Texas History – Do You Know Who Saved the Alamo From Being Torn Down?

Jul 22, 2014  /  By: Stephen A. Mendel, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

In 1903 Clara Driscoll bought the Alamo to keep it from being torn down and she went on to fund extensive restorations. This earned her the title, “Savior of the Alamo.”

The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Famous Estates – Legacy Champ or Chump?

Jul 18, 2014  /  By: Stephen A. Mendel, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning

Philip K. Wrigley (1894-1977) – Businessman

Philip Wrigley, sometimes called P.K., was an American chewing gum manufacturer and executive in Major League Baseball, inheriting both those roles as the quiet son of his much more flamboyant father, William Wrigley, Jr. While the gum industry prospered, the Cubs grew less competitive over the decades. After an appearance in the 1945 World Series, they only had seven winning seasons in the next 32 years, including sixteen straight losing seasons from 1947 to 1962. In 1961 he abolished the traditional field management/coaching structure and instead hired a “College of Coaches.” This anticipated the specialization of coaches that is taken for granted nowadays. During World War II, Wrigley founded the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League as a promotional sideline to maintain interest in baseball as the military draft was depleting major-league rosters of first-line players. The AAGPBL was immortalized in the 1992 film, A League of Their Own.

Philip and his wife Helen died in 1977 within three months of each other. After years of negotiating with the IRS and several states’ taxing authorities, the Wrigley family settled on valuation issues and the amount of estate taxes owed, over $40 million. After selling off the family portfolio of stocks, in the end, the family had to sell the Chicago Cubs. All the proceeds from that sale went to the government to pay off estate taxes. Philip and Helen did not have life insurance to provide the liquidity needed to pay the taxes on their illiquid estate.

Philip Wrigley was a famous businessman, but even successful businessmen can fail to plan properly. If you want to minimize the consequences of failing to properly plan your estate, then contact The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. for a free initial consultation on estate planning, trust planning, and/or probate issues.

The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Do You Need a Social Media Will?

Jul 16, 2014  /  By: Stephen A. Mendel, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning

In estate planning many different ideas come and go as laws and ideas change. The latest fads revolve around what to do with your social media accounts after you pass away. The idea is to give someone the ability to access your accounts and set out how you want them handled. While this is generally a good idea, it needs to be executed properly.

The big thing now is called a Social Media Will. It’s a separate document for your social media accounts. Do you really need it though? You should have a comprehensive estate plan that covers everything. You can give directions for your social media accounts in other documents, like Wills and Trusts. If you already have those, it’s easier to include your social media directives in them because it’s one less document for your heirs to find and present in Probate court.

There will be other fads in estate planning. Just because something is the newest thing does not make it the greatest thing. Older estate planning tools are often just as effective, if not more so, in protecting the interests of your estate and fulfilling your goals as newer ones. Give directions on how you want your social media accounts handled, but talk to an estate planning attorney about the best way for you to do so.

The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Texas History – What was the First “Rolling Stone” magazine?

Jul 15, 2014  /  By: Stephen A. Mendel, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

The first Rolling Stone magazine was published in Austin, Texas, between 1894 and 1895. It contained humorous articles, political notes, cartoons, and jokes and was published by Sydney Porter, who came to Texas from North Carolina. Porter went on to bigger fame writing under the pseudonym of O. Henry, but was later charged with embezzlement from a bank where he worked as a teller. He fled to Central America but returned in 1897 to visit his sick wife and was arrested in March 1898. He was found guilty and sentenced to the federal penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio. It was there that Porter began writing short stories, many of which had Texas settings.

The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Famous Estates – Legacy Champ or Chump?

Jul 11, 2014  /  By: Stephen A. Mendel, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning

Samuel L. Clemens (1835-1910) – Writer

Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “the Great American Novel.” He grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, where he apprenticed with a printer working as a typesetter and contributed articles to his brother Orion’s newspaper. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. In 1865, his humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was published and with it came international attention. Twain was born shortly after a visit by Halley’s Comet, and he predicted he would “go out with it,” too. He died the day following the comet’s closest approach to earth.

