Is it Reasonable to Expect Alimony for Your Eggs?

human eggsA previous New York Times article had an op-ed piece by Sarah Elizabeth Richards, author of “Motherhood Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It”.

In that op-ed piece Ms. Richards discusses the case of a 38 year old woman who is asking her soon to be ex-husband of 8 years to pay $20,000 to cover the cost of her egg freezing procedure, medication costs and several years of egg storage on the grounds that when they got married they started with the expectation they would start a family and now she may not have that chance much longer.

The couple had been unsuccessful in fertility treatments and as part of her legal case she is arguing that since fertility treatments were part of the marriage, they should be considered part of the marital lifestyle, which should be maintained as long as possible post-divorce.

The lawyer representing the woman is quoted in the article as saying that he hopes the case settles out of court. Should this go to court it would be a case of first impression in the country and we will all be watching what happens.



Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

Tom Clancy’s Widow Wins Legal Battle Over Taxes on $86 Million Estate

Judge rules trust for grown children must shoulder the bill

By Scott Calvert

Tom Clancy image, estate planning taxes

Tom Clancy’s widow has scored a legal victory in a long-running dispute over who should foot the hefty taxes on the author’s estate, which includes a rare World War II tank. Photo: Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

BALTIMORE—Tom Clancy’s widow has scored a legal victory in a long-running dispute over who should foot the hefty taxes on the best-selling author’s $86 million estate, which largely comes from a minority share of the Baltimore Orioles and includes a rare World War II tank.

Siding with Alexandra Clancy, a Baltimore judge ruled Friday that no taxes will come from the two-thirds share of the estate of which she is sole or main beneficiary. Instead, he ruled the entire $11.8 million tax bill is to be borne by the roughly $28.5 million trust that Mr. Clancy, who died in 2013, left his four adult children from his first marriage—a 41% tax hit.

The four children wanted the tax bill split evenly between their trust and a family trust of which Ms. Clancy is the main beneficiary. That would have raised the overall estate taxes to $15.7 million and divided it between the two sides at $7.85 million apiece.

If the judge’s ruling survives a potential appeal, Ms. Clancy would avoid paying the $7.85 million, while the adult children would owe nearly $4 million more than if they had prevailed in the case.

Although “some evidence” indicated Mr. Clancy wanted the family trust to help shoulder the tax burden, probate Judge Lewyn Scott Garrett wrote in his ruling that much of the evidence supported Ms. Clancy’s claim that her inheritance should be tax-free.

The judge pointed to language in the will that he said offers “the clearest and the predominant evidence” of Mr. Clancy’s intent, and he said that can only be achieved if his widow’s portion pays no tax. Her roughly $57.5 million share of the estate consists of the family trust and a tax-exempt marital trust. She and Mr. Clancy had a daughter, who is a minor.

Jeffrey Nusinov, Ms. Clancy’s lawyer, said in a statement, “We are pleased with the court’s thorough, well-reasoned opinion on this important issue.” Mr. Nusinov, managing attorney of the Baltimore law firm Nusinov Smith LLP, declined to comment further.

Sheila Sachs, attorney for the adult children, said she would review the decision with her clients before considering an appeal.

Mr. Clancy, who died at the age of 66, made his fortune writing techno-thrillers featuring the exploits of fictional Central Intelligence Agency analyst Jack Ryan.

Much of his estate consists of a 12% stake in the Orioles, valued at $65 million, according to court papers filed last year.

Mr. Clancy’s fascination with military equipment was on display in such best-sellers-turned-blockbusters as “The Hunt for Red October” and “Patriot Games.” Court filings detailed some unusual assets, such as a 1943 M4A1 Sherman tank known as a Grizzly. He kept it at a 535-acre Chesapeake Bay estate valued at $6.9 million.

An inventory filed with the court said Mr. Clancy had 26 “handguns and long guns of various makes and models” worth about $35,000.

Tom and Alexandra Clancy’s joint assets included six penthouse condominiums spread over 17,000 square feet at the Ritz-Carlton Residences on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Judge Garrett’s ruling also restores J.W. “Topper” Webb to his role as the Clancy estate’s executor, called a “personal representative” in Maryland. Mr. Webb drafted a 2013 amendment, known as a codicil, to Mr. Clancy’s will, and his law firm advised Mr. Clancy on estate planning.

The judge said his ruling rendered “moot” the dispute between Mr. Webb and Ms. Clancy over his interpretation that the family trust was required to share in the estate taxes. Mr. Webb didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.


Write to Scott Calvert at

Can I Contest My Uncle’s Will?

By Lucy Warwick-Ching

invitation to tea, wills

My elderly uncle died recently, leaving his substantial estate to his two sons. He was for many years providing financial support to my mother, his sister, who suffers from a debilitating illness.

When I tried to raise the possibility of ongoing support with the sons, they said in as many words that I should support her myself. Unfortunately my salary means I am in no position to do so. Would my mother, who is sound of mind if not of body, be able to make a legal claim against them?

Nicholas Yapp, partner at Gordon Dadds, says your mother may have the right to make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 on the basis that his will failed to make reasonable financial provision for her. This is because immediately before his death your mother was being wholly or partly supported financially by him.

Whether or not your mother’s case passes this “threshold test” of maintenance depends on the facts. The Court operates a commonsense approach to the question of “immediately before the date of death” and normally it will be enough to demonstrate that there was a recognisable pattern of payments made by your uncle to your mother by way of financial support.

These must have continued until his death and must not have been ended by a cessation of payments or an expression by your uncle of an intention to cease making such payments at a time before his death. In general, the longer the period for which such payments were made, the better the prospects of a successful claim.

