Tag: weisberg

01 Oct

The Prince of Prussia’s Inheritance Claim

Noah Weisberg General Interest, In the News Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

As readers of my blogs likely know by now, I love learning about restitution.  I was thus quite intrigued to read this recent CNN article regarding a claim by the Prince of Prussia.

Georg Friedrich (also known by his legal surname, the Prince of Prussia) (and also apparently 202nd in line to the British throne), has quite the lineage.  His ancestors include Brandenburg electors from 1415, Prussian kings from 1701, German emperors, and importantly, Germany’s last Kaiser, Wilhelm II (also known as Crown Prince Wilhelm).

The Prince has inherited the awe-inspiring Hohenzollern Castle (please take a look at it) located in southern Germany.  But that is not all.  Based on a promise made to his grandfather, the Prince has continued to pursue a dispute against the German authorities to reclaim part of his family’s fortune that was confiscated after the fall of the Nazis.  Apparently, in addition to the promise, the grandfather’s will states that he explicitly expects the Prince to follow his footsteps in pursuing this claim.

Since German law disqualifies those who ‘substantially supported’ the Nazis from any form of restitution or compensation for lost property, the key to the Prince’s argument will be to prove that his ancestors did not help the Nazis.  In addition to other forms of evidence, both the German government and the Prince have commissioned historians to examine Crown Prince Wilhelm’s relationship with the Nazi party.  This includes reviewing historical photos and statements made by the Crown Prince.

What makes the legal issue even more fascinating is that while the law excludes corporations, such as Volkswagen and BMW from making these claims, it is unclear if former royals are excluded as well.  Nevertheless, it appears that some royals have secured restitution – Michael, Prince of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, dropped his 2003 restitution claim for artworks, manuscripts and the inventory of the Wartburg Castle near Eisenach, in return for €15.5 million.

Those interested in restitution, as well as old-world monarchy, castles, and beautiful works of art, should follow this story.

Noah Weisberg

If you find this blog interesting, please consider these other related posts:

29 Sep

Bitcoin Estate Planning Considerations 101

Noah Weisberg Estate Planning Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

I tend to field a fair amount of questions regarding estate planning.  Nowadays, as many of my friends have diversified portfolios that include novel investments such as cryptocurrency, I see more and more estate planning questions regarding such investments.  While my friends who are reading this are still free to ask me directly, I thought I would use today’s blog to save them the trouble (and please note that this blog is not to be considered as legal advice).

Here are some cryptocurrency estate planning considerations as discussed in this Forbes article:

Security – one of the benefits of cryptocurrency is that it is considered highly secure since access is usually by way of private key, password, or seed phrase.  Although this information must be shared with the estate trustee so that they can access the currency post death, it cannot be provided in a way which publicizes the information.  The risk is that anyone who comes across this information can use the currency.  Testators have to be careful to ensure that the information is shared confidentially and securely.

Value – cryptocurrency can fluctuate widely in value, even in the course of one day just like precious metals and other commodities.  As such, the testator has to ensure that the estate trustee is ready to move following death.  Any delays in acting by the estate trustee can put the value in jeopardy, and expose the estate trustee to claims by beneficiaries.

Estate Trustee Powers – it is unclear if cryptocurrency falls afoul of the prudent investor rule.  If the testator knows that the estate trustee will be administering cryptocurrency, there should be specific provisions in the last will ensuring there is authority to do so.

Noah Weisberg

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28 Sep

Are Virtual Hearings the New Normal?

Noah Weisberg Estate Litigation, In the News, Litigation Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

As the readers of our blogs are well aware, the new COVID-19 ‘normal’ has extended into the practice of estates and trusts.  While solicitors have had to adapt to the way wills are prepared, litigators (barristers) have also had to adapt.  Procedures that were ordinarily done in person, such as mediation, examinations, and trials, are now being done virtually.

Amongst my peers, the decision by Justice Myers in Arconti v. Smith has been pointed to as the authority that despite COVID-19, the show must go on.  Please see my firm’s blog for an excellent summary of Justice Myer’s decision.  Those on the other side of the fence, wishing to delay the show, have pointed to Justice Morgan’s case conference endorsement who found that:

I am anxious not to delay litigation any more than needed given the present court suspension and general societal lockdown. At the same time, I would not want to hold a hearing that in its very format raises due process questions for whichever party ends up being unsuccessful. I admire Defendant’s counsels’ enthusiasm, and would be willing to conduct the hearing via videoconference if both sides were willing to do so. However, I do not think it appropriate to compel the moving party to proceed under conditions where Plaintiffs’ counsel perceive that they may not be able to present the case as effectively as they would in person.

However, since this endorsement, Justice Morgan has issued a continued case conference, whereby, following Arconti, the show will go on –  the matter will now proceed virtually.  Morgan J. found that:

I have full confidence that counsel in this case, who, while arguing adversarial positions, appear to have developed a very professional and civil working relationship, will be able to rise to the challenge of conducting a complex hearing by videoconference. They have already indicated to me a willingness to work together to provide the court with a convenient method for filing and accessing the voluminous materials through cloud-based storage.

