10.22.2020

Chadwick Boseman’s Estate: The Effect of Intestate Succession for the Beloved MARVEL Superhero

 


This guest post is from Sarahi Saucedo, Regent Law 3L and current Wills, Trusts & Estates student: 


Before sharing some legal technicalities, I offer my sincere condolences to those that lost a husband, son, and dear friend with Chadwick Boseman's passing. 


As most know by now, actor and beloved Marvel superhero Chadwick Boseman fought his ultimate battle behind the scenes against colon cancer for many years before passing away on August 28, 2020.


As a fan of his work as Jackie Robinson and Black Panther, I have an immense appreciation for his dedication to bring important roles to lifeI think it's safe to say that his success and impact on the world is undeniable. At the time of his death, Boseman, like many Americans today, did not have a will or any trusts dictating his wishes for his estate's disposition with an estimated value of $938,500. The question then arises: what will happen to Boseman's estate? 




Well, Boseman died intestate – which is legalese for someone dying without a will. This means that the state of the decedent's domicile will appoint an administrator and dictate his estate's disposition in accordance with its laws. In the case of Boseman's estate, California's intestate statute will control how his estate is handled because he lived in Los Angeles. Although Boseman did not have a will, if he had other will substitutes, such as life insurance, such assets would not be subject to probate, but will pass directly to the beneficiary named on the policy. Boseman's widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, has recently started the probate process by filing a petition requesting the court to name her administrator of the estate with limited authority. Now that the probate process has begun: who will get what? 


In essence, California's intestate statute provides that the decedent's intestate estate will pass first to the spouse, then to issue (e.g., children and grandchildren), and then to parents. The amount of the widow's intestate share depends on two things: the characterization of the property (as probate or non-probate) and any surviving family (e.g., children, parents, siblings, and nieces/nephews). If Boseman's parents had not survived Boseman, Taylor Simone Ledward would be awarded the entire probate estate. However, both of Boseman's parents are still alive, and as such, Taylor Simone Ledward could get one-half of any property irrespective of the properties' characterization. 


Regardless, the surviving spouse gets first dibs when it comes to taking from the decedent's estate. After the spouse takes, the rest of the estate will pass according to the intestate statute to any other surviving family members. 


Although it is interesting to view the intestate succession process, the decedent loses control over their estates' distribution by not leaving a will. Even though we may never know Boseman's wishes, I sincerely hope that this intestate succession is what he wanted for his estate. 

 

If you don't want the state to make decisions for you, please take the time to create an estate plan and speak to a licensed professional. That helps your family toward harmony and restoration in amazing ways. Despite his serious illness, I doubt anyone expected Chadwick to die at 43. That said, I genuinely recommend that you contemplate your wishes for disposition, regardless of your age. Thinking about your death can be scary, but it will be better to have a plan in place should anything unexpected occur. 



10.19.2020

Children are Protected from Trafficking by Border Patrol Agents


Children trapped in illegal immigration schemes can quickly and easily fall victim to trafficking smugglers, even if they are accompanied by their parents as they cross the U.S. border.  That’s exactly what happened on 1-35 in Laredo, TX this past weekend.  But for the swift response of U.S. Border Patrol Agents a child might have been lost forever.

A Honduran family hired smugglers to help them enter the country.  When they crossed into Texas the smugglers separated the parents from their child, telling them they had to place their nine-year old son in a different van. When the parents and others in their vehicle were apprehended by Border Patrol Agents they told their story of being separated from their son.  The Agents immediately went into action, checking for the boy in every vehicle they pulled over. They found him in a van driven by a woman claiming that he was her child. The boy was reunited with his family after her claim was refuted by the parents’ documentary proof of their parentage. The driver, a U.S. citizen, was arrested and turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations unit. 

“If not for the vigilance of the agents who only had a physical description to go on, this child would have been taken by smugglers further into our country without his family, and left helplessly under the control of strangers,” Chief Patrol Agent Matthew Hudak warned. “Putting your life, and the life of your family, in the hands of vicious and callous criminal organizations is a potentially fatal mistake.”

Family restoration is a central principle of legal immigration, but when families resort to illegal immigration they can be seriously endangering their children.

Children are protected from trafficking schemes by faithful U.S. Border Patrol Agents who are, as required by law, always looking out for the best interests of all children.