You will need to be able to show evidence of the payments made, the basis on which they were made and the period over which they were made. Balanced against any claim which your mother may make will be the needs of any other beneficiaries of your uncle’s will, including those of his sons, to the extent that they may claim that reasonable provision has not been made for them in the will, as well as the needs of any other claimant.

If your mother intends to bring a claim she should do so not later than six months after the date on which the grant of probate was taken out. The Court enforces this time limit strictly. As a result of changes to the law, which came into effect on October 1 2014, your mother no longer has to wait for the grant to be taken out before making her claim.

Source: Financial Times


Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

Putting a Price on a Human Egg

Lawsuit claims price guidelines used by fertility clinics artificially suppress the amount women can get for their eggs. Current demand means egg donors can typically make between $5,000-$10,000 for their efforts. What process do they go through to donate?

By Ashby Jones

human egg image, healthcare and legal issues for parentsHow much is a human egg worth? The question is at the heart of a federal lawsuit brought by two women who provided eggs to couples struggling with infertility.

The women claim the price guidelines adopted by fertility clinics nationwide have artificially suppressed the amount they can get for their eggs, in violation of federal antitrust laws.

The industry groups behind the price guidance—which discourages payments above $10,000 per egg-donation cycle—say caps are needed to prevent coercion and exploitation in the egg-donation process.

But the plaintiffs say the guidelines amount to an illegal conspiracy to set prices in violation of antitrust laws. The conspiracy, they argue in court papers, has deprived women nationwide a free market in which to sell their eggs, and enabled fertility clinics to “reap anticompetitive profits for themselves.”

“It’s naked, illegal price-fixing,” said Michael McLellan, a lawyer for the women.

The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California, could go to trial next year. In February, Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero allowed the suit, first filed in 2011, to move forward on behalf of women who have donated eggs in recent years. Later this summer, Judge Spero will consider whether to broaden the case to include women who plan to donate eggs in the future and want to eliminate the caps entirely. If successful, it could upend the industry of egg donation, which has increasingly become an important option for women who have trouble conceiving because of advanced age or other problems.

The technology behind donated human eggs dates to the late 1980s. The fee hovered around $2,000 until the late 1990s, when demand went up and clinics began paying more, said Rene Almeling, a sociology professor at Yale University and author of a 2011 book on the business of egg and sperm donation.

The market for sperm donation, which has also ballooned in popularity in recent years, works differently than that for egg donation. Sperm donors generally contract with a sperm bank to give weekly samples for a year, for which they are paid about $100 each. There are no price caps on sperm donations, which are sold for between $400 and $700 per vial.

Sperm banks generally don’t charge a premium for sperm from men with particularly desirable characteristics of looks or intelligence. Such screening is often done by sperm banks, said Ms. Almeling, by requiring donors to either be enrolled in a four-year college or have a college degree, and to be taller than around 5 feet 8 inches. “Short doesn’t sell,” she said.

Rising prices for donated eggs prompted concern within the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a nonprofit medical-specialty group focused on reproductive medicine and a defendant in the lawsuit. In 2000, the organization, made up largely of doctors who pay to join, suggested that payments should not go above $5,000 without justification, and said that payments greater than $10,000 went “beyond what is appropriate.”

The price guidelines aren’t mandates. But more than 90% of the nation’s clinics belong to the society, which has adopted the guidelines.

Fertility clinics generally charge patients $12,000 to $20,000 for each donor-egg cycle, a weekslong process, which, with the help of hormones, can yield more eggs than the one or two normally released by a woman each month. About half of each payment goes to the donor. Whether a donor makes $5,000 or $10,000 or something in between depends on, for example, whether the woman has donated successfully before, and whether a clinic thinks her profile will suit the needs of an infertile couple.

Location also matters. Payments in urban areas with high demand tend to fall between $8,000 and $10,000.

More than 9,500 babies were born from embryos created with donor eggs in 2013, the latest annual figure, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology—a nonprofit organization of doctors and others who practice in assisted reproductive technologies and the other defendant in the suit.

A spokesman for both defendant organizations declined to comment, as did representatives from several fertility clinics. But many fertility clinics clearly state in promotional material that they adhere to the guidelines.

The organizations have claimed in court papers that the purpose of the pricing guidelines isn’t to enrich fertility clinics or doctors. Rather, they say, the aim is to lessen the chance that outsize payments will entice women to donate and either hide health risks that might disqualify them or ignore the possible side effects of donating.

The problem is finding a payment amount that fairly compensates women for their time and effort, but isn’t seen as too hard to pass up by college students or low-income women. The $5,000 price recommendation “might be enough to coerce some women into donating, while for others it wouldn’t be nearly enough,” said Ms. Almeling.

Leah Campbell, a 32-year-old writer in Anchorage, Alaska, suffered complications following two donor-egg cycles while in her 20s and said she became infertile as a result. Ms. Campbell, who saw fliers around her college campus promising thousands of dollars to egg donors, said she worries about the effects of unlimited compensation. “The money entices women to take on risks that they probably wouldn’t otherwise,” she said.

Ms. Campbell said she preferred the policy in other countries, including the U.K. and Australia, which don’t allow payments for eggs. “If you want to donate for altruistic reasons, go for it,” she said. “Otherwise, let’s leave the money alone.” The price caps strike others as unnecessary, even sexist. “It’s overriding a woman’s ability to choose what she wants to do, even if it’s risky,” said Julie Shapiro, a law professor at Seattle University and author of a blog on law and reproductive technologies. “We don’t ban people from cleaning nuclear waste sites because it carries some risk, we allow them to charge more to make up for it.”