Mark Twain died with a Last Will and Testament and a Trust whereby he bequeathed to his daughters, Clara and Jean, their heirs, executors, and/or administrators five percent (5%) of any and all moneys which may be on deposit to his credit or trust company or in any banking institution. Mark Twain bequeathed all the residue and remainder of his property and estate in a trust to be divided into two parts to be invested and reinvested. From the trust, each daughter receives distribution on the fifteenth days of January, April, July, and October of each year for the term of their natural lives.

We celebrate Mark Twain not only for his great literary work but as a Legacy Champ for establishing a Last Will and Testament as well as a Trust in his estate planning. If you want to be a Legacy Champ in your own special way, then contact The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. for a free initial consultation on estate planning, trust planning, and/or probate issues.

The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Thought for the Day:

Jul 10, 2014  /  By: Stephen A. Mendel, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

Christopher Columbus

 

The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Spouses Sometimes Need Separate Attorneys

Jul 09, 2014  /  By: Stephen A. Mendel, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning

One difficult aspect of estate planning is what to do when you and your spouse disagree about what should be done with the estate. One spouse might want Joint Wills, while the other spouse might want to explore different options. This makes using the same lawyer for both spouses difficult. In these cases, it might be better if each spouse employs their own attorneys.

I know, you don’t want to pay for one attorney, let alone two. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree, then a single attorney cannot represent both of your interests and give you both the best possible advice. Two attorneys can help you and your spouse reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Each spouse will have an attorney who they can be confident is representing their own interests in negotiating between them to come up with a plan they can both accept.

Not all couples need two attorneys to make an estate plan. In fact, most don’t. However, in some cases it might be the best option to help the couple reach an agreement. Let the attorneys argue so that you and your spouse can focus on the reasons that you are together instead of the things that you normally argue about.

The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Texas History – Who is Known as the Yellow Rose of Texas?

Jul 08, 2014  /  By: Stephen A. Mendel, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

The song “The Yellow Rose of Texas” is about Emily D. West (also known as Emily Morgan). Emily was an indentured servant on the Morgan plantation. As a result of her mixed ancestry, she had a light skin color, which is why the song makes reference to her as yellow. In 1836, Emily was seized by Mexican forces during the looting of Galveston. According to the legend, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, President of Mexico and commander of the Mexican army, took a liking to Emily, and she became one of his sexual partners. The legend credits her seduction of Santa Anna with lowering the guard of the Mexican army and facilitating the Texans’ victory in the 1839 Battle of San Jacinto, near present-day Houston. Santa Anna’s opponent was General Sam Houston, who literally won the battle in minutes, and with almost no casualties.

The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Famous Estates – Legacy Champ or Chump?

Jul 04, 2014  /  By: Stephen A. Mendel, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning

Dennis Hopper (1936-2010) – Actor & Director

Dennis Hopper was an actor, film maker, and artist. As a young man , Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors Studio. He made his first television appearance in 1954 and appeared in two films featuring James Dean. During the next ten years, Hopper appeared frequently on television in guest roles, and by the end of the 1960s had played supporting roles in several films. He directed and starred in Easy Rider (1969), winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as co-writer. He was nominated again for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in the film Hoosiers.

In January 2010, Hopper filed for divorce from his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy. He and Victoria were at bitter odds when the actor passed away after battling cancer. A report states that Hopper drafted an amendment to his estate plan in March 2010, in which he attempted to diminish his seven year old daughter Galen’s share from 40% to 25%. However, under California law, the amendment may not be valid because changes to an estate plan are severely restricted once divorce papers have been filed. Given that Hopper also had two other daughters and a son, why Galen would have been a 40% beneficiary is a puzzle. Nevertheless, Victoria believes she is entitled to 25% and the trustees want to give her nothing. The battle over Dennis Hopper’s estate continues in court.

Dennis Hopper was a talented actor and director, but even successful actors can fail to plan properly. If you want to minimize the consequences of failing to properly plan your estate, then contact The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. for a free initial consultation on estate planning, trust planning, and/or probate issues.

The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Thought for the Day:

Jul 03, 2014  /  By: Stephen A. Mendel, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Uncategorized

I am not a product of my circumstances.  I am a product of my decisions.

Stephen Covey

The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.