What Can We Learn From Leonard Cohen?

The singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist, Leonard Cohen died in November 7, 2016 with an estate plan that included a trust that was amended a few times. Just this week, his son and daughter, sued Cohen’s former manager Robert Kory in an attempt to remove him as the trustee of the trust. The kids are accusing Kory and his legal representative of forging the document that appointed him as the trustee. In their most recent motion, they note that Kory previously admitted to removing a page from the signed trust and switching it out for one that named him a trustee…..after Cohen passed away. YIKES!

Kory, who described the confusion over the documents as “a scrivener’s error,” blamed his attorney for the disputed switched pages. DOUBLE YIKES!! Cohen’s trust is valued at over $48M.

So what can we learn from this Poet of Brokenness?

We can discuss scrivener’s errors. Scrivener is writer or a professional drafter of documents. I’m a
scrivener. You may also be a scrivener. Sometimes scriveners make mistakes, we’re all human after all. Those mistakes may be considered scrivener’s errors. A scrivener’s error is an unintentional mistake (what mistake is intentional, I ask) in the document such as an incorrect word, number or letter. We often use them to correct mistakes on deeds or documents that are recorded. In fact, Florida has a statute, §689.041 detailing the curative procedures for scrivener’s errors in deeds. In short, instead of a corrective deed or re-doing the entire deed and getting folks to re-sign, we may record a corrective document noting a scrivener’s error. The statute does clarify that the scrivener’s error may only correct one mistake on the deed; one must draft deeds carefully.

Now, the scrivener’s error is intended to correct one small mistake that nobody cares about. It would
be difficult to stretch scrivener’s error idea to a page that was taken out of a trust, replaced with
another page that changed the terms of the trust and the trustee ….after the grantor passed away.

So, there you have it, people make mistakes, we know how to fix them with a scrivener’s affidavit.
However, forgery is not usually a mistake that can be fixed with via a scrivener’s affidavit.

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With over 50 years of combined experience, our probate, estate planning, real estate, elder law and asset protection attorneys provide peace of mind for our clients throughout South Florida.

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