Other egg donors say a robust market depends on compensation. “I helped couples achieve their dreams, and in return they helped me go to law school, buy an apartment, pursue my dreams when I was in my 20s,” said Gina-Marie Madow, a four-time egg donor now working as a lawyer at Circle Egg Donation, a Boston-based egg-donation agency. Ms. Madow said $10,000 “feels like the right amount for women to get” for a cycle but didn’t understand the reason behind the price cap. “I just don’t think the [organizations have] done a good job explaining why it exists,” she said.

The price caps might also guard against worries that women might pay more for eggs from mothers of certain ethnic or racial backgrounds, or with such traits as physical beauty or high intelligence. Such a market exists, largely through a small number of agencies that cater to couples willing to pay a premium.

“It’s a concern about eugenics, that women will pay more for eggs from an Ivy League grad,” said John Robertson, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Texas.

Kimberly Krawiec, a law professor at Duke University who has studied the egg-donor industry, played down such concerns, adding that mothers-to-be generally aren’t looking to build a genetically superior child. Ms. Krawiec said she had little issue with couples paying more for eggs from women with, say, high SAT scores. “Fertile people have been screening for beauty and intelligence for years and years,” she said. “It’s called dating.”

Source: Ashby Jones at


Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

New guidelines may encourage more talks about end-of-life care

Discussing end-of-life wishes a strain for doctors, patients

healthcare for legal issues with parentsBy Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff

Susan Johnson was never afraid to talk about death. But whenever she tried to discuss her end-of-life wishes with her children, both in their 40s, they deflected the topic with jokes. And her primary care doctor never raised the issue.

Then, a few years ago, a surgical complication left Johnson hospitalized for months. She felt death close by, and it scared her. When she recovered and returned home to Salem, N.H., she invited her son and daughter for an Italian dinner, followed by a mandatory conversation — one with no jokes allowed.

These are some of the toughest conversations a person can have, and many never get there. For Johnson, a serious illness emboldened her to break through the barriers. She told her family that if she were incapacitated, she did not want to be resuscitated.

Advocates for better end-of-life care are hopeful that such conversations will happen sooner, and more frequently, when a new Medicare rule takes effect.

Earlier this month, the federal health program for the elderly proposed to start paying physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants to talk with patients about their end-of-life wishes. Details of the plan are expected later this year, with possible adoption next year.

“It’s really an important first step. It shows we value these conversations,” said Dr. Jennifer S. Temel, a Massachusetts General Hospital oncologist, who often treats terminally ill patients.

But advocates agree it will take much more than Medicare reimbursements to overcome the obstacles to end-of-life conversations. Both patients and doctors are reluctant to talk about death, and even the willing are unsure when to start. And medical professionals get little training on how to conduct such conversations.

But as Johnson learned, talking to a doctor can make all the difference. The 67-year-old former lab technician thought she was all set after she talked with her children and filled out a form that said “do not resuscitate.” But then she had an allergic reaction to medication and doctors needed to temporarily place a breathing tube. That would have violated her directive. Her husband, Jerry, had to sign forms to authorize putting her on a ventilator.

Johnson needed only two days on the ventilator. Afterward, back home and in good health, she realized she needed to be more specific. She went to her primary care doctor, who helped her refine her instructions: no more than 10 days on a ventilator and then “remove all the machines and let me die in peace.”

Dr. Lachlan Forrow, director of ethics and palliative care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center , said some patients have the opposite experience as Johnson. They say they want life-sustaining treatment without understanding what that might entail: breathing machines, feeding tubes, an array of painful and invasive treatments.

Such predicaments, he said, point to the hazards of black-and-white directives. “The conversations aren’t about feeding tubes and DNRs [do-not-resuscitate orders],” he said. “They’re about what matters to me in life. . . . Every medical thing, they’re just tools. Any advance directive that’s about the tools but not about the person is dangerous.”

But doctors find these conversations painful and feel ill-prepared to have them, said Dr. Susan D. Block, codirector of the Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care. “They don’t want to make their patients upset by talking honestly. They worry that these conversations take away hope,” she said. “They wait for patients to initiate [the talk]. Patients say they want their doctors to initiate.”

Patients struggle, too. A survey in 2013 found that 9 in 10 Americans think it’s important to discuss their end-of-life wishes but just over a quarter had done so.

Ellen Goodman, a former Globe columnist who founded the Conversation Project to promote end-of-life planning, sees change afoot. The project’s Conversation Starter Kit, which gives tips to patients on talking to loved ones and medical professionals about their wishes, has been downloaded 200,000 times.

The proposed Medicare payment is further indication of cultural change, Goodman said. “Let’s be sure,” she cautioned, “that it doesn’t become a quick and dirty checklist, that it becomes a thoughtful conversation.” She predicted that the Medicare rule would lead to new efforts at training.

Some of these efforts are already underway.

At least 136 medical schools include end-of-life care in a required course and 94 in elective courses, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Since 2012, all physicians in Massachusetts, regardless of specialty, are required to take two hours of instruction on end-of-life issues, when obtaining a license and before license renewal every two years.

A collaborative of medical professionals called Ariadne Labs has developed a program to guide doctors in communicating with seriously ill patients. Ariadne is led by surgeon-writer Atul Gawande, author of the best-selling book, “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.” Ariadne’s Serious Illness Care Program helps doctors identify patients who are likely to die within a year and provides guidance on how and when to discuss end-of-life preferences. The group plans to test the program in 20 health care systems across the country, starting in September.

Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, a large group practice, also has recently been offering training. Doctors are advised to ask themselves this question about each patient: Would you be surprised if this person died within the next year?

“If the answer is no, then you really need to start asking about end of life,” said Dr. Holly Thomas, a primary care doctor and regional medical director for the group’s parent, Atrius Health. The goal, Thomas said, is to avoid facing such tricky decisions amid a crisis.

But there is disagreement about the right time to start the talk. The Conversation Project urges an early start, when a patient is healthy, to establish values and lay the groundwork for the more detailed conversations that occur with serious illness.

Others say there’s little value in such talks before a person is ill and can envision what lies ahead.

Dr. Angelo E. Volandes, cofounder of ACP Decisions, a nonprofit that helps patients plan their care, recommends having the discussion when the patient has “just run the Boston Marathon and they’re feeling wonderful.”

He has created a series of videos that make the options less abstract. They depict a patient on a ventilator, immobilized and invaded with tubes and wires, and show the pummeling involved in cardiopulmonary resuscitation performed on a dummy. About 200 health care organizations, such as hospitals and hospices, have licensed the videos, intended to be shown as part of patients’ conversations with doctors, he said.

Medicare reimbursement for end-of-life talks will probably bolster two recent changes in Massachusetts law.

Doctors can now consult with patients to fill out a MOLST — Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment — form, which details the level of medical interventions wanted by seriously ill patients. The form becomes part of the patient’s medical record.

Additional new rules require hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes to distribute brochures about end-of-life options and instruct nurse practitioners and physicians to counsel those nearing death.

But talks and forms are often insufficient to stop the gears of a system built to repair and cure. A study last year found that the number of people with advance directives increased from 47 percent in 2000 to 72 percent 2010, but that had little effect on how many ended up in the hospital, and how many died there — an end few would choose.


David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Maureen Bisognano keeps this photograph of her brother Johnny, who had Hodgkin’s disease and at 17 chose to spend his last days at home with his family.

“Most of the things that the health care system does is driven by forces other than what patients themselves want,” said Forrow, of Beth Israel Deaconess.

Maureen Bisognano, a nurse who is president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, learned early in her career the importance of knowing what patients want.

Bisognano’s brother developed Hodgkin’s disease, a form of lymphoma, when he was 17. She recalls a gaggle of doctors discussing his prognosis after a grueling round of chemotherapy. When all the other doctors left, one went back into the room and asked Johnny, “What do you want?” He replied, “I want to go home.”

Immediately, the doctor lifted the sick boy from his bed and carried him to his sister’s car.

Johnny went home, and died there a few weeks later, surrounded by his parents and eight siblings. That was 1976.

Just over three decades later, Bisognano’s mother suffered a massive stroke at age 78. Patricia Marie McEachern had already discussed and written down her preferences at the end of life. Though she never regained consciousness, her family knew what she wanted.

They had the tubes and lines detached, and brought McEachern home to Milton. Her children and grandchildren took turns taking care of her throughout her last days. “We were all giving back to her,” Bisognano said.

Source: The Boston Globe – Felice J. Freyer can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @felicejfreyer


Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

Complications Cloud Possibility of a Movie Based on ‘Watchman’


Town Revisits Its ‘Mockingbird’ Past

As Harper Lee’s new novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” debuts, her hometown of Monroeville, Ala., takes stock of its Harper Leerelationship to the writer and her work.

LOS ANGELES — Typically, the outsize attention given a novel like “Go Set a Watchman” would set off an immediate scramble in Hollywood for the film rights.

But, as with seemingly everything surrounding the recently rediscovered book by Harper Lee, which was published on Tuesday by HarperCollins, the situation is not that simple.

Those who represent Ms. Lee say they are not entertaining any offers at the moment, to comply with her request that the film rights be sold only after international publication of the book is complete. Beyond that, there is a question of what role Universal Pictures, which released the film version of Ms. Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 1962, would play in a film of “Watchman,” which has several of the same characters.

Other concerns may include an uncertain audience for ’50s-era period film, and how moviegoers would respond to a new portrayal of the lawyer Atticus Finch, who is depicted as a racist in “Watchman,” but is so identified with Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winning portrayal of him as a colorblind champion of justice in “Mockingbird.”

Ms. Lee “is quite particular about film rights in general and would want to have a say in how it is produced,” Andrew Nurnberg, the British agent who represents Ms. Lee, said in an email about any prospective movie version of “Watchman.”

Mr. Nurnberg gave no specific time table for when the rights might be sold, but said the book had generated “heaps of interest” among film companies. He added that some inquirers have also expressed interest in remaking “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which Ms. Lee opposes.

In any case, Universal’s role in any film based on “Watchman” still needs to be clarified. A spokeswoman for Universal declined to comment.

But two people briefed on the studio’s position, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Universal executives thought that no film could be made from “Go Set a Watchman” without their consent or participation. One of those people said the studio — which has become more focused on blockbuster fare like “50 Shades of Grey” and “Jurassic World” — had not yet decided whether it would welcome or participate in any screen version of the new book.

Deals and disputes over the control of characters have led to situations as complicated as one that found MGM, Universal and Dino De Laurentiis sharing credits on “Hannibal,” which folded the cannibal Hannibal Lecter and the F.B.I. agent Clarice Starling into a film that had to reconcile rights related to Thomas Harris novels, a De Laurentiis film called “Manhunter” and “Silence of the Lambs,” which had been released by Orion Pictures before its acquisition by MGM.

