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Probate Wars of the Rich and Famous: An Insider's Guide to Estate Planning and Probate Litigation


Praise for Probate Wars of the Rich & Famous

"If you want a treasure trove of good counsel, a fresh, creative and novel approach to legacy building, or just to be entertained—read this book."
H. Edward Wilkin III, CPA

"If the author's objective was to encourage readers to think about their own legacies and educate readers about the estates of the rich and famous—with a healthy dose of comedic surprises—then Fishkind has accomplished his objective."
Leslie E. Streitfeld, CLU, ChFC, CEP, LUTCF, RFC

"Fishkind's Probate Wars is entertaining, educational from a historical perspective, and very instructive from a legal and practical perspective."
Marshall Paul, Esq.

"Russell Fishkind did a magnificent job putting a spotlight on his 'legacy lessons' by using the very public disasters of the rich and famous. A humorous look at a serious topic."
William McDevitt, CPA

"Don't be caught dead without reading Probate Wars of the Rich and Famous!"
William L. Melillo, Jr., President, OIC

"A truly unique look at the lives and deaths of Anna Nicole, Michael Jackson, Jerry Garcia, Brooke Astor and Leona Helmsley through lenses I had never worn. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Bravo!"
Linda Hanley, President, NJALS

"An outstanding take on how life's journeys can be undermined by ineffective estate planning. If a family's battling over the assets of a departed soul, Fishkind gives the reader terrific practical advice. Well done."
Erik Wildstein, President, The Wildstein Group

Russell J. Fishkind is a Partner in the Personal Wealth, Estates and Trusts Department at Saul Ewing LLP, where he focuses on high net worth estate planning, business succession planning, estate administration, and probate litigation. He is also an Associate Adjunct Professor at New York University, where he teaches estate and business succession planning. Fishkind is the author of Legacy of a Lifetime, coauthor of the J.K. Lasser Pro Estate and Business Succession Planning (first and second editions) textbook, and a contributing author to Sophisticated Estate Planning: Using Tax Laws to Your Clients' Advantage published by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education. He was recognized as a Super Lawyer in 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Acknowledgments xi

About the Author xiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Legacy of a Lifetime 5

Legacy Lesson #1: The Estate Planning Effect 9

Legacy Lesson #2: Passing the Torch without Getting Burned 10

Legacy Lesson #3: The Holistic Approach 11

Legacy Lesson #4: Dropping the Gauntlet 12

Chapter 2 Stripping and Being Stripped 13

Legacy Lesson #5: The Elective Share and Prenuptial Agreement 27

Legacy Lesson #6: Providing Equitably Both for a Second Spouse and Children from a Prior Marriage 28

Legacy Lesson #7: Disinheriting a Family Member 30

Chapter 3 The Astor Disaster: A Legacy of Influence and Undue Influence 33

Legacy Lesson #8: Monitor the Health and the Wealth of a Loved One Who Is Ill and Vulnerable 79

Legacy Lesson #9: Anatomy of a Contested Estate 88

Legacy Lesson #10: Influence or Undue Influence? 91

Legacy Lesson #11: By Gift or by Theft? 94

Legacy Lesson #12: Time in a Bottle—Good Days and Bad Days 97

Legacy Lesson #13: Protecting against Fraud 99

Chapter 4 The Benevolent Queen of Mean 105

Legacy Lesson #14: Protect the Pooch 119

Legacy Lesson #15: The Grim Reaper's Silver Lining 124

Legacy Lesson #16: A Generation Skipped 127

Legacy Lesson #17: Buried, But Not Resting Peacefully 129

Legacy Lesson #18: The Mission Statement: A Legacy Builder or Buster 134

Chapter 5 A Sweet and Sour Legacy 139

Legacy Lesson #19: A Stitch in Time Saves Nine 148

Legacy Lesson #20: Respecting the Formalities of a Will Signing 149

Legacy Lesson #21: Clarity versus Ambiguity 150

Legacy Lesson #22: Videotaping a Will Signing 151

Chapter 6 Is This It? 153

Legacy Lesson #23: Raising Helen 168

Legacy Lesson #24: If You Want Privacy, Use a Revocable Trust 170

Legacy Lesson #25: The Business of the Business 171

Chapter 7 Lessons from the Dead 183

Legacy Lesson #26: A Legacy in the Hands of Fiduciaries 200

Legacy Lesson #27: Heirlooms Can Define a Legacy 202

Chapter 8 At the End of the Day 205

Appendix A Fact Sheet for Last Will and Testament 209

Appendix B Probate Litigation Fact Sheet 221

Bibliography 229

Index 251