Building Legacies that Last Estate Planning and Elder Law

George Michael’s Estate: Who Inherits?

Bigstock-Family-Portrait-At-Christmas-4881212[1]Singer George Michael died suddenly on Christmas Day. He has no children of his own and it is believed that he made arrangements for his several godchildren to inherit vast sums from him.

George Michael died unexpectedly on Christmas Day. He was found dead from heart failure by his boyfriend.  

Michael was known to have given generously to charities throughout his life, but he is believed to still have an estate worth at least £100 million (US$121.8 million).

The details of his estate plan are starting to leak out, according to the Daily Mail in "George Michael's £100M fortune 'will go to his Godchildren': Offspring of his celebrity friends could inherit tens of millions EACH after star died without heirs."

Michael did not have any children, but he was a godparent to some of his friends' children, including those of a former WHAM! bandmate and a former member of the Spice Girls. These godchildren will each inherit a large portion of his estate. He is also believed to have left provisions for his sister and his cousin's children, who are also his godchildren.

More details about George Michael's estate plan are likely to come out in the next few months, as the estate is settled by the courts in the U.K.  If George Michael had lived in Maryland, his heirs would have to pay the Maryland inheritance tax.  For more information about estate planning, contact Profit Law Firm.

Reference: Daily Mail (Dec. 27, 2016) "George Michael's £100M fortune 'will go to his Godchildren': Offspring of his celebrity friends could inherit tens of millions EACH after star died without heirs."

 

Suing Yourself on Behalf of an Estate

Bigstock-Young-man-holding-a-trash-bin--26453660[1]Estate executors and personal representatives have a duty to the estate to pursue any causes of action that the estate might have, but what if that means they have to sue themselves? A case in Utah answers that question.

If a deceased person or the estate of that person has reasonable legal recourse against some other person or entity, then it is ordinarily the duty of the estate's representative to pursue that action in court. However, a recent case in Utah shows how that can lead to interesting results.

A man died in a one-vehicle accident when his common law wife was driving. The wife was the man's sole heir and was named the personal representative of his estate. In that capacity, on behalf of the estate, she filed a lawsuit against herself for wrongful death. Then, in her capacity as an individual and the defendant in the wrongful death case, she moved to dismiss the case on the grounds she could not sue herself.

The trial court dismissed the lawsuit.

The grounds?

Public policy prevents someone from suing themselves.

However, the Utah Supreme Court reversed that and allowed the wrongful death lawsuit to continue.

The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog discussed this case in "Case Summary on Suing Yourself as Personal Representative for Wrongful Death."

At first glance, this might seem ridiculous and pointless, since the woman is the sole heir. Even if the estate collects money from the lawsuit, it would just go to her. However, there are a couple of things that could be going on here.

Before any heirs receive their inheritances from the estate, any debts of the deceased have to be paid. It could be that the estate cannot cover the man's debts, unless judgment is obtained against the woman.

Another possibility is that the woman had insurance at the time of the accident. In that case, the insurance company might be required to indemnify her if she is held liable for wrongful death.

Thus, the estate would not really be collecting from her. It would be collecting from the insurance company.

Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Dec. 22, 2016) "Case Summary on Suing Yourself as Personal Representative for Wrongful Death"