10.16.2020

China Bans Faith for All Children

 

"Article 14 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that 'State parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.' China's constitution in article 36 also protects the right of children to seek religious belief. And yet the reality...in China is far different..." - Emilie Kao, The Heritage Foundation


On October 5, 2020, in Washington, D.C., human rights and religious freedom NGO Jubilee Campaign (founder and Executive Director Regent Law alumni Ann Buwalda) hosted their side event to the United Nations Human Rights Council 45th Session, titled China Bans Faith for All Children. This event, which featured both expert speakers as well as survivors of persecution in China, informed international activists about China’s violations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child with regards to the rights to religious freedom. Among special guests were Emilie Kao of The Heritage Foundation, Bob Fu of ChinaAid, Peter Irwin of Uyghur Human Rights Project, Elfidar Iltebir of Uyghur American Association, Sean Lin of Falun Dafa D.C., Kai Müller of International Campaign for Tibet, and two victims of persecution in China.

 

Article 14 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) stipulates that “States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” and that “States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.” Despite these protections, however, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has consistently violated children’s rights to freedom of religion or belief, and China’s Christian, Tibetan Buddhist, Uyghur, and Falun Gong children continue to face persecution and harassment in virtually all aspects of their lives.

 

In addition to violating Article 14, the Chinese Communist Party also violates Article 13 on the right to freedom of expression as well as Article 30 on the rights of cultural, ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities to “enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practice his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.”  Indeed, China has banned faith for all children.

 

 

 

To learn more about the Convention on the Rights of the Child, why the United States of America has not become a signatory, and how it is not helping children download for free and read: 

A Brief Assessment of the 25-Year Effect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 23 Cardozo J. Int’l. & Compar. L. 323 (2015).

Suffer the Children: How the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Has Not Supported Children, 22 N.Y. Int’l. L. Rev

10.13.2020

Future Lawyers and the Importance of Prudence


This guest post is from Christopher Mateer, Regent Law 3L, and current student in Wills, Trusts, & Estates, who is completing his Juris Doctor from Washington, D.C. :


The central theme underlying our Wills, Trusts & Estates course is that individuals have the freedom of disposition: the right to dispose of his or her property as he or she sees fit. While this freedom is embedded in our law and culture, it does not provide for
how an individual should dispose of his or her property.

The “how” of estate planning is really subject to the virtue of prudence, which is a lost virtue according to Forsythe and Kohm, in their piece Restoring the Lost Virtue of Prudential Justice to the Life Debate,22 Regent U. L. Rev. 191 (2009-2010).  Prudence should not simply relate to estate planning, but it should relate to all aspects of a lawyer’s practice.  Prudence is practical wisdom, or, put more succinctly, wisdom in practice.


A clear a lack of prudence was obvious in the debacle surrounding the Johnson & Johnson fortune, which was highlighted in The Latest Twist on the Rich Girl Dilemma: My Partner Wants My Money and My ChildTexas Tech. Est. Plan. & Comm. Prop. L. Rev. 1 (2011).


Was it prudent that the family completely cut off Casey Johnson instead of building her up within the family? Probably not; however, it was also imprudent that Casey did not have a proper estate plan that clearly named what her intentions were for her child, as well as her assets.


Clearly, there was a lack of prudence when a supposed pro-life activist killed the abortionist George Tiller. If effectuating real change was the intention of that individual, he would have known how damaging the murder of Tiller would be for the pro-life movement. Additionally, what he did was no better than what Tiller did to the babies that he murdered.


A third article we read, Women and Assisted Suicide: Exposing the Gender Vulnerability to Acquiescent Death, 4 Cardozo Women’s L. J.241 (1997), highlighted the prudence needed in considering how to help people who think they have no escape from their problems except through death, asking someone else to assist them in that death. Attorneys must be prudent in all their actions when they come into contact with someone who is seeking help, whether that is physical, emotional, financial, or psychological help.


The call to prudence, which undergirds all three of the articles we read this week, ought to inspire attorneys to go beyond the law. Attorneys should focus on advising people in what they should do; not just what they can do. This does not mean, however, that attorneys should go against their client’s wishes. If there is a huge conflict, they should go their separate ways: another area where prudence is important.