So, are virtual hearings the new normal?  It sure seems so.  Decisions finding the contrary continue to be revisited and reversed.  The show must go on.

Noah Weisberg

If you find this blog interesting, please consider these other related posts:

02 Jul

Thoughts About Art

Noah Weisberg Executors and Trustees, In the News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

With so much taking place around us now, I forced myself to choose a topic for today’s blog that, although still estates related (this being, after all, an estates blog), allows me to think about something beautiful.  I landed on art.

Full disclosure: I have blogged about art and estates before.  See here and here for some shameless self-promotion.  Without wanting to revisit these topics, I did some searching and was intrigued by this Financial Times article about the Art Loss Register (ALR).

The ALR is the world’s largest private database for lost and stolen art, antiques, and collectibles.  Their services are essentially twofold.  First, the ALR assists to deter the theft of art by promoting the registration of all items of valuable possession on its database and also the expansion of checking searches.  Second, by operating a due diligence service to sellers of art, the ALR operates a recovery service to return works of art to their rightful owners.  In addition, the ALR has expanded to negotiate compensation to the victims of art theft and the legitimising of current ownership.

In addition to art dealers, insurers, and museums, the ALR also assists private individuals including beneficiaries and trustees.  A trustee who is intending to liquidate art may wish to rely on the ALR to prove title and authenticity, thereby potentially increasing value and mitigating risk of fraud.

Noah Weisberg

If you find this topic to be interesting, please consider these other related blogs:

30 Jun

Changes to Consent and Capacity Board Coverage

Noah Weisberg Capacity, In the News Tags: , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Legal Aid Ontario has published a notice setting out changes to coverage for Consent and Capacity Board appeals.

Effective June 23, 2020, Legal Aid Ontario is making the following changes to its certificate coverage:

    1. an additional 10 hours will be offered to the current 25 hours allocated on the CCB appeal tariff. This increases total coverage to 35 hours
  1. a new 10-hour certificate for motions for emergency/urgent CCB treatment orders held in the Superior Court is being introduced

The full notice can be found here.

If you have applied for CCB appeal coverage from March 13 onward, Legal Aid Ontario will be contacting you regarding the notice.  If you have not heard from Legal Aid Ontario, you should contact them directly.

Any attempt to increase access to justice, is always welcome.

Noah Weisberg

If you find this blog interesting,  please  consider these other related blogs:

29 Jun

Don’t Worry Be Happy

Noah Weisberg Capacity, Health / Medical Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

Yes, you’re reading this blog on a Monday.  As week days go, Monday isn’t nearly as fun as a Thursday, or Friday.  But that doesn’t mean you should be unhappy.  A recent study purports that repetitive negative thinking is linked to cognitive decline.

The authors of the study propose that repetitive negative thinking may be a new risk factor for dementia.  Based on various tests, the study found that when compared to non-pessimists, people who think negatively have a greater buildup of certain proteins in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease (the most common type of dementia), a worse memory, and greater cognitive decline.

Based on this correlation, it is believed important to think happy thoughts.  Whether you are a glass half empty or half full kind of person, the brain can be trained to be more optimistic.  This can be done in a number of ways, including:

  • meditating – one study found that only 30 minutes a day over a two week period produced a measurable change in the brain
  • practicing gratefulness – taking a few minutes each day to write down what you are thankful for
  • reframing negative thoughts –changing your perspective on a situation to give more of a positive or beneficial meaning to you

As Bobby McFerrin sings, ‘In every life we have some trouble / But when you worry you make it double / Don’t worry, be happy / Don’t worry, be happy now’.

Happy Monday,

Noah Weisberg

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30 Mar

The Trustee’s Duty to Invest During COVID-19

Noah Weisberg Executors and Trustees Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

There is so much in flux right now due to COVID-19.  In the area of estates and trusts though, the obligations that an estate trustee owes to beneficiaries remains stable.  During this time, estate trustees need to consider how best to administer an estate, and what they should be doing to limit future claims against them.  The purpose of today’s blog is to consider the estate trustee’s duty to invest.

According to section 27(1) of the Trustee Act, “In investing trust property, a trustee must exercise the care, skill, diligence and judgment that a prudent investor would exercise in making investments”.  This is often referred to as the prudent investor rule.  Section 27(5) sets out certain criteria the trustee is required to consider in investing trust property, including, amongst other things, the general economic conditions and the possibility of inflation or deflation.

Given the current market fluctuations, estate trustees need to give invested trust property considered attention.  While they cannot be expected to produce resounding returns for the beneficiaries, they can take steps to make sure their investments are prudent in the circumstances and avoid future claims from beneficiaries.  These could include claims that the estate trustee failed to properly invest trust assets or that they failed to exercise their discretion.

