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    DISINHERITED SPOUSES AND THE RIGHT OF ELECTIVE SHARE

    Ric Ocasek, famed singer for The Cars, recently passed away leaving behind a will that purportedly removes his estranged wife, Paulina Porizkova, as a beneficiary of his estate.  Ocasek and Porizkova were in the process of divorcing when Ocasek died; however, the divorce was not finalized, and the two were still legally married.  Removing one’s spouse from an estate plan – often referred to as disinheriting a spouse – is common, particularly when spouses are separating and divorcing.  States that have adopted the Uniform Probate Code, or similar statutes, create protection for a disinherited spouse in the form of the right of elective share.   What is Elective Share?  …

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    INTERPRETATION OF A WILL: WHAT DO PER CAPITA AND PER STIRPES MEAN?

    The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently released an opinion in the matter Brawley v. Sherrill.  The parties were disputing the interpretation of a will, which provided per capita distribution of estate assets to the testator’s children, but per stirpes distribution to her grandchildren.  What do these terms mean, and how do they work together in the same estate plan?   Per Capita and Per Stirpes Defined   For estate plans, the term “surviving” identifies individuals who are alive at the time the testator (the individual leaving the Will) dies.   A per capita distribution plan divides estate assets equally to surviving heirs at the level of descendancy stated in…

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    WRONGFUL DEATH ACTIONS

    Adam Patrick Browne’s life tragically ended on October 8, 2018.  He was run over by a car driven by his former fiancée, Victoria Keaveny, after she consumed alcohol at a restaurant in Gastonia, North Carolina. Pursuant to a settlement filed under seal in Gaston County Superior Court, that restaurant will pay wrongful death proceeds to Browne’s estate for its role in the tragic incident, namely serving alcohol to Keaveny, who at the time was 19 years old.  Although nothing could ever fully repair the harm of losing a loved one, wrongful death claims offer a potential civil remedy when the death is caused by the wrongful conduct of another party.…

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    JOHN SINGLETON CONSERVATORSHIP AND ESTATE

    John Singleton entered Hollywood in a truly historic fashion.  Not only was he the first African American to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Director for his debut film Boyz N the Hood, but he did so at the age of 24, making him the youngest ever nominee for the category.  Sadly, Singleton’s career was cut short when he died last week at age 51 following a stroke.   Before his death, Singleton’s daughter, Cleopatra, disputed the characterization of Singleton’s medical condition by Singleton’s mother and business manager, Shelia Ward.  Ward claimed Singleton was in a coma, petitioning the court in Los Angeles to be named temporary conservator for…

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    Congratulations to Trey Lindley and Satie Munn

    Lindley Law is pleased to announce Trey Lindley was selected as a 2019 Super Lawyer in Estate and Trust Litigation by Super Lawyers Magazine, making this his eighth consecutive honor from the publication. Lindley Law is also pleased to announce Satie Munn was selected as a 2019 Rising Star in Business Litigation by Super Lawyers Magazine, her first such honor from the publication. Super Lawyers Magazine recognizes outstanding attorneys using a multi-step process that involves soliciting nominations from attorneys across North Carolina (lawyers are not allowed to vote for themselves), a third-party evaluation across 12 key categories, and a peer evaluation by a highly credentialed panel of attorneys. Finalists have attained a high…

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    ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ that Aretha Franklin’s children have ‘Respect’ and Are Not a ‘Chain of Fools’

    American singer and songwriter Aretha Franklin passed away on August 16 at the age of 76 after battling advanced pancreatic cancer. In the days following her passing, her four sons filed documents with the Michigan Probate Court stating that Aretha passed without a will or trust, and claimed to be interested parties in her estate. Aretha’s niece, Sabrina Garrett Owens is the personal representative to administer the estate. When a person dies with a will, the probate court uses that and other documents (such as a trust), to guide them in determining the proper distribution of the deceased’s assets. However, when a person dies without a will, or “intestate,” their…

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    The Buzz About Aldrin’s Competency

    On June 7, 2018, Buzz Aldrin, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and the second man to walk on the moon, filed a lawsuit against two of his children, Andrew and Janice Aldrin, and his former business manager, Christina Korp.  The lawsuit responds to a May 2018 Florida Court filing in which Andrew Aldrin, Janice Aldrin, and Christina Korp requested appointment as Buzz Aldrin’s legal guardians due to Buzz’s “cognitive decline” and his recent episodes of paranoia and confusion.  Buzz Aldrin’s lawsuit claims Andrew Aldrin and Christina Korp took control of his “personal credit cards, bank accounts, trust money, space memorabilia, space artifacts, social media accounts, and all elements of the…

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    Florida Detectives attempt to unlock a cell phone with a dead man’s finger

    In today’s technology driven world it seems our phones are attached to our hips whether we like it or not. We are driven by the accessibility and connection that these tiny machines provide us. But what right do you have regarding your phone after your death? In March, Florida police pulled over Linus Phillips for illegally tinted windows.  Upon speaking with Mr. Phillips, Officer Steiner detected the smell of marijuana.  However, before Officer Steiner was able to perform a search of the vehicle, Mr. Phillips began driving in reverse.  Officer Steiner was dragged by the vehicle before he fired his weapon in self-defense and killed Mr. Phillips. Detectives wanted to…

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    Harper Lee’s Estate Sues Aaron Sorkin’s Production of “To Kill a Mockingbird”: When Can Estates Sue and Be Sued?

    Famed Hollywood writer, director, and producer Aaron Sorkin is on the defending end of a lawsuit brought by Harper Lee’s estate.  The estate alleges that his adaptation of the Pulitzer prize-winning “To Kill a Mockingbird” strays too far in the story and the development of some key characters from the original 1960 best selling book. In case you haven’t read it (spoiler alert), “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a favorite among attorneys and the general public alike. At its heart, it is the story of a wrongfully accused African-American man in 1930s Alabama. With prominent local attorney Atticus Finch as his defense counsel, both men struggle with the prejudice and…

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    7 Things To Know About Unclaimed Property

    1) You may be entitled to money held by the state.   Have you ever received a letter from a law firm or private investigator informing you of unclaimed property or cash and offering help? Last year, I got such a letter from Californian private investigator. Sensing a scam and having never heard of such a thing, my investigation began. The private investigator’s website seemed suspicious and after googling “unclaimed property,” I found that states hold unclaimed funds until the owners claim them. It is a completely legitimate part of state government, but a private investigator is not necessary in most cases.       2) What is unclaimed property?…