Learning as future lawyers the importance of prudence in our practice of law encourages us to place the highest priority on the value of service to clients who need our help.

10.08.2020

What Families Need to Know about the Coming Soft Totalitarianism


This guest post is by Joseph A. Kohm, Jr., the Vice President for Development of the C.S. Lewis Institute, a global Christian discipleship ministry, headquartered in Washington, D.C. with the family discipleship ministry "Keeping the Faith."

 


At some point in the not too terribly distant future, every faithful Christian will have wished they had read Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, by Rod Dreher.  The safer bet is to just go ahead and read it now.  A few years ago, Dreher, an author, blogger, and social commentator, began being contacted by individuals who had lived through Communism in the Soviet Union before the fall of the Berlin Wall to tell him they were seeing similar trends between the rise of Communist totalitarianism in Soviet Russia and the rise of a different type of totalitarianism in America.  A first he was skeptical, but when the Christian owners of a small-town pizzeria in Indiana in 2015 told a local reporter they would not cater a same-sex marriage if asked, the online backlash against them, including death threats and a warning that their business would be burned down, caused him to reconsider. 


Dreher distinguishes the totalitarianism in the Soviet Union, which had the force of the state behind it, from the soft totalitarianism in America where compliance is forced by elites with powerful social media platforms, and private corporations, who have access to the technology that controls our lives. 


But what is it that this new totalitarianism is enforcing?  It is not a different politics.  Rather, Dreher assets it is a different religion.  “Far from being moral relativists,” the new totalitarians “are rigorists with a deep and abiding concern for purity and they do not hesitate to enforce their sacrosanct beliefs.” This new religion has its own canon – gender and identity studies, its own telos – John Lennon’s Imagine, its own soteriology – Allyship, and its own sacraments – abortion. Transcendence is found in the creed that the arc of the universe bends towards justice, providing the comforting belief that ideological progress has some sort of moral force.  Dreher writes, “Intersectionality is social justice ecumenism.” Those that dare stand for or preach the heresies of orthodox Christianity will have to be prepared perhaps to lose their jobs, lose access to professional designations, or lose access to educational opportunities, all of which are similar to what we see happening with China’s social credit system for their citizens.


Dreher does not just give us a diagnosis, but he provides the prescription too.  Consistent with the purposes of this blog, Dreher strongly recommends that parents value nothing more than the truth, teaching “your children to identify lies and refuse them.”  Do not let the media and educational institutions propagandize your children.  Instead, preserve the real meaning of words with small fortresses of memory, as, “Memory is a weapon of cultural self-defense.”


Parents can accomplish this by creating a “parallel polis,” which is an alternative set of social structures where social, intellectual, and religious life can be lived outside of official approval. Other ways parents can insulate their families from the coming soft totalitarianism is by memorizing Scripture, celebrating Feast Days, forming small groups, learning and teaching traditional cooking, among other things. These undertakings work to restore families and strengthen them.


Dreher’s critics, and there are many of them since he wrote The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation a few years ago, dismiss him as an alarmist. Perhaps with those critics in mind, the first words in Live Not by Lies are the words of Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – “There always is this fallacious belief: ‘It would not be the same here; such things are impossible.’ Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.” 


Instead of dismissing Dreher as an alarmist, an honest assessment of the cultural barometers around us indicate that it is getting more difficult for faithful Christians to live out the mandate to be salt and light.  Live Not by Lies is an important roadmap for how to carry out this mandate in the future.    

10.06.2020

Working Parents and the FMLA

 This post is by current Wills, Trusts & Estates student, Regent 2L, Rebekah D. Bunch:

In society today, more women work full or part time and more men are taking on childcare responsibilities. Despite these changes, the United States has not mandated that these families be provided with paid parental leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) mandates that only certain employees are provided up to 12 weeks of “unpaid, job-protected leave per year.” These certain employees are employees that “have worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.” The FMLA applies to public agencies, private and public elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. Eligible employees of these employers will receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the following child-related reasons: the birth and care of a newborn child or placement of a child for adoption or foster care.

