Thursday, May 30, 2019

Johnny Hallyday’s Domicile? See Instagram!

Hallyday in 1965
Johnny Hallyday, France's answer to Elvis, was little appreciated by U.S. audiences. In France he was a
national icon, right up there with Edith Piaf.

Hallyday died in 2017, leaving two wills, one of which was probated in Los Angeles, where he and his fourth wife had taken up residence in 2007. The will leaves everything to his widow, who has their two adopted children in her care. The will leaves nothing to Hallyday's two older children from previous marriages.

In France, where a form of forced heirship still rules, the older children would not be disinherited. So they went to court in France, seeking to show that Hallyday had still been domiciled in France, not LA.

The French court has now agreed to take up the case, convinced in part by photos Hallyday had posted on his Instagram account from 2012 to 2017.  They indicate that he spent more than 150 days in France during both 2015 and 2016. In 2017 he was in France for eight months before his death.

In the age of not only Photoshop but AI, the use of digital photographs as evidence seems destined to become increasingly iffy. No other type of fake news is easier to create.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Climate Change: Europe Flooded with Tourists

Photo: Rick Steves Blog

Travel agents (remember them?) used to tell us to visit Europe in spring or fall, to avoid the crowds of summer. This spring you would have arrived in London, Paris or Rome only to find your access to tourist attractions already blocked by long lines.

Got clients preparing to join the crowds? Do them a favor by sharing the tips offered by travel writer Cameron Hewitt.

More Americans than ever seem to be getting passports and venturing abroad. Newly affluent tourists from China, India and Russia add to the crush. If the world economy is headed downhill as many investors fear, it appears to be starting from an impressive high.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Senators Seek Penalties on Brokers Who Inherit

"I'd like your opinion about an inheritance question," a woman told the Ethicist at Investment News. Her aunt had died, leaving a will that named the aunt's financial adviser and his attorney friend as co-executors. The will left 25 percent of her estate to the questioner's father. Another 25 percent was left to the aunt's close friend. The rest went to the financial adviser.

Kosher? No, ruled the Ethicist. The financial adviser should not have assumed the role of executor. As for his inheritance (close to half a million, apparently) "if the financial adviser is wise, he will step down immediately and disclaim any rights to his former client's assets."

Now, another case of questionable inheritance reported by Gretchen Morgenson in The Wall Street Journal has prompted a bipartisan foursome of U.S. Senators to write Finra urging closer regulation. Advisers accepting such gifts “should forfeit the bequests, pay large fines and/or be unable to serve as financial professionals in the future.”

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

1969 Trust Ads Featured Two Historic Generations

Half a century ago, Chemical Bank was running ads for trust and investment services that portrayed men and sometimes women of means.

This example features a member of the Greatest Generation – the men who came home from war and prospered in the quarter century that followed. His $830,000 wasn't chicken feed – it's equivalent to almost $6 million today.

Chemical's ads series became familiar enough to inspire this playful variation – a Trust Fund Baby from the soon-to-be-notorious Baby Boom generation.

Monday, May 13, 2019

A Private Bank by Any Other Name . . .

Family office services…plus loans to wealthy clients who need quick cash to meet a capital call or buy a villa…plus investment selection and supervision.

The functions of a private bank? Yes. but in this case the tasks are performed by the team Lyon Polk has assembled at Morgan Stanley. They manage over $15 billion.

Banks, trust companies, wirehouses and advisory firms all seek to offer comprehensive services to the wealthy. And it's getting hard to tell them apart.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Have a will

Nice article in Bloomberg about a millionaire who did not have a will, nor did he have immediate family.  An heir-finding company eventually located nieces and nephews.  Lots of colorful detail in the article, I won't spoil the punchline.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Can the IRS be Saved?

Paragraph we never expected to read in the newspaper:
One 2020 candidate already has a bold proposal to resuscitate the I.R.S. It’s a plan to pump tens of billions into the agency, enough to fund a second army of agents. That candidate’s name is Donald Trump.
In political folklore Republicans are known for disliking federal taxes and fiercely disliking paying taxes, so the future of the president's budget proposal is anyone's guess.

Still, this op-ed by two Politico reporters reminds us that the IRS is an endangered bureaucracy, underfunded and understaffed. Notably lacking: hundreds of highly-trained auditors needed to go toe-to-toe with aggressive tax planners.

Will the IRS receive the many billions needed to restore the agency to fighting trim? Probably not, unless the president is tired of being the only high-income celebrity under constant audit.