Colorado Probate Blog - Wade Ash Woods Hill & Farley, P.C.

Herbert E. Tucker, IV, graduated from the University of Colorado (B.S. 1979) and Mississippi College (J.D. 1985). He is admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. District Court, U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit, and Colorado State Courts. Mr. Tucker served as a Law Clerk to Judge Field C. Benton, Denver Probate Court, 1985-1986. He is an ACTEC...

Herbert E. Tucker, IV, graduated from the University of Colorado (B.S. 1979) and Mississippi College (J.D. 1985). He is admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. District Court, U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit, and Colorado State Courts. Mr. Tucker served as a Law Clerk to Judge Field C. Benton, Denver Probate Court, 1985-1986. He is an ACTEC Fellow; a member of the Statutory Revisions Committee; Chair of the Probate Trial and Procedure Subcommittee; Co-Chair of the Colorado Dead Man Statute Subcommittee; Member of the Colorado Uniform Trust Code Subcommittee and Continuing Legal Education Subcommittee and is a member of the Douglas County, Colorado and American Bar Associations.

More

New California Legislation Protecting At-Risk Adults From Predatorial Care Custodians

A dependent adult is defined as an adult of any age who cannot provide properly for his or her basic needs. This includes difficulty managing finances and/or resisting fraud and undue influence by a trusted party.

Continue reading
  46 Hits
46 Hits

This is What a Social Security Scam Sounds Like

Be cautious of a new social security scam targeting the elderly and the vulnerable...

Continue reading
  49 Hits
49 Hits

Make Sure Your Surviving Spouse is Provided for in Your Estate Plan

     The Colorado Probate Code affords a surviving spouse, who may be unintentionally omitted from his or her deceased spouse’s Will, an intestate share. The rationale for this provision of the Code is the presumption that the Decedent would have wanted the surviving spouse to receive his or her estate rather than beneficiaries named in a prior Will that predates the marriage.

Continue reading
  108 Hits
108 Hits

Aretha Franklin's Funky Wills

In May, three hand-written wills were found hidden in Aretha Franklin’s Detroit area home. Her family and lawyers previously thought she had died intestate. Two hand-written wills dated 2010 were found in a locked cabinet and third hand-written will dated 2014 was found under a couch in Ms. Franklin’s living room. The wills are difficult to follow. (Click here for example.) All three documents have been offered for probate as valid holographic wills. There is some question whether they are valid under Michigan law.

Continue reading
  177 Hits
177 Hits

“Sound Mind”, “Lucid Intervals” and “Insane Delusions” – What Does It All Mean?

Author and director William “Tim” Burton is quoted as saying, “They say that one person’s insanity is another person’s reality.” Recently, Wade Ash has been involved in several interesting cases involving testators suffering from cognitive impairment when they prepared their Will or Trust. Even persons who are declared mentally incompetent, incapacitated or suffering from various types of mental illness or addiction, may still have sufficient capacity to prepare a Will or Trust. A testator may even lack testamentary capacity, but still have “lucid intervals” enabling them to prepare a Will.

Continue reading
  345 Hits
345 Hits

Will Contests

The proponents of the Will have the initial burden of due execution, venue, and proof of death. The burden is on the contestant to show lack of testamentary capacity, fraud, undue influence, duress, mistake or revocation. However, undue influence cannot be inferred by motive and opportunity alone. There must be some evidence, either direct or circumstantial, to show that undue influence not only existed but also influenced the making of the Will.

I have always considered the two most important witnesses in a Will contest to be the drafting attorney and treating doctor.