The United States should provide, I proffer, paid parental leave for multiple reasons. First, new parents have new financial obligations, as it is no secret how expensive pregnancy, birth, and a child can be. Parents should have the opportunity to spend time bonding with their child and adjusting to their new life without the worry of lost income during their family leave. Secondly, these first weeks after birth are crucial for both parents and child. Having just brought a new life into the world, it is important that parents have ample time to adjust to life with a new baby, and learn about their child, as well as gain parenting skills. Lastly, paid parental leave will give fathers as well as mothers the opportunity to bond more with their child and be there for their wife at this critical time. If parents were provided with paid leave, more fathers would take that leave to care for their healing wife and become more involved in the childcare responsibilities.

Giving working parents the opportunity to focus on their families when a new child joins their family could go a long way in restoring families across society today.



10.01.2020

Teen Sex Text Hotlines


Virginia, like other states in America, has set up a Teen Sex Text Hotline @Talk2MEVA. This statewide initiative from Governor Ralph Northam, backed by the majority of the Virginia General Assembly works to encourage teens to speak to a third party contracted government official, an anonymous stranger, rather than their parents, about their questions on relationships, sexuality, sexually transmitted disease, contraception, abortion, and more, all without parental consent or knowledge.  You can learn more about the campaign at BrdsNBz sexual health text line for teens

Currently there are no checks and balances on how the state executive branch establishes these types of campaigns, or how it contracts with third party entities, such as the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA), which manages the sex text hotline.  Learn more from the Virginia Family Foundation.

 

Even though Virginia has a codified statute protecting parental rights to direct the upbringing of their own children, as well as parental consent laws for a minor seeking an abortion, this hotline works to bypass those laws and seeks to service teens with their questions on sexuality, and advances efforts to connect kids with abortion care in their communities. 

 

This type of governance does not foster family restoration in Virginia, or anywhere in America.  To learn more about this and other concerns on the assault of America’s children and their parents’ right to protect them download The Assault on Parental Rights in America.




9.28.2020

Every Mom is a Super-Hero

 


Can a mom actually balance her calling, her work and her family in a way that is effective and uplifting to those closest to her? That mom would be a super-hero, wouldn’t she?

Amy Vivian Coney Barrett is an American lawyer, jurist, and academic who currently serves as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on May 8, 2017, and the Senate confirmed her on October 31, 2017.  On September 26, 2020 the President nominated her to the United States Supreme Court.  If approved, Judge Barrett will be the first female Justice appointed to the High Court with school age children.

As a wife, mother, lawyer, former judicial law clerk, professor, and judge, the impact of her life on others is already profound.  The Wall Street Journal this weekend in a discussion of the constitutional and political ramifications of her nomination, stated a hope of return to the Constitution as the rule of law, rather than a living, breathing, progressive document that is more a guideline than law, used by judicial elites to create, rather than interpret, law.   

All of this is hope for the judicial future. For now, and no matter the election consequences, Republican Senators should do their elected duty and confirm an excellent nominee. Win or lose in November, they will have left a significant legacy in restoring proper constitutional government.

More than what this means for the American judiciary, this nomination is an inspiration that lifts mothers, fathers, children and families everywhere.  Parents are the most important people in the world, not because of their esteemed professional position, but because they positively affect people not only through their disciplines, but most importantly through their children. 

In fact, let’s agree that parents, often especially moms, are super-heroes.  Judge Barrett is just one example.  You can be the next.

 

To read more about the topics suggested and how they affect family restoration see:

A Fresh Perspective on Women and Motherhood: The Traditional Values Mother Is One of a Few Good Men, 81 Women Lawyers J. 8 (June 1995).

The New Paradigm for the Feminine Mystique: The Authentic Women’s Perspective, 2 Liberty, Life & Family 259 (June 1996).

“The Family Advisor”: The New Trend for Athletes with Family Values, (1997).

Integrating Religion, Faith, and Morality in Traditional Law School Courses, 11 Regent U. L. Rev. 49.

Marriage and the Intact Family: The Significance of Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110 (1989), 22 Whittier L. Rev. 327(2000).

The Rising Tide of Juvenile Violence: The Natural Disaster of Values Free Education, Culture and Families, 1 Barry U. L. Rev. 109 (2000).

The Rise and Fall of Women’s Rights: Have Sexuality and Reproductive Freedom Forfeited Victory? 6 William & Mary Journal of Women and Law 381, (Winter 2000).