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July 2013

Will Conservatorship Work for Amanda Bynes?

For months, Amanda Bynes has been like a runaway train charging out-of-control down the tracks.  Multiple arrests … bizarre behavior … friends begging for someone to help her.  Many people feared a dramatic crash and fiery explosion.  Amanda Bynes July

A much smaller fire may have paved the way for her to get the help she obviously needs.  Last week it was reported by multiple outlets, such as the New York Daily News, that Amanda Bynes set her pants on fire and accidentally doused her pet Pomeranian with gasoline in the driveway of an unsuspecting elderly woman.  She reportedly fled the scene, tried to wash the dog off at a convenience store, and fled again.  Bynes was picked up by authorities, who had her committed to a 72-hour psychiatric hospitalization.

This latest incident has given her parents the impetus to file for conservatorship over her.  They filed last week, and had their first court hearing Friday morning.

Many people think it’s about time.  But filing for guardianship or conservatorship over a loved one is never an easy choice.  These are onerous court proceedings, through which someone loses the right to make even basic decisions, like where to live, what to spend money on, and who to spend time with.  Normally, they are reserved for elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or those with developmental disabilities.  They should never be undertaken lightly, especially for a younger adult.

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James Gandolfini's Estate Planning Mess

James Gandolfini, who won three Emmy awards portraying mob-boss Tony Soprano for eight years on HBO’s The Sopranos, died on June 19th.  That day, he was touring Rome with his 13-year old son, Michael, when he suffered the sudden and fatal heart attack.  James-gandolfini

Gandolfini had parlayed his acting success into a reported net worth of $70 million.  Last December, he had the foresight to sign a new Last Will and Testament.  Gandolfini also had created at least one trust -- and perhaps more -- as referenced in his will.  While it would appear at first blush that Gandolfini did the proper estate planning, the recent revelation of his will (which you can read here) shows otherwise.

To put it bluntly, James Gandolfini's estate is a mess.  Gandolfini failed to do the proper tax planning that would have enabled his estate to avoid -- or at least reduce and delay -- paying estate taxes.  As reported by the New York Daily News, Gandolfini's planning failure subjects 80% of his estate (although, it is actually more than 80%) to the federal estate tax.  At a rate of 40% for all assets over $5.25 million, that totals more than  $20 million in federal estate taxes alone.

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Help For Families With Will Contests And Other Probate Disputes

Do you know a family who is arguing over an estate after a loved one has passed away?  Whether it's someone facing a possible probate court battle, wondering about contesting a will, or confused over how a family trust is being handled, finding an early solution before fighting erupts is critical. Danielle and Andy 2013

Through the years, Danielle and Andy Mayoras have worked with too many families embroiled in estate and probate conflicts to count.  As a result, they've started a new project based on their commitment to help families find resolutions outside of probate court and without spending money on attorneys.

Danielle and Andy are authors of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!, which uses true stories of celebrity estate errors to teach people how to protect their heirs.  As Forbes contributors, Danielle and Andy regularly analyze celebrity stories to provide lessons for families across the country.

The husband-and-wife duo now wants to combine their legal expertise to help select families even more.  Danielle is an estate planning and elder law attorney who has counseled families for years to avoid probate and estate conflict.  Andy is a probate litigation attorney, who regularly represents families already in conflict over will dispute cases, estate disputes, trusts, and other probate disputes, through litigation, mediation, and arbitration.

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