Thursday, November 15, 2018

Aretha, Prince and the Simple Need for Estate Planning

I was not especially surprised to learn that Aretha Franklin died without a will. It's becoming a common occurrence and  I sort of expected the Queen of Soul to live forever .I bet she did too.  I knew that Aretha was divorced and had four sons, all adults – so the division of her assets seemed straightforward to me.  But then I read that one of her sons might have special needs and that Ms. Franklin had a long-term companion whom she apparently made no provision for.  
 
I hate to say it  but this is irresponsible.  An artist like Aretha Franklin, with a sizable estate and a royalty income stream that will carry on for years should have had an estate plan – at the very least a simple will and a special needs trust if one was warranted.  As the New York Timesnoted , she could have set up a revocable trust, avoided the probate process and accomplished an ideal distribution of her property.  I have been reading a great deal about the Prince estate – he also died without a will – and it seems like his income is going to  lawyers and the IRS instead of his heirs (perhaps not having a surviving spouse or a living child he didn't care – who knows?). 

I am constantly preaching the need for estate planning and this is especially true for artists, songwriters, princes and queens.  Don’t put this stuff off. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Gratitude

To My Clients:

I wanted to thank you for your continued support as I enter my 35th year of practicing law. I still remember driving down to the Board of Law Examiners on Church Street with my friend Ken Levitan  when they used to post the names of those who passed the Bar Exam  on a certain October day.  I think we were both a little surprised and very relieved. This is a very different business than the one I entered back in 1983 but I continue to be intrigued by the practice and the opportunity to be of service to my clients.

As a way of trying to show gratitude for the past thirty five  years of practice, I am offering  a complimentary document review for any of my clients who might want to review older contracts such as old record deals or  publishing agreements, licenses, trademarks – you name it.   If you were wondering what an agreement meant but didn’t  want to spend the money to find out—this is your opportunity. If this is of interest to you, just let me know.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Bitcoin, blockchain and Is Code Law?

I probably  know  less than my dog about bitcoin and block chain technology.  Like Nick Paumgarten says in his recent New Yorkerarticle, "The Stuff Dreams are Made Of," "I'd ideally hoped I might be just old enough to make it to my deathbed without having to get up to speed."  But I really did want to try and understand blockchain technology and what the hell  everybody else in the world seemed to comprehend except me. For a primer, I read Paumgarten's article.  He does a good job of explaining the concepts and the players involved. 

However, the most interesting part of the article to me was his description of something called the Decentralized Autonomous Organization, defined as "A crowd sourced venture fund, a way of using smart contracts to cut out traditional venture capitalists, reduce fees, and give access to regular civilians who contribute 'ether' (i.e. cryptocurrency) and vote on which projects to invest in."  The author tells us that within weeks of launching,  the site was hacked and that investors lost their money - it simply vanished (literally into the ether). 

This set up an ethical debate: could or should the people behind the fund reverse the transactions to restore the investors to their funds - or would this be "a violation of the principle that blocks must remain immutable?" In the terrestrial  world this would be an obvious crime. 

Then the article gets really interesting:

            We were all wondering is code law?  What is code?  What is law? What is the covenant?    It was almost epistemological.  We were a bunch of computer geeks way out of our       depth.  

I thought about this for hours.  We really are witnessing the creation of a whole new society and a new set of laws to govern that society.  This is a world that exists without traditional concepts of jurisdiction.  It is easy to lump this into a discussion of the internet, social media , Russian hackers and all of the other inventions that have morphed into something we could not have comprehended.  But I really believe that this might be the beginning of something entirely unique and it does give us an opportunity to watch laws develop.

However, I still don’t get the allure of bitcoin. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Happy Birthday Blog

Today marks  the 10th Anniversary of my little blog. I have had a lot of fun researching and writing these posts over the past decade and I have had some really interesting interactions as a result of the blog. I do feel that  I have neglected the blog
recently due to the demands of my practice and life events but I intend to remedy that. I have a bunch of things that I want to write about.

