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January Review: Avoid Mistakes & Acquire a Talley?

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January review

It’s the end of the month. That’s when we like to survey the elder law landscape and share interesting or useful items that surfaced over the past few weeks. Here’s our January review:

January’s Planning Tips

Here are eight common estate planning mistakes from AARP. The most common errors we see out of those eight: 1) plans that are incomplete or in error, 2) misunderstood or underutilized plans, and 5) beneficiary conflicts and mistakes (which should be No. 1).

Estate planning mistakes are unfortunate. Estate planning myths are, too. This article dispels a handful of them. Our favorite: “Trusts are only for the ultra-high net worth, so I don’t need one.” Not true.

The new year is a great time (as is anytime) to organize your estate plan. Step One: find your documents. Obviously, if you don’t have any, getting some is Step One.

All About the Money

Here’s a warning for Arizonans: Trust mill scams may be targeting you. Be careful out there.

If you are expecting to inherit a tidy sum, it’s a good idea to plan for that. Here are four ideas.

A multistate coalition of “blue states” is trying to build momentum for wealth taxes in multiple states so the wealthy have fewer low-tax options. Said one Washington state senator: “Let’s make sure if they move, they have nowhere else to go because we’re all taxing them together.” Meanwhile, other states aim to attract rich residents as tax havens, with low (or no) taxes.

If estate taxes haven’t been on your radar, that’s probably OK. The exemption is really high right now, and chances are, your estate is not taxable. Want to make sure? Here’s a primer.

Legal Lessons & Developments

Fleming & Curti practices “elder law.” What is that? It’s a subject of some debate, but this article provides a comprehensive take. Note that “elder law” firms including Fleming & Curti tend to focus on several practice areas within elder law and are unlikely to provide all of those listed.

One aspect of elder law (that Fleming & Curti does not practice) is nursing home abuse. Here’s a guide aimed to help people “understand when you are able to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit, who can be held accountable for the abuse and what types of compensation should be available for losses.” In related news, America’s nursing homes are in crisis. This commentary looks at why, and the conclusion is not a surprise. (It has to do with money.)

We often say a neutral, third-party fiduciary is a wise choice for estate administration. Here’s one that proves the point, and then some. Businessman Aaron Marshbanks died two months ago, found dead in a Lincoln, Nebraska, parking garage. Since then, more than $40 million in claims have been made against his estate. The estate holds dozens of rental properties across the U.S.,  and business interests that look shady. It’s a mess. The court appointed an Omaha attorney on January 10 to start sorting it all out.

January’s Health & Aging News

Your nose might hold clues to your mortality. A  Johns Hopkins study suggests the loss of smell might predict frailty and unhealthy aging. Some day, smell tests could become part of routine screenings to determine risk of unhealthy aging and whether more tests for cognition might be appropriate.  Another possible indicator of unhealthy aging? Grip strength.

On the brighter side, exercise can “turn back the clock” on muscle loss. Says one researcher: “Exercise is the most powerful drug we have.”

Celeb Estates Are Never Dull

Art and fashion from the estate of Andre Leon Talley are being auctioned at Christie’s. Items include the portrait by Kim Cole Moore above. The event started January 27 online, and will be held in real life February 15 in New York. The flamboyant former Vogue magazine director died last year at age 73. Proceeds will support two historically black North Carolina churches.

Priscilla Presley has filed a petition to become trustee of daughter Lisa Marie’s trust. Apparently, there’s a 2016 amendment that removes her, but many details about it are suspicious. Also named is the business manager Lisa Marie was suing. Assuming he resigns, Priscilla, 77, would serve as co-trustee with Lisa Marie’s daughter Riley Keough, 30.

A confidential settlement has been reached in the estate of Chicago Cubs’ Ernie Banks. His spouse and kids were cut out. They sued Regina Rice, Banks’ “longtime friend,” named executor and sole beneficiary. The battle took eight years. Rice said she is still in charge of the estate, including producing an upcoming movie, On Smoother Dirt, set to begin filming soon.

In the not-celebrities-but should be category for January: Sandra Lee Young and Sylvia Lee Young. The identical twin sisters and Star Trek fans left their estates to the Enterprise Fund they created at the Marietta, Ohio, Community Foundation. The fund will benefit six local organizations, including the police and fire departments and library.





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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.