Last Week in Estate Planning (July 17 to July 23, 2011)

July 26, 2011
JohnDonne44 Last Week in Estate Planning (July 17 to July 23, 2011)

John Donne -- Image via Wikipedia

One of my favorite passages in literature comes from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII, by poet John Donne, written in 1624:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

My oversimplified interpretation is that Donne is expressing a Renaissance-era version of the butterfly effect — we must consider that our individual actions cannot be viewed in isolation because we are all dependent on each other.  The loss of any one of us profoundly affects us all.

This week’s “Post of the Week” reminded me of Donne’s passage, a version of which my father proudly hung in his library for many years.

Top Posts and Articles of the Week

Post of the Week

“Don’t Trump Your Will (Unintentionally)”, Kyle E. Krull, Esq., Kansas & Missouri Estate Planning.

  • One can find hundreds of websites, articles, and posts all over the web regarding beneficiary designation forms and their effects on wills.  While the topic is an important consideration in estate planning, the subject matter is somewhat dry.
  • However, Mr. Krull’s take on the subject is much more entertaining.  In fewer than 500 words, he not only referenced poets Robert Burns and my man Donne, but he also quoted and/or linked to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Supreme Court, and an estate planning colleague, all while summarizing the issue quite clearly.
  • IMHO, this is legal blogging at its finest — the author is informative, compelling and personable.  He also generously provides other strong resources to help reinforce understanding in case the reader is interested — this is certainly in keeping with Donne’s lesson in Meditation XVII as quoted above, don’t you think?

Honorable Mentions

“New PA Court System Initiative on Senior Issues”, Neil E. Hendershot, Esq., PA Elder, Estate & Fiduciary Law Blog.

  • Discusses a column released by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, which describes new efforts to “examine the myriad issues, (e.g., technology, information-gathering, fiduciary misconduct, monitoring of guardianships), that have an impact on seniors in our legal system.”

“Legal Ethics and Social Media”, Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq., Vanarelli Law Office Blog.

  • An excellent summary of six recent cases and ethics opinions regarding social media practices by lawyers.  These include rulings on matters such as lawyers providing misleading information on a website and to what extent lawyers can research, “follow”, or “friend” jurors from their current cases.

“Ten Ways to Prevent a Lawsuit Over Your Estate”, Prof. Gerry W. Beyer, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog — citing “10 Ways to Lawsuit-Proof Your Estate”, Ashea Ebeling, The Best Revenge,

  • Ms. Ebeling’s recent post has been cited often throughout the estate planning community this month.  Professor Beyer’s post includes a list of Ms. Ebeling’s suggestions.

Top Stories of the Week

State Developments

In Florida:  “New Florida Durable Power of Attorney Statute [Florida]“, Charles Rubin, Esq., Rubin on Tax.

In Wyoming:  “Wyoming Supreme Court Grants Same Sex Divorce”, Julia C. Lemon, Esq., San Jose Divorce & Estate Planning Blog.

Federal Developments

“Applicable Federal Rates — August 2011″, Charles Rubin, Esq., Rubin on Tax.

“IRS Releases Audit Technique Guide for Attorneys’ Returns”, Brian Spring, Wealth Strategies Journal 2.0.

Entertainment and Human Interest

“Attorneys Not Welcome!”, Prof. Gerry W. Beyer, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog.

“Lawyer:  Rosa Parks’ Estate Was Drained”, David Ashenfelter, Detroit Free Press — cited in Estate of Denial.

“Steve McNair’s Estate Demands Money From His Mother”, Julie Garber, Esq.,


“Review of Dead Hands:  A Social History of Wills, Trusts, and Inheritance Law”, Prof. Gerry W. Beyer, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog — citing “But I Thought the Earth Belongs to the Living”, Prof. Mark L. Ascher, 89 Tex. L. Rev. 1149-1177 (2011).

  • Professor Ascher’s full review of Professor Lawrence M. Friedman’s book is linked within the second link immediately above.  Professor Beyer’s link provides a summary of the critique.
  • One of Professor Ascher’s main criticisms of Friedman’s book is that it does not express enough outrage against dead hand control (i.e. the decedent’s control of property after his death through effective wording in his original estate planning documents).

Please feel free to nominate any top estate planning posts or articles for the week of July 24 to July 30, 2011 in the Comments section below.  Have a great week!

 Last Week in Estate Planning (July 17 to July 23, 2011)
 Last Week in Estate Planning (July 17 to July 23, 2011)


Scott R. Zucker, Esq. is the owner of The Zucker Law Firm PLLC, located just outside the Capital Beltway in Annandale, within five miles of the City of Fairfax, the county seat of beautiful Fairfax County, Virginia. The firm focuses mainly on estate planning services for Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania clientele, and seeks to do so in an affordable and approachable way. People interested in learning more can contact Scott by phone or email.

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