Anyway..thanks for reading!

Trip Aldredge


Sawnie R. Aldredge
Aldredge Law
P.O. Box 120713
Nashville, Tennessee 37212


Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

RANT

The Nashville Business Journal recently reported that Nashville has seen the greatest cost of living increase in the entire United States citing a study that showed that it takes a salary of $70,150.00 to live "comfortably" in the city.  At the same time, Rolling Stonemagazine just reported that the median U.S. musician earns less than $25,000.00 a year.  

None of this is news to a struggling musician or songwriter--or anyone who has had to pay for parking recently in downtown Nashville.

It does however drive home so many important points.  The people who have been spreading the gospel of the need for affordable housing in Nashville have been saying this for years.  How can a city which depends so heavily upon  its vibrant music scene continue to attract musicians and songwriters if they can't afford to live here? 

 More to the point, I think that these statistics say volumes about the devaluation of music in general. 

I originally wrote this blog post with an ending that suggested several solutions-but honestly musicians and songwriters will figure it out. Scenes develop where the conditions are right, be that Liverpool, Austin, Texas, Athens, Georgia, Portland, Oregon or Memphis. However, as a city, Nashville will have to decide what it wants to be-long after the tall skinny houses collapse, Music Row becomes one large  condo/hotel development and the bridesmaids and pedal taverns leave town. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Civil Procedure: He Went To Jared's

Like many people I know I have been fixated upon the Trump Russia scandal, devouring the news in a way that I haven't done since I was a teenage paperboy during the Watergate era. I have become fascinated with some of the minutiae of the story.  I could spend hours reading up on Michael Cohen and Michael Avenatti and their respective law practices.   

            But the story that resonates with me this week involves the lawyers for the Democratic National Committee and their problems serving a summons on Jared Kushner in the case Democratic National Committee v. The Russian Federation et al..  While Kushner's lawyers say that he is "easy to find" (apparently since he works at the White House), DNC lawyers have stated in court that they have tried to serve the summons three times at Kushner's New York apartment, that the Secret Service has rebuked their attempts to serve him in Washington (what issues does that raise?) and that their attempts to serve him by certified mail have literally been returned.  

            I think that this was interesting enough to go back and review the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and see what they say about service of process of a summons in a lawsuit:

FRCP 4(e) SERVING AN INDIVIDUAL WITHIN A JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF THE UNITED STATES. Unless federal law provides otherwise, an individual—other than a minor, an incompetent person, or a person whose waiver has been filed—may be served in a judicial district of the United States by: 
(1) following state law for serving a summons in an action brought in courts of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located or where service is made; or 
(2) doing any of the following:
(A) delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the individual personally;
(B) leaving a copy of each at the individual’s dwelling or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and discretion who resides there; or 
 (C) delivering a copy of each to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.


 All lawyers have war stories about the occasional difficulties of getting a summons or subpoena served.  It is one of the many things they don't tell you about in law school. It's a small but important detail that can derail an entire lawsuit.  I have had to come up with ingenious ways to get people served on numerous occasions.  

It does seem strange that an individual as high profiled as Jared Kushner would go to such great lengths to avoid getting served with process was surprised that the Judge did not give the DNC  some relief if in fact the allegations they made regarding service is true. The Judge denied the motion to allow service of proves by first class mail (at least for now) stating “ Service (of process) is not intended to be a game for the serving party or the party to be served” adding “the Court is confident that the DNC’s counsel can contact Kushner’s counsel; and arrange a mutually convenient mans to effectuate service”. Given what we have seen so far, this will be interesting. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Coming Attractions

I was recently in Havana, Cuba. A friend pointed out this poster for an upcoming gig by the Baquestri-Bois. I started thinking about all of the trademark implications until I remembered, oh yeah...you're in Cuba.