Robert Mulligan, who directed “To Kill a Mockingbird,” joined Alan J. Pakula, its producer, in making it through their Pakula-Mulligan company. They introduced the book to Mr. Peck, whose own Brentwood Productions joined in the project.

Sandy Mulligan, Mr. Mulligan’s widow, and Hannah Pakula, Mr. Pakula’s widow, declined to discuss whether the Mulligan or Pakula estates held sequel or character rights.

Shot on Universal’s back lot, “To Kill a Mockingbird” became what one former Universal executive this week referred to as a “sacred” property. It has not been mined for remakes or sequels and its principal relic on the lot — the character Boo Radley’s house — has been kept off the studio’s regular tram tour, though it is occasionally opened to V.I.P. tours.

Mr. Peck died in 2003 at 87. Until the end of his life, he answered letters and spoke to groups about Atticus, who came to stand for opposition to racial bias.

(In 1999, Mr. Peck became the second recipient, after Harry Belafonte, of the Marian Anderson Award, which recognizes artists who effect social change.)

“I never had a part that came close to being the real me until Atticus Finch,” he once said, according to Lynn Haney Trowbridge’s 2003 biography, “Gregory Peck: A Charmed Life.”

Carey Paul Peck, one of Mr. Peck’s children, said he did not know whether the Peck estate held rights that might complicate any attempt to film “Go Set a Watchman.”

Asked whether he had concerns about the characterization of Finch in “Watchman,” in which it is revealed that he once attended a Klan meeting, Mr. Peck said he did not.

“Have at it. It’s a free society,” Mr. Peck said in a phone interview.

At the same time, he said he did not expect that any film of “Watchman” would approach the achievement of “Mockingbird.”

“That’s kind of the gold, the rest is dross,” he said. “It’s not going to be the same caliber.”

Netflix, which has rights to show “To Kill a Mockingbird” on its service, has not yet considered “Go Set a Watchman” as the basis for a new film or show, a person briefed on the matter said. HBO similarly has no plans for a film project. One executive with a company that has helped to finance prominent films in the United States and Britain questioned whether any studio would invest in the period drama, unless a star of, say, Leonardo DiCaprio’s stature were to agree to play the role of Atticus. (In the book, the character is 72.)

Ms. Trowbridge said she believed that Gregory Peck would have applauded a new film, even one that presented a more complicated view of Atticus Finch.

“He was a sophisticated, educated reader,” Ms. Trowbridge said. “I think he would have said, go ahead.”

Ms. Trowbridge’s biography portrayed Mr. Peck as having viewed both Atticus Finch and Ms. Lee’s father, A. C. Lee, on whom Finch was based, as almost uniquely without flaw: “Asked if any human being could be as noble and idealistic as Atticus, Greg said, ‘I’ve met two in my lifetime — my own father and Harper Lee’s.’ ”

Mr. Peck wore A. C. Lee’s gold watch to the 1963 Oscar ceremony as a good-luck charm, and came away with the best actor award.

Mary Badham, nominated as best supporting actress that year for her portrayal of Finch’s young daughter, Scout, said she saw the makings of a fine film in “Go Set a Watchman.”

But that, she said, would require close attention to an aspect of the book and of Atticus that she thinks some have overlooked. Some early readers have focused on the unseemly opposition Atticus has to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for instance, without catching the extent to which, Ms. Badham said, Finch may be engaging in dialectics meant to challenge his now-grown daughter.

“In the right hands, it could do very well,” Ms. Badham said. “But it needs very sensitive handling.”

Alexandra Alter contributed reporting from New York.

Source: A version of this article appears in print on July 17, 2015, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Film Version of ‘Watchman’? First, Untangling the Rights . Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe


Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

Harper Lee’s Condition Debated by Friends, Fans and Now State of Alabama


MONROEVILLE, Ala. — The doubts arose almost immediately when HarperCollins announced last month that it caregiver for elderlywould release a rediscovered book by Harper Lee: Did Ms. Lee — 88, publicity-shy and famously resistant to producing a follow-up to her masterpiece, “To Kill a Mockingbird” — really want to publish a second novel that she wrote and set aside more than a half-century ago?

Weeks later, that question remains a matter of passionate debate. Despite reassurances from her publisher, lawyer and literary agent that Ms. Lee has enthusiastically endorsed the publication, the controversy over the new book, “Go Set a Watchman,” has divided some residents of her hometown here, as well as longtime friends who live elsewhere. One faction argues that Ms. Lee’s mental health is too shaky for her to have knowingly authorized the new book, while the other just as vigorously affirms her competence.

Now the State of Alabama has been drawn into the debate. Responding to at least one complaint of potential elder abuse related to the publication of “Watchman,” investigators interviewed Ms. Lee last month at the assisted living facility where she resides. They have also interviewed employees at the facility, called the Meadows, as well as several friends and acquaintances.

It remains unclear what, if anything, will come out of the investigation, now more than a month old. One person informed of the substance of the interviews, who did not want to speak for attribution because the inquiry was ongoing, said Ms. Lee appeared capable of understanding questions and provided cogent answers to investigators.

The fact that the state has undertaken an inquiry highlights the scrutiny that Ms. Lee’s publisher and lawyer are facing as they prepare to release one of the most hotly anticipated titles in decades. And the spectacle of a very public debate about Ms. Lee’s mental condition and true intentions has added an operatic blemish to what should have been a triumphant moment for HarperCollins and the millions of fans who have clamored for decades for Ms. Lee to produce another book.

A lot is at stake, including the legacy of one of the country’s most beloved authors. Many wonder whether “Watchman,” which was rejected by a publisher in the mid-1950s and then rewritten as “Mockingbird,” will turn out to be a flawed, amateur work when it is released in July, and a disappointing coda to a career that has been defined by one outsize hit.