Continue reading
  265 Hits
265 Hits

“Just Say No!” Apps for Smartphone Addiction

It’s time to put the smartphone down. Did you know the average American checks their phone every 12 minutes? This means touching your phone roughly 2,617 times a day. For Millennials, who are in the top 10 percent of phone users, it’s 5,427 times a day. We are all so consumed with checking our Facebook or swiping to the left or to the right on Tinder, or constantly checking newsfeeds, that our phones control and flood every waking hour of our days. Recently, Apple and Google have designed a plan to incorporate a “digital wellness” app that can monitor and track the time you spend on your phone. In an experiment, Nick Fitz, a behavioral researcher at Duke University, tracked the usage of smartphones on over 200 people. Most of these people received 60 to 80 notifications on their phones daily. He eliminated the alerts they were receiving on their phones and their stress levels dropped and their concentration improved. However, he also saw an increase in their anxiety levels due to the fear of what they were missing out on. In order to relieve some of that anxiety, Fitz and a team of his researchers formulated a plan to batch and distribute the daily notifications into three groups – morning, day and night. In doing so, people with this app on their phones saw lower stress levels, higher levels of concentration and no increase in anxiety. Although we enjoy using technology and all that it has to offer, the next time you pick up your phone to check your notifications, consider how technology is using you.

  264 Hits
264 Hits

The Future of Estate Planning

“Alexa, who can I contact to prepare my Will?” Does the future of estate planning fall into the hands of a cloud-based registry?

Continue reading
  314 Hits
314 Hits

Electronic Wills–Governor Vetoes Florida’s Electronic Will Statute (Part II)

In 2017, the Florida Legislature approved House Bill 277 promulgating the new Florida Electronic Wills Act (FEWA). The FEWA authorizes the creation of electronic wills and provides that the execution of electronic wills may be witnessed and notarized through the use of remote technology. The Act also specifies that electronic wills for residents, as well as non-residents, may be probated in Florida.

Continue reading
  535 Hits
535 Hits

Electronic Wills-Dispensing With Pen and Paper (Part I)

Will Requirements

Continue reading
  1062 Hits
1062 Hits

Contention Over Lunar Bibles

The state of Texas and Oklahoma resident Carol Mersch, have been in a six-year, estate-related battle in court over 10 teeny microfilm Bibles that traveled to the moon and back in 1971 with NASA’s Apollo 14 Mission. These tiny Bibles contain all 1,245 pages of the King James Bible and are roughly the size of a postage stamp that can only be read through a microscope. Carol Mersch, a Tulsa business woman and author, and the state of Texas are not seeing eye-to-eye on who these precious keepsakes belong to. In 2009, Mersch became friends with a man named John Stout, a NASA chaplain. She claims Stout gave her the Bibles while she was writing a book about trying to land a Bible on the moon. Mersch has a certificate of authenticity signed by Stout, but attorneys for the state of Texas and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services contend that due to the declining physical and mental health of Stout and his wife in their later years, they were considered wards of the state and their son, Jonathan Stout, should inherit the Bibles. Mersch is accused of exerting undue influence over Stout and his wife. She has spent approximately $500,000 defending the litigation regarding ownership of the moon Bibles. For now, until the rightful owner is established, these “First Lunar Bibles” remain stored in a Tulsa County courthouse pending a May 3 hearing.

  752 Hits
752 Hits

Go Green! The Alternative to Traditional Burials

If you are searching for an alternative to the traditional burial that will reduce your “carbon footprint” and lessen the impact you have on the earth, you may want to consider a “green” or “natural” burial. Contrary to what some believe, green burials are becoming more and more popular. A green burial is designed to be environmentally friendly and impact the earth as little as possible. This type of burial reduces chemical and carbon emissions, preserves habitat and conserves natural resources. It also helps to protect the health of those in the industry. The process of a natural burial features the removal of the use of chemical preservatives or disinfectants like embalming fluid, which contains formaldehyde and is highly toxic. Caskets, coffins and urns are made out of biodegradable materials like cotton, wicker, linen, silk or even bamboo, all of which break down into the soil without adding toxins to the earth as they decompose.

Continue reading
  545 Hits
545 Hits

Jury Duty is No Laughing Matter

As part of our civic obligations, we may all, at some point, be called to serve on a jury. Whether we actually serve for a trial or get excused, jury duty is not to be taken lightly. Recently, Michael Chavis walked out of the courthouse during a break just after opening remarks by prosecutors in the case of Richard Wyatt, a man on trial for selling firearms illegally and evading income tax in connection with a gun shop he owned in Wheat Ridge. According to court documents, Chavis left his juror badge on the table after the break, grabbed his belongings and walked out of the courthouse. Chavis assumed he was done and said that he had “mental reservations” or a “panic attack.” He claimed he “wasn’t focused” when asked about his disappearance by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Krieger.