The estate trustee should consider doing at least four things.  First, they should review the terms of the will as to whether there are any specific investment requirements.  Second, they should contact their investment advisor to obtain professional advice and share any relevant terms of the will.  Third, the estate trustee should ask the investment advisor to put their advice/comments in writing and the estate trustee should hold on to this.  Fourth, if the trustee is afforded some sort of discretion (for instance, considering the interests of capital versus income beneficiaries), the trustee should prepare a memorandum to themselves.  The memorandum should set out the reasons why they reached the investment decision that they did and the factors they considered, which should include the section 27(5) criteria.

Stay safe and wash your hands,

Noah Weisberg

Please click on this link to see our COVID-19 related resources,  as well as these related blogs:

02 Jan

Feeling Good into 2020

Noah Weisberg Estate Planning, General Interest, In the News, Uncategorized, Wills Tags: , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

It is the start of a new year and a new decade.  Many of us recently enjoyed some holidays and had much to eat and drink.  Many of us are also feeling the lingering effects of this merriment.  I figured that an uplifting, feel good read would be a nice way to start 2020.  I was thus delighted to learn about Eva Gordon, and her estate.

Ms. Gordon passed away at the age of 105.  She grew up on an orchard in Oregon, never graduated from college, and worked as a trading assistant at an investment firm in Seattle.  In 1964, she married her husband, who was a stockbroker.  They did not have any children together.  Neither Ms. Gordon or her husband came from money, and they lived a modest life.  Ms. Gordon’s godson, who was the Estate Trustee, joked that if Ms. Gordon and her husband went out for lunch or dinner, then they would make sure to bring their Applebee’s coupon.

From the salary that Ms. Gordon received from her employer, she purchased partial shares in numerous stocks, including oil and utility companies, and was an early investor in Nordstrom, Microsoft, and Starbucks.  Unlike many at that time, Ms. Gordon held onto these valuable stocks.  As a result of this shrewd investing, Ms. Gordon’s wealth increased considerably over the latter years of her life.

Instead of wasting away her money, in her Will, Ms. Gordon decided to bequeath $10 million to various community colleges, with about 17 colleges each receiving cheques for $550,000.  Interestingly, no stipulations were put into place as to how the money was to be spent by the colleges.  The colleges could do with the money as they wished.  For many of them, it was one of the largest donations they had ever received.

For an interesting perspective on the impact of donations to modest, as opposed to elite, institutions, you should listen to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast (episode 6).

Noah Weisberg

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31 Dec

Champagne Poppin’ & Will Plannin’

Noah Weisberg Estate Planning, New Years Resolutions Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

It is the end of 2019.  I therefore of course feel the need to use this blog to urge you to resolve to either make a will if you do not already have one, or, if you already have one, to review your current estate plan to see if it requires updating.

Why the urgency you might ask?  The answer lies in the most festive of NYE tipples – champagne!

Apparently, approximately 24 people die annually from being hit by champagne corks.  In fact, it has been alleged that more people die as a result of being hit by a champagne cork, than from poisonous spiders.  This article highlights the death of a Hong Kong billionaire by champagne while celebrating his 50th birthday.  As he opened a celebratory bottle of champagne, the cork hit the businessman in the temple causing a fatal brain hemorrhage.  His death was confirmed on the way to the hospital.

Champagne corks as a cause of death have received much doubt and there have been steps to debunk as a ‘myth’.  For instance, according to this article, the average rate at which a champagne cork exits a bottle is about 24.8 miles per hour.  In extreme circumstances, if there was up to 3 bars of pressure, a cork could reach speeds of 60 miles per hour.  Regardless, these speeds are not enough to cause a cork to be deadly.

 

So, while death by a champagne cork may not be a valid reason to urge you to consider your estate plan, there are many other good reasons as discussed in these related Hull & Hull blogs:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Noah Weisberg

30 Dec

The First Last Will

Noah Weisberg General Interest, Wills Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

With the new year approaching, it is customary to turn one’s attention to the year ahead in the making of resolutions.  In today’s blog though, instead of looking forward, I thought that I would look back – waaaaaayyyyy back – to the oldest Last Will and Testament.

The oldest last will and testament was discovered in 1890 by William Petrie, an English Egyptologist.  While exploring the pyramids in Kahun, Egypt, Petrie came across a parchment/papyrus from 1797 BC that was determined to be the last will of Ankr-ren.  The will was written in hieroglyphics.

Ankr-ren’s will left all of his property to his brother, Uah (who was stated to be a priest).

Uah’s last will was also discovered.  Uah’s will gifts the property he receives from Ankr-ren to his wife, Teta, forbids his wife from demolishing any house received by Ankr-ren, and names a guardian for his child.  The last will also had two witnesses.

Remarkably, or perhaps not, the terms of these ancient wills bear so many resemblances to modern day wills requirements found in Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act.  For instance, they include the ability to freely gift property, to appoint a custodian/guardian for a minor child, and include two witnesses.

Noah Weisberg

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