With an investigation involving Monroeville’s most famous resident underway, friends and acquaintances who have come forward in recent weeks have offered conflicting accounts of Ms. Lee’s mental state, with some describing her as engaging, lively and sharp, and others painting her as childlike, ornery, depressed and often confused. Several people said that her condition varied depending on the day.

Ms. Lee — known to many as Nelle, her legal first name — had a stroke in 2007 and has severe hearing and vision problems. But friends who visit her regularly say she can communicate well and hold lengthy conversations if visitors yell in her ear or write questions down for her to read under a special machine. (A black marker is kept in her room for this purpose.)

Philip Sanchez, a lawyer who was a pallbearer at the funeral for Ms. Lee’s older sister, Alice, last year, and visits Ms. Lee regularly, said he is not prepared to judge whether Ms. Lee is capable of consenting to publish the book. “It’s a call only God or a doctor can make,” he said. “I am more concerned that Nelle is content than the discussion of her cognizance.”

Wayne Flynt, the Alabama historian and a friend of Ms. Lee, said the author is mentally fit, engaged and can recite long passages of literature. When he visited her a few weeks ago after hearing reports that she was depressed, they spoke about his grandson and she laughed at the stories he told. He said he believed Ms. Lee was capable of assenting to the publication of “Watchman.”

But he also said she occasionally has problems with her short-term memory. When he asked her about her new novel, he said she seemed to be “in her own world” at first, and asked, “What novel?” Reminding her of “Watchman,” he told her “You must be so proud,” and she responded with “I’m not so sure anymore,” Mr. Flynt recalled.

The only statements from Ms. Lee about the new publication — affirming her enthusiasm — have come through her lawyer, Tonja B. Carter, who handles her day-to-day affairs. Ms. Carter came across the manuscript in August and negotiated the book deal with HarperCollins. Over the course of a week, Ms. Carter did not return a phone call and text messages seeking comment. A lawyer for Ms. Carter, Bobby Segall, declined to comment. In a previous interview with The New York Times, she described Ms. Lee’s excitement that “Go Set a Watchman” would be published, and stressed she would never go against the author’s wishes.

One person who said that he had filed an anonymous complaint with the state is a doctor who has known Ms. Lee for years. The doctor said in an interview that he had called Alabama’s adult protective services hotline and asked the state to investigate whether Ms. Lee was too infirm to have fully consented to the publication of “Watchman.”

The doctor, who has not treated Ms. Lee and asked to remain anonymous because of the divisive nature of the issue, said he had been alarmed by reports of her frailty and by an account from someone he trusted who visited Ms. Lee last fall after the death of her sister, and said she was largely uncommunicative, lying in a fetal position in bed in the middle of the afternoon.

The investigation is being led by the state’s Human Resources Department with the help of the Alabama Securities Commission, which among other things, works to prevent financial fraud against the elderly. Barry Spear, a spokesman for the Human Resources Department, said he could not comment on any investigation, noting that such inquiries are confidential. But he said investigations into elder abuse are done at the discretion of the department, based on an initial assessment of a complaint, and they can involve law enforcement if there is evidence of financial exploitation.

Caseworkers generally talk to people who may be victims to evaluate their physical, mental and emotional state, and they interview doctors, family members, caretakers and friends, Mr. Spear said.

In some cases, an investigation may involve subpoenaing financial and other records. Among the records that may be available are cognitive assessments of Ms. Lee by the staff of the Meadows. The facility agreed to make such monthly assessments on each resident as part of a settlement of a 2014 review by inspectors of the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Several of Ms. Lee’s friends and two of her caretakers said that they had been interviewed by investigators. Marcella Harrington, an aide paid by Ms. Lee’s lawyer to sit with her regularly, said in an interview that investigators had asked her if Ms. Lee could recognize friends and if she was receiving proper care. Ms. Harrington said she told them that Ms. Lee is lucid and aware of the book. Asked by a reporter whether Ms. Lee was mentally alert, Ms. Harrington said, “As far as I know, she is.”

Others who met with investigators painted a different picture of Ms. Lee’s condition. The writer Marja Mills, who lived next to the Lee sisters in Monroeville for about 18 months beginning in the fall of 2004 and wrote a book about the experience, “The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee,” recently met with investigators. She shared excerpts from a transcript of what she said was a recorded conversation she had in 2010 with Alice, who died in November at 103. In the conversation, recorded with Alice’s consent, Alice described her sister as having serious memory lapses during discussions about her personal affairs, Ms. Mills said.

“She doesn’t know from one minute to the other what she’s told anybody,” Alice said of her sister, according to those excerpts. “She’s surprised at anything that she hears because she doesn’t remember anything that’s ever been said about it.”

Ms. Lee’s publisher and literary agent have dismissed suggestions that she is too mentally infirm to consent to publishing “Watchman.”

Michael Morrison, the president and publisher of HarperCollins, said he and Jonathan Burnham, the senior vice president and publisher of Harper, visited Ms. Lee over two days in February, the week after the new book was announced. “She was in great spirits, and we talked about how much we love ‘Go Set a Watchman’ and the details of the publication,” Mr. Morrison said in a statement to The Times. “It was a great meeting, and as expected, she was humorous, intelligent and gracious.”

Through a HarperCollins spokeswoman, Mr. Morrison said the company was aware of the state’s inquiry but had not been contacted by investigators.