Continue reading
  663 Hits
663 Hits

Mary Tyler Moore: Another Uncertain Celebrity Estate

Beloved actress, producer and activist, Mary Tyler Moore, was laid to rest in a private ceremony in Fairfield, Connecticut on January 29, 2017 at 80 years old, after battling diabetes and suffering from complications with pneumonia. While the status of her estate is unclear at this point, it is very likely that Moore left behind a Will. With a considerable legacy, including an estate that is valued at $60 million, a question arises of who will inherit Moore’s fortune. Her son and only heir, passed away tragically in an accident and her brother and sister are also deceased. This essentially leaves Robert Levine, her longtime husband, as her primary heir. Under Connecticut Probate Rules, Levine is entitled to at least one third of Moore’s probate estate, which in this case, under Connecticut’s spousal share, could be in the spectrum of $20 million. Although Moore left an undetermined amount of money to charity, the question remains: Will her husband inherit a large chunk of the “high-net-worth” legacy that she leaves behind or will charities such as PETA and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, to which she has contributed in the past, receive the majority share?

  1355 Hits
1355 Hits

Electronic Wills

In July 2016, the Wade Ash Newsletter discussed liberalized rules for the creation of wills. At the end of the article, the author predicted that with new technology electronic wills and digital storage of estate planning documents may become a hot topic in many states. To date, Nevada is the only state that has adopted legislation permitting probate of electronic wills. Recently, however, Florida has introduced a bill allowing probate of electronic wills. It is anticipated that at least three other states will introduce similar legislation in 2017.

Continue reading
  1148 Hits
1148 Hits

Suggestions For A Successful Mediation

Prior to mediation, attorneys should meet with their clients and discuss a realistic settlement result. If the client has an unrealistic outcome that cannot be achieved or the client is not prepared to compromise then mediation will not be successful. The Confidential Settlement Memorandum should discuss various settlement scenarios. Coming to mediation with several creative ideas to settle the case will foster more meaningful negotiations by the mediator with the parties.  Below are a few suggestions regarding mediation: 

Continue reading
  772 Hits
772 Hits

Funky Holographic Wills

Since the beginning of recorded history, people have created plans for testamentary disposition of their property. The drafting and execution of wills were codified and formalized in the Statutes of Wills of 1540, the Statutes of Frauds (1677) and the Wills Act of 1837. The formalities demanded by those laws are still observed in the current law of wills. Nonetheless, cognizant of the fact that some wills are made in haste and in the testator’s own handwriting, the law of wills historically has included provisions for validation of handwritten (holographic) wills.

Continue reading
  1608 Hits
1608 Hits

Assisted Suicide Bill May Land on Ballot

A small organization called Liberty at Life’s End is pushing to put assisted suicide in the state’s constitution. Colorado would become the first state to adopt far-reaching legislation affording those who have incurable degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, and even kidney disease or Diabetes to end their own life.

  728 Hits
728 Hits

The Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Are Going To Change as of July 1, 2015

The Rules of Civil Procedure are going to change as of July 1, 2015. The new Rules are modeled on proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The drafters describe the new Rules as in step with the waive of reform with the intent that discovery be administered to make litigation just, speedy and inexpensive. Some of the new Rules are featured in the Civil Access Pilot Program “CAP”, which in the past several years has applied to business actions in certain district courts. Not all of the CAP Rules have been adopted by the new Rules of Civil Procedure. To review the Amended Rules visit this link.

The new Rules of Civil Procedure will apply to all Colorado district court cases and these changes are not restricted to pilot project counties. The changes apply to “cases filed on or after July 1, 2015”. That means cases filed before July 1, 2015 are governed by the old rules. If you have any unfiled cases to which you want the old rules to apply, you must file those actions before 2015.

  1439 Hits
1439 Hits

Similarities of Prohibition and Legalization of Marijuana

Much has been written about the similarities between the currently evolving legalization of marijuana and the Prohibition Era of the 1920s and 1930s. Al Capone has been likened to a Mexican drug lord and the federal government’s ineffective efforts at curbing consumption during each time have been highlighted.

Continue reading
  2063 Hits
2063 Hits