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On Wills or Not

In law school, I thought that I would enjoy doing estate work. I took 8 hours (two semesters) of Estate Planning. To date, I think that I have drafted a total of…. one will. That was in my first year of practice.

I thought I had a good plan for a law practice. Not so much!

Still, I do perk up when celebrity wills are discussed. Sometimes they have fascinating provisions. Leona Helmsley was the hotel owner/business woman who was known as the “Queen of Mean” because of the way that she treated her employees.

When she died, she excluded many relatives from her will. However, she did leave 12 million dollars to her dog Trouble.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry was the wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. She was much nicer in her will. She left $4 million dollars to her dogs with a provision that they be allowed to continue to live in one of her mansions. In addition, she allocated an additional 1 million dollars to any loyal employee who was willing to live with the dogs.

Recently, musician Prince passed away without a will. That brought to light additional celebrities who died without a will. Here’s the USA Today article that includes Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Sonny Bono. Curious lack of planning, except for Marley. He felt that estate planning was against his religion.

 

And for pic o’ day, a bit of responsibility… not!

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Stealing Identities

We now regularly hear stories of hackers stealing large amounts of credit information that include social security numbers, phone numbers and credit card numbers. When it happens to stores like Target, those who have a Target credit card immediately wonder, “How will this effect me?”.

Last year, all taxpayers of South Carolina were notified that the State of South Carolina’s computers had been hacked. Information relating to those tax filings were subject to theft. South Carolina officials weren’t sure what it meant but just said to be on the lookout, and then offered a credit reporting service.

The Orlando Sentinel brings us another story relating to identify theft. This time, celebrities were targeted. A 19-year-old named Luis Flores Jr. worked at a local Florida call center. Armed with a flash drive, he gained access to credit card numbers and managed to use this information to steal money by having monies directed into an account where he had access to withdraw it.

Florida authorities claim that he tried to access the bank accounts of Bill Gates, Beyonce, Ashton Kutcher and even the Director of the U.S. Marshals Service. According to criminal records filed in Orlando Federal Court, someone called American Express claiming to be Kim Kardashian. The person gave the representative of Amex the reality star’s private information and then changed the primary Social Security number on the account to the number belonging to Flores. The mailing address was also changed to the Florida apartment address of Flores.

After that event, Flores then tried to gain access to the accounts of Tom Cruise, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama. American Express reported the suspicious activity to the Secret Service and agents began surveillance of Flores. Then, the agents learned that Flores’ mother was also involved in the fraud. They were both charged in the scheme and pled guilty in October.

These facts show that such schemes might not even be that sophisticated. It portrays a system where it is too easy to get personal information to commit fraud. It makes me feel as though there is little defense except to continually check credit accounts to see if suspicious activities are apparent or unknown credit or bank accounts have been opened.

DID YOU KNOW that John Hancock and Charles Thomson were the only people to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4. 1776. The last signature occurred almost five years after that. (Thomas McKean)

And for pic o’ day:

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Ben Affleck Lessons

     This blog is to tell you about a July 4th event, give a recommendation about a fun place to stay, and to tell a business story reminder that involves Ben Affleck.

     Let me start at the beginning. For the holiday weekend, my wife and I went to West Virginia, to The Greenbrier. If you haven’t been there, I am attaching their website, because it has a little bit of everything including fishing; hunting; golf; spa “stuff” that includes their hot springs; and their new casino that can be only used by guests. But enough of that,  because this really isn’t a sales blog for the resort.

     This past weekend, they had a “Big Shindig” that included the opening of their new casino. Lots of celebrities were there. I was told that they were paid anywhere from 35K to 300K to be there, but “I was told” isn’t much of a source. In the above link, Jim Justice, who rescued the resort from bankruptcy last year, said that he spent over 2 Million for this grand opening.

      The celebrities included  Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck, Jessica Simpson, Brooke Shields, Lionel Richie, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Jane Seymour, Debbie Reynolds, Raquel Welch, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Barbara Eden and Elliot Gould.     Howard Stern’s wife, Beth Ostrosky, interviewed the above for “Extra”, so the red carpet activities must have been the real deal.

     To tie this in to my legal blog requires that I tell you the story as we were checking out. The bell captain came to get our luggage and asked how we enjoyed the weekend and did I like seeing the celebrities. I commented on such things as how great Raquel Welch looked and how friendly several others really seemed.

     He went on to volunteer that the worst celebrity that he interacted with…… Ben Affleck. Here’s where the business reminder came in. I have always been told that one happy person tells 3-5 people and one unhappy person tells 20. In this instance, I bet that more than 20 will hear that story. 

     For our law practice, it means to stay on top of it by taking care of our clients. It really doesn’t make much sense to advertise for new business if your current clients aren’t happy. In addition, I guess that Affleck will continue to wonder why his movies aren’t well attended Apart from that, I can’t wait to go back and learn more business lessons.

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