Andrew Nurnberg, the agent handling international rights for “Watchman,” has brushed off reports that Ms. Lee is somehow being taken advantage of as “nonsense.”

But skeptics point to a different picture of Ms. Lee that emerged in a 2013 lawsuit she filed against her former literary agent, in which she said he had “engaged in a scheme to dupe” her by hiding royalty payments and appropriating the copyright to “Mockingbird.” In the lawsuit, which was confidentially settled, she was portrayed by one of her lawyers as infirm and vulnerable to those she trusts.

As the debate over Ms. Lee’s condition continues, amplified by the investigation, what was once a source of pride in this small town is now a flash point, with much of the animosity settling on Ms. Carter. Some residents of Monroeville, a town of about 6,300, seem resentful of her, calling her aggressive and needlessly protective of her client in ways that have isolated Ms. Lee from some longtime friends.

Others say Ms. Carter is a dutiful steward of Ms. Lee’s affairs and have noted that Alice Lee had retained Ms. Carter as the lawyer on her will.

“Ms. Carter has been with the Lee sisters for many, many years, and she is a first-rate lawyer,” Greg Norris, a probate judge and president of the Monroe County Commission, said.

Mr. Norris worries that the fractious debate over the new book could erode Monroeville’s literary legacy.

“I just don’t know why people would be so negative,” he said. “We are a poor rural county and this new book puts us on the map again.”

Serge F. Kovaleski reported from Monroeville, Ala., and Jennifer Crossley Howard reported from Decatur, Ala. Susan Beachy, Elisa Cho and Alain Delaqueriere contributed research.

Source: NY Times


Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

Surrogate Children Get Legal Recognition in France

Until now, surrogate children were deprived of any legal connection to their parents

(PARIS) — France’s highest court has granted legal recognition to surrogate children, in a major turnaround that willholding baby feet image, surrogate children make their daily lives easier and could lead to greater acceptance of new forms of families.

The Cour de cassation ruled Friday that, while surrogacy will remain banned in France, children born abroad through this practice will now be legally tied to their parents and will be granted birth certificates and immediate means to prove their French citizenship.

Surrogacy can involve a woman carrying an embryo created by in vitro

fertilization using another woman’s egg and her partner’s sperm. In some cases, such as those involving male gay couples, the surrogate mother is also the genetic mother of the child.

Until now, surrogate children were deprived of any legal connection to their parents, or any civil status in France. They were considered as children born from unknown legal parents, since their foreign birth certificates weren’t recognized. One lawyer has described them as “ghosts of the republic.”

Unlike other children born abroad to a French parent, these children couldn’t get automatic ID cards or passports, or register for state health care or other services.

This exposed them to frequent problems, because many basic tasks are impossible in France without an ID or authorization from a legal parent.

In addition to potential psychological troubles due to their incomplete identities, the children were also deprived of eventual inheritance, and faced major imbroglios in case of a divorce or the death of one parent.

Many hope that Friday’s ruling will increase the options for infertile and same-sex couples in France. For-profit sperm banks are forbidden, as is surrogate parenthood, seen by many as turning the womb into a commodity.

Europe’s top human rights court last year ordered the country to change the law on surrogate children, saying France’s refusal to recognize them was “an attack on the child’s identity, for which descent is an essential component.”

Until recently, the Cour de cassation had repeatedly refused to give surrogate children any legal recognition, saying they were born abroad from a “fraudulent process.”

In Friday’s ruling, the top judges had to take into account the European decision. They found that their previous case law was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, and so decided to allow the transcription of the foreign birth certificates into the French civil status.

Two separate cases leading to the new ruling involved a gay couple and a single man who had gone to Russia to have babies through surrogate mothers.

The Cour de cassation said that the French birth certificates will have to mention as the fathers the men who recognized the children abroad. The mothers listed on the birth certificate will be the surrogate women who gave birth to the children. (Is this for these two cases specifically, or in general? Would it be the same if a French woman’s egg was used for IVF into a foreign surrogate?)

The overwhelming majority of the French parents using surrogacy abroad are heterosexual couples. But the judges left open the possibility of changes for heterosexual parents as well.

Source: New York Times:


Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

Clients Divorcing? Be Sure to Handle These Estate Planning Details

Review all documents to ensure the right people inherit.

In my 30 years of practice, I have come to the conclusion that while a client may not want to be married to the person he or she is married to, that does not mean he or she wants to be divorced. Therefore, as the divorce progresses, emotions swirl, and anger and angst set in. The CPA, who has ongoing, in-depth knowledge of the client’scracked egg shell image, estate planning financial situation, can be instrumental in making sure that all details are attended to during this turbulent time.

Here are some issues CPAs and their clients must take into account during a divorce:

  1. Restraining orders. In many states, when a divorce petition is filed, what is known as an “automatic temporary restraining order” is put in place. Under a restraining order, most estate planning (such as changing estate planning documents or the designation of beneficiaries) cannot occur without a court order. In essence, all planning comes to a halt (unless a court rules otherwise) until the divorce is over. However, some documents may be revised while the divorce is pending. These may include a financial durable power of attorney and health care proxy documents, and documents that pertain to the disposition of the client’s remains. Ensure that your clients review such documents, especially if they put the client’s spouse in charge.

