Improper Estate Planning Reveals the Secret KFC Recipe!

Happy New Year! In the culinary world, a secret recipe is everything. For fast food giant KFC, the recipe for its chicken is so closely guarded that it sits in a 770-pound safe covered in two feet of concrete and monitored by motion sensors and video cameras. Seriously, it sounds like something out of a Mission Impossible movie!

Yet recently, as covered in a New York Times article, the company’s lip-smacking spice blend may have been revealed to the world via the last will and testament of Colonel Sanders’ second wife. It all started this past August when Jay Jones, a reporter for The Chicago Tribune, traveled to Corbin, Kentucky to write a piece about the town where the famous Colonel first made his fried chicken.

Mr. Jones set up a meeting with Colonel Sanders’ nephew, Joe Ledington. At some point during the meeting, Mr. Ledington pulled out an old scrapbook that contained pictures and family memoirs. Allegedly, the scrapbook was the property of Claudia Ledington, Colonel Harland Sanders’ second wife who passed away in 1996. Tucked away in the back of the scrap book was Claudia’s last will and testament. In the last pages of the will was a handwritten recipe for a spice rub. Mr. Ledington claimed that the 11 spices and herbs listed in the last will were in fact the secret recipe locked up tight in a safe weighing nearly 800 pounds.

Yum Foods, the parent company that owns KFC, claims the recipe isn’t accurate. The exact spice blend from Claudia Ledington’s last will and testament is as follows and should be mixed with 2 cups of flower:

2/3 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon thyme
1/2 tablespoon basil
1/3 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried mustard
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons white pepper

Now, from an estate planning perspective, a couple of things can be learned. First, you can bequeath amazing recipes to your descendants. However, if you have a recipe that may be responsible for hundreds of franchise restaurants and billions of dollars in revenue, you may want to update your estate plan. In 1996 when Claudia Ledington passed away, KFC was already a successful brand and household name. Instead of leaving the original spice rub on a hand-written note in the back of a scrap book, she may have wanted to rewrite and seal the document in a safe or safety deposit box.

Second, if you do have a secret recipe to leave in your safety deposit box, it’s never a good idea to leave your last will and testament in your safety deposit box. It’s like leaving the key to the deposit box in your deposit box.

Whether you need help leaving Grandma’s famous apple pie recipe to your children or establishing a trust, it is in your best interests to contact an experienced estate planning lawyer. If you have any questions, please call us at (908) 236-6457, or email me at

Questions to Consider When Estate Planning

wills, estates, estate planning, what, to, leave, union, hunterdon, new jersey

Many people avoid planning their estate or speaking to an estate planning attorney because they fear their own mortality. Let’s face it — pondering your demise and how your survivors will spend your hard-earned assets can be unsettling.

However, like going to the doctor, seeing an estate planning lawyer can grant you peace of mind. Wouldn’t you like to sleep at night knowing that if something should happen to you, the people you love will be taken care of?

Prior to speaking to an estate planning attorney, you should take a moment to write down and answer the following difficult, yet often overlooked questions:

1. Have I listed my passwords and security codes for my accounts? In the digital age it is easy to accumulate a notebook full of account usernames and passwords for online banks, social media sites and investment institutions. In the event of your death, what will happen to these accounts? Who will manage them? Will they expire? Should they expire? Will they even be accessible? Questions about digital assets are very important.

2. Should my family pull the plug if I become incapacitated? It’s a difficult question to ask and answer, but the reality is that life-changing injuries and diseases occur, especially as we age. If you should fall into a coma or suffer a traumatic brain injury, what do you want to happen? Without explicit instructions, your family may not know what to do.

3. Who will look after Fido after I die? Do you have a dog, cat, bird or other pet? Have you thought about what might happen to him or her after you die? It is important to include specific instructions regarding your pet — if you fail to answer this question, your beloved companion may be carted off to a shelter. A pet trust might be the answer.

4. Is my family aware of ALL of my relationships with others? Imagine this scenario: You’re married for 25 years and have three wonderful children. However, at some point in time you secretly have an extra-marital affair that none of your family members know about. Suddenly at your funeral, your spouse and children encounter your lover — heartache turns sour as two worlds collide. Be sure to ask the attorney about conflicts of interest.

5. Who will raise the kids if my spouse and I both pass away? If you are thinking about your estate plan, surely you’ve thought about what will happen to your kids if you should suddenly die — your spouse will look after them, right? However, what if you and your spouse die together, or shortly after one another? What will become of your children? Make sure you know who your guardians are going to be.

These are only few examples of the type of important questions you need to think about when planning your estate. For more information on estate planning in Hunterdon and Union Counties, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., by email at or call 908-236-6457 today.

