwritten document signed by the testator and is typically not witnessed or notarized. In North Carolina, a holographic will was previously defined as a will (1) written entirely in the handwriting of the testator,…

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    NFL PLAYER MICHAEL THOMAS SUES LANDLORD FOR $1M OVER ISSUES WITH HIS $60K-PER-MONTH RENTAL HOUSE

    Michael Thomas, a wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints, is suing his landlord for over $1 million regarding a 9,800-square-foot house he rented in Bel Air, California.  The house had six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a gym, and a pool, and Thomas committed to rent the property for $60,000 per month for two months during the NFL’s offseason.  Thomas reportedly moved out of the rental property after multiple maintenance issues with the pool, garage, and kitchen appliances as well as repeated, unannounced visits by his landlord in violation of California law, which requires a landlord to give “reasonable notice” before entering the property.  After paying $120,000 for two months’ rent…

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    RECENT CHANGES TO THE NORTH CAROLINA WAGE AND HOUR ACT

    The North Carolina Wage and Hour Act is codified at N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95‑25.1 et seq. and governs employment-related topics such as minimum wage, overtime, youth employment, wage payment, payment to separated employees, wages in dispute, withholding of wages, vacation pay plans, and notice and recordkeeping requirements.  Both employers and employees should be familiar with the provisions of the Act, as employers who violate the Act can be liable for two times the amount of any wrongfully withheld wages, plus attorneys’ fees and costs, as well as other monetary penalties for violating other provisions of the Act. Recently, on July 8, 2021, Senate Bill 208 was ratified and became…

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    KENDALL JENNER SUED FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT FOR SKIPPING A PHOTO SHOOT DURING THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC: DOES SHE HAVE A VALID DEFENSE?

    Reality show icon, fashion model, and now “defendant”—Kendall Jenner was recently sued for $1.8 million by Italian fashion company Liu Jo for allegedly breaching a modeling contract.  The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, claims Jenner agreed to appear in two photo shoots but only participated in one.  The contract purportedly stated Jenner would receive $1.5 million and a 20% service fee for appearing in both photo shoots, and Liu Jo delivered a “significant portion” of this total payment to Jenner, expending about $1.3 million after travel expenses and other costs associated with Jenner’s singular appearance.  The second photo shoot, which Jenner…

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    THE NORTH CAROLINA MOTOR VEHICLE REPAIR ACT—KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

    Have you ever received a bill for an amount that was completely unexpected?  Or worse—you obtain a quote for a service, and then the company charges you well above the quoted price, tacking on fees and trying to explain away the discrepancy.  We’ve all been there.  However, when it comes to your car repairs, you shouldn’t be surprised by your bill, and, if you are, you might have a claim against the repair shop. The North Carolina Motor Vehicle Repair Act applies to all motor vehicle repair shops in North Carolina, with a few exceptions.  Pursuant to § 20‑354.3 of the Act, the repair shop is required to provide the customer…

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    U.S. GOVERNMENT SELLS WU-TANG CLAN ALBUM TO ANONYMOUS BUYER FOR AN UNDISCLOSED AMOUNT AFTER SEIZING IT TO SATISFY A CRIMINAL FORFEITURE—CAN THEY DO THAT?

    Wu-Tang Clan, the Staten Island based group known for pioneering their own style of hip-hop, made headlines in 2014 upon revealing the existence of a secret album entitled Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, only one copy of which would ever be produced.  Wu-Tang envisioned the album as a piece of fine art and a single-sale collector’s item.  In 2015, the album was sold at a private auction to an individual later identified as notorious Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, who reportedly paid $2 million. Fast-forward to 2018, when Shkreli was convicted in federal court of securities fraud, and the United States Government seized $7.36 million of Shkreli’s assets, including…

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    BIPARTISAN HOUSE BILL KNOWN AS THE “FREE BRITNEY ACT” PROPOSED IN RESPONSE TO LATEST SURGE OF THE #FREEBRITNEY MOVEMENT

    In 2008, Britney Spears’s father, Jamie Spears, established a conservatorship for the famous pop star after concerns that her mental health was deteriorating.  A conservatorship is a legal arrangement in which the court appoints a “conservator”—which can be an individual or an organization—to manage the affairs of the “ward,” an individual who the court finds can no longer manage his or her own affairs.  In Britney’s case, the court appointed her father as conservator to manage Britney’s estate and physical well-being and L.A. attorney Andrew Wallet as co‑conservator to assist in managing her finances. Britney’s conservatorship largely stayed out of the headlines until April 2019, when the #FreeBritney movement was…

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    DISPUTE OVER ESTATE OF JAMES BROWN SETTLES AFTER NEARLY FIFTEEN YEARS OF LITIGATION

    James Brown, who died in 2006, left a will most notable for seeking to establish a charity that could distribute millions of dollars via education scholarships to poor and underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia, with his family largely left out of the estate plan.  A major issue regarding the distribution of Brown’s estate was his children and grandchildren’s desire to share in the proceeds of Brown’s songwriting copyrights.  Also at issue was the value of Brown’s estate (estimated by some at up to $100 million) and the validity of Brown’s marriage to backup singer Tommie Rae Hynie, who acted as Brown’s widow following his death, until the Supreme…