  3. State law, particularly as it applies to wills. In many states, a divorce, once completed, revokes the provisions in a client’s will that name a spouse as a beneficiary. However, you should still encourage divorcing clients to review and revise all estate planning documents, especially wills. Otherwise, they may unintentionally leave portions of their estate to an ex-spouse or former in-laws, as happened in a recent case in New York (In re Estate of Lewis, 978 N.Y.S.2d 527 (N.Y. App. Div. 1/3/14)). New York resident Robyn Lewis left everything to her husband, including her home, in her will. She got divorced, but did not change her will before she died at age 43. Though, under New York law, her ex-husband was now not allowed to inherit, Lewis had left her home to her father-in-law as a default provision—a provision not automatically revoked under New York law. Lewis’s family of origin contested the will, but the New York appellate court upheld the decision that the home now belongs to her ex-father-in-law.

  5. Beneficiary designations. When a client gets divorced, you should review all primary and secondary designations of beneficiaries for his or her life insurance policies, IRAs, and annuities, as getting a divorce does not automatically revoke those contract beneficiaries. In Hillman v. Maretta, 133 S. Ct. 1943 (U.S. 2013), for example, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a man’s ex-wife was still the beneficiary of a $124,558 life insurance policy, even though he had remarried before his death, as he had not changed his beneficiary designation after they divorced.

  7. Life insurance. Life insurance policies need be carefully reviewed to determine how the divorce will affect them. For example, if a couple purchased a second-to-die life insurance policy because they thought the marital deduction would defer the estate taxes until they both died, that policy must be reviewed to see what happens in the event of a divorce.
    Sometimes, after a divorce, one party does rightfully remain the beneficiary of a life insurance policy on his or her ex-spouse’s life. In these situations, the named beneficiary should, during divorce proceedings, mandate that the policy remain in force and that duplicate statements be mailed to his or her ex-spouse to ensure that payments are made on time.

  9. Estate tax. After they divorce, clients will lose the estate tax marital deduction—and therefore incur higher estate taxes if their spouse dies before they do. Prepare clients for these extra taxes by discussing topics such as what assets will cover the estate tax and whether they should obtain additional insurance.

  11. Embedded income taxes. In a divorce, many clients view the assets at their current values. The reality is that an asset may have a significant embedded gain because of a very low cost basis, depreciation, or recapture or because it is a non-Roth retirement planning asset. CPAs can call a client’s attention to embedded taxes and make sure they are taken into account in determining how the assets are to be divided.

If you are representing both spouses, be aware of potential conflicts of interest when providing advice to either of them that may be perceived as being adverse to the other spouse. In addition, ensure that both spouses have formally agreed to have the CPA represent both parties during the divorce. CPAs should consider the guidance on conflicts of interest in the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct (1.110.010 Conflicts of Interest for Members in Public Practice).

Patricia Annino
is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

Avoid these common mistakes when preparing a federal estate tax return

Attention to detail will keep your clients from paying more taxes than they should.

keyword image, estate taxes, estate planning, tax returnsAs a CPA, you may be asked to prepare or review the federal estate tax return, Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return. This form, which is due nine months after a client’s death, provides a snapshot of the assets included in the decedent’s taxable estate. The assets are valued as of the date of the client’s death and this value (for most assets) restarts the income tax basis for the assets included in the decedent’s gross estate. However, unlike on the income tax return, the client’s estate planning documents and how the assets are titled may determine how certain assets are characterized and whether certain elections should be made. Therefore, in my experience, it’s best if you and your client’s estate planning attorney both work on preparing Form 706, especially if it’s not a form that you prepare regularly. That way, you can work together to avoid costly errors such as the following:

  1. Missing the filing deadline. The estate tax return must be filed nine months after the date of death. Not doing so can jeopardize elections and cause interest and penalties to be due. If it will not be possible or practical to file the return on time, then you should file Form 4768, Application for Extension of Time to File a Return and/or Pay U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Taxes in a timely fashion. Keep in mind, however, that while filing Form 4768 provides an automatic six-month extension to file Form 706, it does not automatically extend the time allotted to pay the tax. If your client needs more time to pay, you must request an extension to do so (on Part III of Form 4768), but it’s up to the IRS whether to grant the extension.

  3. Not electing portability on the federal estate tax return of the first spouse to die. Sec. 2010(c) allows any unused federal estate tax exemption to be “portable” and therefore available to be used at the surviving spouse’s death—but only if the portability election is made on the federal estate tax return of the first spouse to die. Even if you do not think the surviving spouse will need to use the exemption, elect portability anyway, because his or her financial circumstances may change.

  5. Not including prior gift tax returns with the federal estate tax return. If you’re not a client’s first adviser, be sure to check whether his or her previous adviser prepared and filed any gift tax returns for him or her. Clients sometimes do not remember these details, so, after a client dies, have the named fiduciary write to the IRS Service Center and request copies of any prior gift tax returns. This is an important step to take, as prior gift tax returns will affect the amount of available estate and generation-skipping tax exemptions, which, in turn, affect the amount of any tax due on the federal estate tax return.

  7. Not including a tax allocation clause in a will and trust. Every will and trust should incorporate what is known as a tax allocation clause that allocates the taxes among the beneficiaries or against the residue of the estate. If there is no such clause in the document, then the law of the state in which the client is domiciled controls the allocation, and tax may be allocated to assets that would otherwise qualify for the marital or charitable deductions.

  9. Not providing adequate documentation for the assets that are valued on the return. Assets such as real estate, tangible personal property, and the interests in any closely held businesses can be hard to value. When adequate documentation is not obtained, the risk of an audit dramatically increases. Should taxes be assessed, penalties may also apply. Have appraisals (not opinions of value) made that show the fair market value at the date of death for these assets, and submit them with the tax return. These appraisals should be thorough and show comparable sales. If a discount from value is taken on the return, the appraisal should explain why that discount is the right one. The discount should also be a specific figure and not a range.

Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,