Make a Will Month

February 24, 2014

Saturday March 1 marks the beginning of Make a Will Month. I can find no information on the origins of this event, but I believe it’s a creation of the nonprofit sector, having as dual purposes encouraging people to make sure their affairs are in order and leaving some money for those in need.

Whatever its origins, Make a Will Month provides an excellent opportunity to focus on the task that, for far too many of us, always seems to be at the bottom of the “to do” list. For some the delay factor is perceived immortality. For others it is mortality and the fears that attend the certain outcome we all face. And for others the issue becomes “who

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Guardians and Conservators/The Basics, in 663 Words

February 23, 2014

In Arizona guardians look after the person, while conservators take care of their assets. (Labels vary from state to state.) Guardians may be appointed for minors or incapacitated adults. Minors need guardians when their parents have died, or when parental rights have been severed. Incapacitated adults need guardians when they lack capacity, often because of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

Courts appoint conservators for minors, who cannot have money (allowance and a savings account do not count) and for adults who need help with their financial affairs. For children, the most common events that trigger the appointment of a conservator are the receipt of money from an accident settlement and the death of a parent whose will has no

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February 22, 2014

Almost three years ago, Ms. J–yes, the same Ms. J who serves as my “food foil”–and I took a summer vacation. An unfinished essay about spaces grew out of the trip. Here it is, completed.

Lots of confined spaces. An apartment, just like all of the others in the 10-stack, next to other vertical rows with similar floor plans on either side. A hotel room, tight and small and, as it happens, in the most romantic hotel in America (the Spindrift Inn, in Monterey, CA), according to the 2011 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Hotel Awards. (That’s what you sometimes get when you get your hotel through Priceline, when you are parked on a side street in Santa Barbara, CA

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Inequality – Part 1

February 22, 2014

Inequality has become the new buzzword.[1] I have plenty to say about this issue. We live in a society that, less and less, aggregates at the mean, which is fancy talk for “the very rich are outdistancing us, as we all run in place.” Expect several posts in the coming weeks. In the meantime, one of the problems with the inequality discussion involves a lack of information, Herewith, some information:

We hear plenty about the middle class, protecting the middle class, building the middle class, the evaporating middle class, etc. So who belongs in the middle class?

Income and wealth get very much blurred in our discourse. But for the lucky few with inherited wealth, wealth is a function

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Momofuku Bo Ssam

February 20, 2014

Ms. J does not love meat. She eats chicken and turkey, likes well-done salmon, and passes on most everything else. Or so I used to think!

A few years ago I fell into the momofuku ambit. Momofuku means lucky peach, and it’s also a restaurant group, started and led by David Chang. (Learn more at momofuku.) I have not dined at any of its 12 locations in New York City, Toronto, and Sydney. I have, however, made two of the highly touted momofuku dishes at home.

We’ll skip Crack Pie for now. It’s a variation on Chess pie, a southern favorite; alas, it’s more complicated, sweeter, and one very fine pie.

Right now, we’re focusing on momofuku bo ssam

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The Home Buying Process

February 20, 2014

Real estate transactions are process-driven creatures. For many people, however, the process can be a mystery, where steps occur and the deal flows along without any meaningful appreciation for what’s happening. Herewith, a primer:

So you’ve found a home you want to buy in Arizona. Let’s assume you’re working with a real estate agent. You want to pay $450,000, and you’re a cash buyer, i.e., you don’t need financing.

Step one involves a written offer. Your agent can and will help you prepare the offer. Usually, your offer will be on a contract form (provided by the agent), and may be called a Deposit Receipt and Agreement, or a Residential Resale Real Estate Purchase Contract. Read this document, for

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I’m Not A Curator!

February 18, 2014

A curator is a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection. In modern times the term also describes someone who collects material for others to read, view, buy, etc. As the Mark Rubin Writes schedule develops and I gain an appreciation for the balance between the arid world of legal concepts and the pleasures attendant to restaurant reviews and other finer things, I thought Wednesday would be my day to play curator, finding great pieces from here and there for your mid-week pleasure. Alas, the New York Times busted my a*s, big-time, with this totally uncivil piece, On the Tip of Creative Tongues, about the pomposity attendant to “curating.” (Click and read. It’s actually pretty funny!)


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The U.S. Supreme Court Docket

February 17, 2014

My friend the judge—when I call him to go to lunch he answers “this is the judge”—never wants for business. He takes what comes and if he recuses himself because of a conflict—he knows one of the parties, one of the attorneys is a very close friend, etc.—someone else will have to handle the matter. That is the way of judging at the trial level and in most appellate courts.

Alas, the highest appellate courts in the states and the United States Supreme Court control their dockets mostly, deciding which cases to hear and not hear. (Certain states mandate “highest court review” of all cases involving a death sentence.) The United States Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over a very

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February 16, 2014

Probate means, most narrowly, “proving a will,” and derives from the Latin verb probare (try, test or prove). In fact, its practical definition is much broader.

Generally, probate refers to the process for handling an estate after death. Thus, probate matters can involve the estate of an individual who dies with a will (testate), or without one (intestate). Probate cases involve the courts, and in most instances are about and only about gathering assets, paying debts, and distributing what is left over.

Probate also refers to the court and laws that exist to:  (a) address the administration of decedent’s estates; (b) handle trust disputes; and (c) appoint and supervise guardians (protectors of the person) and conservators (protectors of property)

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Founding Fathers … and Claptrap!

February 15, 2014

Everybody minds and pays homage to the Founding Fathers. And the Framers, those Founding Fathers who drafted the Constitution.

Justice Antonin Scalia’s model for deciding cases—original intent—directs justices and judges to determine the intent of the Framers, as it is embodied in the text of the Constitution. Sarah Palin and Mika Brezinski love the Founding Fathers. Ms. Palin says “all of them” are her favorites, and Ms. Brezinski likes Abraham Lincoln, who was born in 1809, 22 years after the nation adopted the Constitution! Speaker Newt Gingrich tells Governor Mitt Romney the Founding Fathers wanted to be sure opportunities existed for the very poor, responding to Governor Romney’s statement that he won’t worry about the poor if he becomes the

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