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23 Mile Buckskin Gulch Hike

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Lest any of our friends or clients think that all we do is go to court, take depositions and sit in the office talking on the phone or doing research and writing, we decided to share the video of our epic hike of Wire Pass, Buckskin Gulch and Paria River.  Our attorneys Kent Berk, George Smith and Justin McKay completed the 23+ miles in about 10 hours on June 12, 2016.  It was awesome!  Around every corner was another unique and beautiful scene, each created by nature.

Buckskin Gulch is apparently the longest slot canyon in the world.  The canyon is unique because of the length and depth of its ever changing narrows. The narrows extend uninterrupted for nearly 15 miles.  Some of the canyon walls extend up to 500 feet.  A trip through the dark, narrow canyon is an unforgettable experience. Watch our video to get a sense of the magnitude and awe inspiring natural beauty of this amazing (and very long) hike.

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Keeping a Healthy Brain

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Brain HealthMost people are concerned about keeping their brains healthy and active as they age. With high anticipated rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia projected for the future, this should be important for everyone. Indeed, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that 1 in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. To learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia, read our article about Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease in Arizona Will and Trust Contests. So, what exactly can we do to keep our minds in top shape?

Research regarding brain health has come a long way. Before getting to the current recommendations, here are some tips, published over 400 years ago in 1596, to keep your brain healthy from author A.T., written in his book A Rich Store-House or Treasury for the Diseased:

  • Eat sage, but not too much
  • Keep the head warm
  • Wash your hands often
  • Smell red roses
  • Wash your temples with rose water
  • Drink wine, measurably, and
  • Listen to little music

[Read more…]

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Attorney Kent Berk Featured on Money Radio 1510

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Scottsdale Money Radio | Kent BerkLast week one of our very own was featured on Money Radio 1510AM – Phoenix to discuss several topics, including elder abuse and financial exploitation.

Click here to listen to the full interview.

[Read more…]

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Kent Berk to be Interviewed on Money Radio

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Join Kent for a discussion regarding elder law on Friday, January 29, 2016 from noon to 1:00 PM on Money Radio 1510 AM or 99.3 FM.  The show can be heard live on www.moneyradio1510.com.  Kent will discuss claims and remedies for financial exploitation of vulnerable adults under Arizona’s Adult Protective Services Act, including:

  • Purposes & Construction of the Act.
  • Who is protected?
  • Who is subject to the Act?
  • What are the requirements of the Act?
  • What are the remedies?
  • Other issues.

Mark your calendars for this informative broadcast.

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B.B. King’s Estate Dispute

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The recent death and loss of blues legend B.B. King was saddening. Shocking, however, are the allegations that King was murdered by his longtime business manager and executor of his estate, Louise LaVerne Toney. A dispute regarding the estate is now in court with two of King’s daughters, Patty King and Karen Williams, leading the charges against Toney.Blues legend B.B. King

According to BBKing.com, the Official Website, “He started life as Riley B. King in one of America’s most impoverished places, the Mississippi Delta. He had little but the dream in his heart and a destiny that would take him around the world. Now he’s an international music icon, and Blues aficionados from all over the planet want to hear more and know more about B.B. King.”

Estate disputes are not uncommon.  The rich and famous are not immune.  Patty King and Karen Williams have raised allegations of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation against Toney.

[Read more…]

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UNC Basketball Coach Dean Smith Leaves Behind a Special Gift

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basketballDean Smith, the great basketball coach for the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, died recently at the age of 83. His reputation among the UNC alumni and athletic department would go so far as lauding him as revered. One of professional basketball’s greatest all-time players, Michael Jordan, was quoted after the passing of his college coach, “Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach—he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it. In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life.” This is high praise from one legend to another. [Read more…]

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Arizona Supreme Court Clarifies Anti-Deficiency Statute

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Since the downturn in the Arizona real estate market and increase in the number of loan defaults and foreclosures, lenders and borrowers have fought over the interpretation of Arizona’s so-called anti-deficiency statutes.

Disputes between lenders and borrowers have involved, for example, (1) what is a dwelling? (2) does a dwelling have to be someone’s primary residence? (3) what is a purchase money loan? (4) does a construction loan qualify as a purchase money loan? and (5) can an incomplete dwelling still be considered “limited to and utilized for either a single one-family or single two-family dwelling?”  This post focuses on the last issue, recently addressed by the Arizona Supreme Court.

But, before addressing that, I will cover the basic requirements to qualify for protection.

