By Falco Sult on
12/17/2012 11:39 AM
By Ann Marsh, Financial Planning
If anyone needs proof of the importance of revisiting their estate plans annually, the case of the high-net-worth Tweten family on the West Coast should supply it.
In a "tentative" ruling, a Superior court judge in Riverside County, Calif., found on behalf of Leonard Tweten, the founder of audio visual company Magnolia Audio Visual, that his two estranged daughters may not receive their late mother's half of the $100 million estate right away. Instead, the estimated $50 million in dispute will remain with their father, who will derive income and other benefits of ownership of the sum contained in a marital trust. The sum will pass to the daughters only on his death.
Attorneys for Leonard Tweten, 85, claim the decision demonstrates that courts will rule to support the intent of a decedent, regardless of technical glitches related to the anomalous tax year. The attorneys add that the case underscores why clients should always reconsider their estate plans annually given the annual flux in estate laws. If they don't, they could end up with fractured relationships among heirs like the Twetens.
"Even the most skilled professionals may be there and it may not dawn on them that your estate plan may change as a result of a change in the law," says Lee, of Ervin Cohen & Jessup in Beverly Hills. Had Eileen Tweten, Leonard's wife of 58-years and a longtime co-worker in the family company, died in another tax year, no opportunity for such a dispute could have arisen. The fact that she died in 2010 made all the difference.