Joint Ownership Feed

Trial & Heirs' Top 5 Reasons To Beware Joint Ownership

Celebrities are not the only ones to make mistakes with their estate planning.  It happens to people all across the country on a regular basis.  The end result — just like with the rich and famous — often is an ugly and expensive family fight in court.  One of the most common estate planning mistakes that people make is joint ownership.   Elderly woman

For the most part, we’re not talking about when a husband and wife have joint bank accounts or the title to their home is held in both of their names.  While not ideal for estate planning, this is quite common and can often be used without problems, except in many second-marriage situations or large estates that may suffer adverse tax consequences.

The area where we see significant problems, however, is when a parent adds a child’s name to an asset, such as a bank account, investment, or real estate.  This is often done to help with bill paying, as a will-substitute to avoid probate court (often called a “poor-man’s will”), or simply to help an elderly loved one who needs assistance managing his or her assets.  This is a big no-no!

Continue reading "Trial & Heirs' Top 5 Reasons To Beware Joint Ownership" »

6 Tips to Avoid Exploitation of Elderly by Family Member

Danielle Mayoras was recently quoted in this interesting article by the Detroit Free Press about the growing epidemic of exploitation of the elderly.  It discussed a very sad case where a daughter took hundreds of thousands of dollars from her elderly mother and now is in jail saying the money is gone and she can't return it.Elderly woman

This is one example of how more and more families are facing the devastation caused by exploitation of elderly loved ones, often by a family member or caregiver.

So how do families protect their golden seniors, whose lifetime of savings can often be a tempting target for desperate or unethical people?  There are no magic answers, but here are a few Trial & Heirs Tips that we provided to the Detroit Free Press which ran next to the newspaper story:

Continue reading "6 Tips to Avoid Exploitation of Elderly by Family Member" »

Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! The Video Preview

Curious about how celebrity estate errors can help you protect yourself, your family, and your heirs?  This video introduces our book, Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! by giving an overview of will and trust contests, using the Anna Nicole Smith case as an example.  Anyone who faces a probate fight like this one has to learn their legal rights!


Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at awmayoras @

Follow us on Google+

New Book To Help Avoid Celebrity Estate Planning Blunders

“Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!” Explores High-Profile Cases & Offers Expert Advice



The highly publicized estate battles of several deceased celebrities have cast a bright spotlight on the importance of having the proper estate planning. Although mega-rich celebrities seem to be affected overwhelmingly by these brutal family squabbles, the new book


"Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!" is designed to help every family, regardless of income level, avoid the financial pitfalls that drained bank accounts and created huge family rifts for the dozens of superstars profiled in the book. 

“Trial & Heirs” uses real stories to help readers steer clear of the same celebrity “estate errors” as they plan for their own “heirs.” The stories cover well known legal fights over famous fortunes: including the recent battles over Michael Jackson’s estate, along with other celebrities like Ted Kennedy; Anna Nicole Smith; Brooke Astor; Heath Ledger, Ray Charles; Princess Di; Jimi Hendrix; Frank Sinatra; Martin Luther King Jr.; and Rosa Parks… as well as many others that most people aren’t even aware of.  The book gives readers a front row seat in the courtroom while the authors replay the “tabloid drama”, point out what went wrong in these riveting cases, and teach readers how to avoid similar errors.

Continue reading "New Book To Help Avoid Celebrity Estate Planning Blunders" »

$19.6 million in Steve McNair's Estate, and 1 wild claim

I've written articles before about the mess that murdered NFL quarterback Steve McNair left behind because he died without a will.  I had predicted a possible fight between his widow and the two minor children from prior relationships, because she didn't list them as heirs on the probate filing.  The official story from the McNair camp is that they have to file claims with the Estate to be recognized as heirs, which they haven't yet done even though they both have attorneys representing their interests.Steve McNair 2

My personal view:  it was inappropriate not to list the two kids, and perhaps his widow, Mechelle McNair, realized it afterward.  Regardless, it now appears that the children won't have to fight to prove they are entitled to inherit, at least for now.

But even with one fight avoided, the Steve McNair Estate is far from easy.  First, there's the matter of what's in the estate.  His widow's attorney recently filed an inventory listing estate assets at around $19.6 million.  Most of this money (about $16.9 million) was invested in stocks and bonds.  McNair also owned at least two corporations, one of which was a cattle business called McNair Farms, Inc.  (Quarterbacking and cattle farming does go hand in hand, doesn't it?)


Continue reading "$19.6 million in Steve McNair's Estate, and 1 wild claim" »

Want to spend eternity on top of Marilyn Monroe?

Any lawyer specializing in the probate and estate planning field has heard many stories of people going to great lengths to maximize what they can leave for their children.  This one ranks right up there with the best of them.Marilyn Monroe crypt

Elsie Poncher's late husband is currently buried in a crypt directly on top of Marilyn Monroe.  He's been there for the last 23 years.  Poncher owns the tomb right next to it, and plans to move her husband into it so she can sell the one directly above Monroe.  Why?  So she can -- hopefully -- raise enough money to pay off the mortgage on her Beverly Hills home.  Poncher wants to leave the valuable property free and clear to her children.

But the mortgage is 1.6 million dollars.  So where did Poncher turn to raise so much cash?  To Ebay of course.  You can see the sale listing here.  The bidding opened at $500,000.  Right now, the highest bid is $4.5 million -- and there are still several days to go! 

Continue reading "Want to spend eternity on top of Marilyn Monroe?" »