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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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Wills, Estates and Frequent Flyer Miles

Imagine everyone gathering around the holiday table. Conversation turns personal. Someone asks, “Have you ever talked about what will happen to your frequent flier miles when you die?” You’re right, no one will ask it. In fact, it’s outrageous. Except, the NY Times just did an article on it suggesting that people should consider their mileage, when they consider estate planning.

Here is a short version of the discussion in the article. Some airlines allow you to transfer your mileage and some do not. Airlines that allow it: American, US Airways and JetBlue. Those that don’t allow transfer: Delta and United.

United suggests that if you know the password of a deceased loved one, that you just log in and make a reservation for yourself. Something seems a bit seedy about that.

Estate attorney Mark Gold suggests listing  in a will the passwords, frequent flyer miles and accounts, and hotel points, and then all bequethed. He suggests the following document language: “I give and bequeath the miles or points in my American Airlines AAdvantage account, my Starwood Preferred Guest account, and all other loyalty, mileage and points or similar accounts to (insert)”.

I remember interesting cases during law school that became part of our study in the class of “Wills and Estates”. Beyond that, I always admit that this is a topic of constant change. Plus, states do have different ways of treating estate divisions. Having said that, I still find this topic a bit unusual. But, I guess that it can amount to a great deal of worth. So, no reason to waste a trip!

Speaking of frequent, here is a pic o’ day of shopping:

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