[Read more…]

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Lessons from Robin Williams’ Trust Dispute

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Robin WilliamsAfter the passing of a loved one, family members and friends normally gather to find solace or to celebrate the person’s life. Or at least that is the order and manner in which most people would wish to be remembered. To this end of allowing space to grieve, creating estate planning documents should assist the bereaved in efficiently handling their loved one’s worldly affairs. However, conflict can still occur between family members. And, conflict is more likely when the estate planning documents have gaps or are subject to differing interpretations.

Sadly, this appears to be the situation with the trust of Robin Williams, the late comic actor. As his family works through a trust dispute in court, the public may learn some valuable lessons on how to better prepare for (or ways to avoid) similar situations.

Beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams passed away suddenly in the summer of 2014, leaving fans and family in shock over the loss. Now, as the trust’s administration and distribution gets underway, Mr. Williams’ family has become embroiled in a trust dispute over the allocation of specific personal memorabilia and other property. The problems allegedly stem from a lack of specificity in the trust that was prepared presumably by an attorney and relatively recently executed by Mr. Williams on June 24, 2010 and amended and fully restated on January 31, 2012.

[Read more…]

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Probate and Trust Lessons from the Rich and Famous

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Celebrity Probate TrustThe old saying that celebrities are just like us with more money holds true in some cases, but it definitely holds true in the realm of probate, trust administration, and estate planning. Celebrities make mistakes in timing, selecting a plan, holding onto outdated plans, or just failing to put anything in writing. Handling an incomplete or unnecessarily complicated probate or trust administration can leave even the strongest families feeling confused and frustrated during a time of grief. Failing to plan can have devastating financial repercussions as well. We can all learn more by observing the way public figures plan and then handle their otherwise private family affairs. As spectators, however, we have the advantage of observing and learning from a safe distance.

What are some of these lessons, even when the financial lives of everyday people barely resemble those of the wealthy and famous? This article appearing in Forbes.com illustrates some examples of how different celebrities’ estates affected their families and how some practical changes could have improved most of these situations.

Here are a few of the lessons taken from the article:

  1. After Patrick Swayze died, members of his family questioned the validity of his will. Some family members questioned whether the will had been forged during Patrick Swayze’s final stay in a nursing home. This type of probate challenge is called a will contest. Will contests can include signing under undue influence (force or threats), when the person lacked mental capacity , or fraud. The article points out the problem the Swayze family encountered during the will contest: challenging a will in probate court requires following the statute of limitations. The timing of the challenge is always dictated by state law and varies from state to state. Seeking an experienced Arizona probate litigation attorney allows a family’s interests to be protected within the applicable deadlines.
  1. The untimely passing of fashion designer L’Wren Scott, Mick Jagger’s girlfriend, left the famous lead singer bereaved to the point of postponing his multi-national touring shows. While the average person may be able to take time off from work to mourn the death of a loved one, the contractual obligations for unique performers like the Rolling Stones can be non-negotiable. Unfortunately for Mick Jagger, the insurance carriers that cover performance venues demanded performance on the broken contract. The lesson here is that insurance disputes can cost grieving families. Wise planning and having a strong legal strategy makes the best defense.
  1. Author Tom Clancy’s trust was drafted in such a way as to leave ambiguity regarding payment of estate taxes. The resulting lawsuit has embroiled family members against one another instead of allowing space and time to grieve and honor the late author’s memory. The lesson here is that any family with assets exceeding the state and federal estate tax exemption needs clearly drafted estate planning documents. In the event of a dispute, a trust litigation attorney can assist in clarifying ambiguities.

There are several other key lessons included in the article, so by all means, continue to read more of the article Forbes.com. For additional questions or concerns about Arizona probate litigation, Arizona trust litigation, or Arizona will contests, Berk Law Group, P.C. is here to help.

Photo Credit: ♥ Xanda ♥ via Compfight cc

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Scottsdale Trust Litigation

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Elderly woman with daughterTrusts are often sold to seniors as a device allowing them to pass their property to their children and other loved ones with the least possible expense, time and hassle. That may be true where there are no complications and everyone in the family gets along.

Trusts, at least theoretically, reduce the expense, time and inconvenience of settling your affairs after you’ve passed away because they typically avoid probate.

Probate” refers to the process to administer a deceased person’s property. Probate starts with (A) the acceptance of a will as the governing instrument for how the assets should be distributed or a declaration that the person died without a will (called an intestate estate); and (B) the appointment of a personal representative. There are very specific and sometimes complex rules that apply in probate cases, so many people want to avoid probate like a disease and take elaborate steps to keep their property out of court. [Read more…]

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