Monthly Archives: March 2015

Robin Williams Trust Dispute Highlights Importance of Precise Drafting

It’s unlikely that the late comedian Robin Williams would be laughing at the current dispute involving his family members. A dispute over the interpretation of certain language in his trust – pitting his widow Susan against his three children – is currently in litigation in Superior Court in Marin County, California. CNN.com Reports: Specifically, there’s one paragraph about certain items of Williams’ property that his beneficiaries have made into a tricky semantics debate. The paragraph assigns to Williams’ children all of his “clothing, jewelry, personal photos taken prior to his marriage to (Susan) … memorabilia and awards in the entertainment …

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New Ruling Has Implications for Expert Witnesses in Estate Litigation Matters

Editor’s Note: this blog post has since been superseded by new events. To see a discussion of the new events, please click here.   The other month, the Virginia Supreme Court issued an opinion that could have potentially significant implications for the use of expert witnesses in estate litigation matters. The ruling appears to bring Virginia law closer to the federal Daubert standard for the admissibility of expert witness testimony. First some background: In 1993, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993) that the then-current test for the admissibility of expert …

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Recognizing Signs of Undue Influence

Undue influence over elderly persons, disabled persons, and others is a large problem, which will only get worse as American society increasingly ages and the baby boomer generation prepares to transition large sums of wealth via their estate plans. It’s important for every family member, friend, neighbor, business colleague, etc., to be aware of the signs of undue influence so that they can protect their family members, friends, and associates. The law in Virginia (like the law in most states) defines undue influence as influence “sufficient to destroy [the] free agency” of a person. Jarvis v. Tonkin, 238 Va. 115, …

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Posted in Disinheriting Family Members, Elder Abuse, Elder Law Disputes, Undue Influence \ Comments Off on Recognizing Signs of Undue Influence