Oh, So You Think You Can Mess With My Trust Just Because I’m Dead?


So back in 1996, this couple in Arkansas set up a Trust. The beneficiaries were his 3 kids and her 3 nieces. Simple enough. Well, after Robert died, guess what Robena did? Kids? What kids? She amended the trust to exclude her deceased husband’s 3 kids, effectively disinheriting them. Surely they did not intend for something like this to be done when they set this thing up … or did they? Here’s the operative provision of the Trust document:

14. REVOCABILITY: The Donors, Robert F. Blann and Robena P. Blann, may, by signed instruments delivered to the Trustee during the Donors’ life: . . . (3) change the beneficiaries, their respective shares and the plan of distribution. . . .

It seems pretty clear to The Juice, as it did to the kids too, who went to court to have this amendment tossed. So what did the court say?

The judge said the language was ambiguous [wrong!] but ended up tossing the amendment on the grounds that, when they set the Trust up, Robert and Robena intended for changes in beneficiaries to be made by both parties.

Of course that’s what they intended! That’s what it says! “Donors’ life” means BOTH of them. So when the nieces appealed (like you didn’t see that coming), what do you think the Arkansas Court of Appeals said? Not surprisingly, they agreed with The Juice completely, finding that the Trust is not ambiguous at all, and telling the nieces to pound sand. Too bad they’ll still share in the Trust proceeds, albeit in smaller shares.

You can read the full opinion (Hartsfield, et al. v. Blann, et al.) here.


Raising the sex-assault conviction rate

That’s a widely shared objective right now, but at what price? In New Zealand, one of the two main political parties, Labour, is now contemplating rolling back the presumption of innocence, while the other, incumbent National, is contemplating allowing the criminal process to infer guilt from silence. [New Zealand Herald, more]

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Raising the sex-assault conviction rate is a post from Overlawyered – Chronicling the high cost of our legal system


The Apprentice Route – Practicing Law, Without Law School (but you still have to pass the state bar)

A viable (aka cost-efficient, makes common sense) alternative model for preparing to practice law is the apprenticeship route.

Legally classified as “law readers,” those choosing this path have to find an attorney to supervise their study, then pass the state bar. Law school is not required. It is permitted, reports Sean Patrick Farrell in The New York Times, in Virginia, Vermont, Washington and California.Here is that detailed article covering this option.

Obviously, there are two advantages of this approach. The cost of law school is bypassed. Also, there is no waste of time on abstractions. Essentially, every bit of effort involved is associated with practicing law. As everyone knows, Abraham Lincoln learned the law through being an apprentice.

The drawbacks, points out Farrell, are many. This kind of lawyer navigates the legal sector without a JD. Prospects could balk at not seeing that credential on the wall. Prestigious positions could be closed to them.

Also, good luck trying to find an attorney who will agree to be the grand master of supervision.

In addition, law readers have a low pass rate on the bar exam. In 2013, only 28% passed versus 73% of those who graduated from A.B.A.-accredited law schools.

Another negative is that VA will not allow paying apprentices. That means law readers in that state will either have to get a part-time job or get in debut.

Education comes in many forms. Those with extreme drive might choose this one. The less driven might go the conventional path of law school.


Displaced JDs – Panhandling Has Become Legitimate Career Path

Panhandling is like many other lines of legitimate work. Success in it demands understanding its dynamics and how to do fast course correction when there’s trouble, e.g. the usual begging spot is declared off-limits by concerned citizens or official law enforcement. are some tips by eHow.

Given that lawyers are analytical, by nature and education, the odds are with them that they could make a go of this growing career path. Estimates of earnings vary greatly. It is likely beggers doing the best will be circumspect about what they bring home.

Articles on revenues from regular begging indicate that for those who have a good handle on this way of making a living can generate enough income for a middle class lifestyle. Here is one piece on earnings from Yahoo.

What I do know is that a neighbor who panhandles six days a week can pay his rent in a middle-class apartment complex here in Tucson, Arizona. Regularly he carries into his one-bedroom sacks of food from the grocery store, not a soup kitchen. He never has hustled any residents for a few bucks to get by until …

His prop is his dog. Every panhandler needs a prop. Ones for lawyers could include free consultations about over-education, law books placed strategically around the collection basket and/or a chart of student loan debts versus income from practicing law. Should lawyers offer entertainment? That depends on zoing laws and other regulations.

From anecdotal evidence, beggers who are clean and well dressed earn more per day. That could be because they are approachable. Those looking like Charles Manson scare us. We hurry by.

It could be a plus to be willing to lisen and engage in conversation. Too many people are lonely. They welcome and will reward the opportunity to connect in person with another human being.

How to dry run this approach to economic survival? Exit familiar locations. Research local ordinances about panhandling. Case out locations for competition. Experiment with a variety of approaches, ranging from attire to props to level of gregariousness. It has been claimed that a smart panhandler, like a in-touch waiter, can bring home $500 a night. Perhaps more.


States Hit Snags Giving Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants

DENVER—A law granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants is set to take effect Friday in Colorado, but the state is facing some challenges as it seeks to handle a wave of people interested in applying for the documents.

Other states with large immigrant populations, such as California and Illinois, are also dealing with complications and high demands as they move to implement similar laws.    

Leonard Belzer Jumps To Death – Is There a "Suicide Gene"

Seemingly despondent over the 2012 death of his wife Emily Squires and declining health, Leonard Belzer jumped to his death today from the roof of his Upper West Side apartment building. He was 73. Essentially that’s young old age.

His father had committed suicide in 1968. Both he and his brother actor Richard Belzer have been open about their horrific childhood. Here is the coverage in the New York Post.

Lots of aging men lose stimulating spouses, run into bad health and are haunted by Dickensian childhoods. Yet, very few of them commit suicide.

Also, more and more lawyers are losing their good jobs. Yet very few of them commit suicide.

As we observe those who chooses to take their own life and who decides to forge on, it seems obvious that there might be a “suicide gene.”

That could trigger the active form of suicide such as a leap off a building, gun shot to the head, hanging, jumping in front of a train or drugs.

In addition, there’s the passive kind. The person stops taking blood pressure medication, drives drunk, ignore signs of cancer, instigates altercations, participates in sex with shady folks and enjoys recreational drugs way too much and too often.

Is there any way to outsmart the suicide gene? Lawyers who assume they have that genetic legacy should leverage their best research on this.


Non-Sequiturs: 07.30.14

* Court needed a Chinese language interpreter. Rather than find a professional legal interpreter, the judge just told the lawyer to head down to the local Chinese restaurant and grab somebody. [Legal Cheek] * News from former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s trial. As one tipster summed up the story: “Hon, I think I dropped my keys under that bus. Would you take a look?” [Slate] * Everyone concedes Ted Cruz is smart. Why exactly? [Salon] * A follow-up from a previous story: Connolly, Geaney, Ablitt & Willard shuts down after the foreclosure market that made them turned on them. [Mass Lawyers Weekly (sub. req.)] * Interesting look at the volume of patent cases throughout history. Check out the troll phenomenon with charts! [Patently-O] * More folks wasting time complaining about blog posts. [South Florida Lawyers] * Clint Eastwood talks with Chief Judge Kozinski and Judge Fisher at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference. These days it’s exciting whenever Clint isn’t talking to an empty chair. Video embedded below… [YouTube]