Long Lost: Establishing Parentage for Intestate Succession

intestate, wills, trusts, estate planning, union and hunterdon counties, new jersey

Long Lost: Establishing Parentage for Intestate Succession

Today was a big day for 28-year-old Andy. Based on a tip provided by an elderly aunt, he was finally able to locate his long-lost father. Unfortunately he also found out that his father had only hours to live and would be leaving a vast fortune behind. Andy rushed to the hospital, but by the time he got there, his father had already expired without ever meeting Andy.

Andy was grief stricken and severely disappointed. He would never know his father. Yet one question that remained was whether Andy would benefit from the fortune left behind by the decedent. The answer to that question depends on a number factors including:

1. Is Andy in fact the man’s biological child?

2. Did the man die intestate?

3. If the man left a will, did he acknowledge Andy in the will?

The first question is a simple matter of fact. Andy was not raised by the deceased man and never met him before. Thus he must prove that he is either the biological or adopted child of the man. Proving that he is the biological child is relatively easy in modern times. Pursuant to state law, Andy is entitled to have a judge order that DNA samples be taken from Andy and the decedent and then compared. If Andy is a genetic match to the decedent, then he is the biological child of the decedent and is entitled to the same rights as any acknowledged biological child.

While it is unlikely that Andy would have been adopted and not aware of the adoption, it is not beyond possibility. To prove adoption, Andy would need to demonstrate that the decedent formally adopted him prior to his death.

The second question is important, because if the decedent died intestate, and Andy was his biological child, then Andy is entitled to a portion of the man’s estate under New Jersey’s intestacy laws. Depending upon who else survived the decedent (e.g., spouse or other children) Andy might be a primary or sole heir.

Things can get a little more complicated if the decedent left a will. It is possible that although Andy did not know who his father was, the father was in fact aware of Andy. In that event, the father may have provided for Andy in a will or expressly named Andy, but decided to leave him a nominal gift of $1.00 or less. If Andy was completely omitted from the will, and can prove parentage, then he may be entitled to an inheritance under New Jersey’s Omitted Children law (NJSA 3B:5-16).

Establishing parentage for purposes of intestate succession is a complex and hazard-fraught process. That’s why anyone pursuing or defending a parentage claim should consult with a qualified New Jersey estate planning attorney. To discuss your estate plan with Alec Borenstein Esq., contact him by email at or call 908-236-6457 today. Alec is proud to serve clients in Hunterdon and Union Counties.

New York Times publishes “The Lonely Death of George Bell”

george bell, estate planning, dying alone, new jersey, union county, hunterdon county, estate planning

New York Times publishes “The Lonely Death of George Bell”

George Bell lived alone, died alone, and his body was discovered alone.

A small, but significant number of people die each year without family or friends to mourn them.

What happens to the remains of those who die alone? What happens to their things? Most importantly, what happens to the life-story of men and women who die alone?

The New York Times article titled “The Lonely Death of George Bell” written by N. R. Kleinfield seeks to answer those questions and more.  Click here to read the article!

Click here to learn reader’s reactions to the original article!

Looking a Gift-Horse in the Mouth: Renouncing a Bequest

gift horse, wills and trusts, renunciation, bequests, hunterdon county, union county, new jersey

Looking a Gift-Horse in the Mouth: Renouncing a Bequest

Why would anyone lucky enough to be a beneficiary under a will decide to reject the gift being left to them? The law calls this type of rejection a “disclaimer” or “renunciation”—and it’s a very important estate planning tool to consider whether you are administering or are the beneficiary of an estate.

First, let’s consider why someone would renounce a gift. For some people, it is simply a personal preference—for one reason or another, they do not want to benefit from the estate of the decedent. Far more common though, are situations where the intended beneficiary has substantial financial obligations, or is in a position where any inherited property would be at great risk.

For example, imagine your great-aunt named you as a beneficiary in her will and then she unfortunately passed away right on the same day you learned that a collection agency is hounding you for tens of thousands of dollars. In a situation like this, you might expect to be bankrupt within a couple of months. If you accept the bequest from your great-aunt, all or a portion of it may be consumed by your creditors. That’s probably not what your great-aunt would have wanted, so you can renounce the gift, have it go back to the estate and then be paid out to the other beneficiaries.

Most bequests can be renounced, assuming the following criteria are met. The renunciation must:

• Be formally made in writing to the executor or administrator

• Identify exactly what property is being disclaimed (for real estate, you must also identify the municipality, block, lot and precise interest of the beneficiary)

• Be made within a specific time period (See N.J.S.A. 3B:9-4.2)

There are some situations where renunciation is not available. The most common situation is one where the beneficiary has already acted in some way to “encumber” the bequest.

For example, if you borrowed money from someone and the loan was made based on the fact that you were expecting to receive a bequest from your great-aunt (which would be used to pay back the loan), you cannot then renounce the bequest. You are barred by statute and common law from renouncing because doing so would be inequitable to the lender.

Sometimes the beneficiaries of an estate are asked to “waive” their rights to renounce (aka disclaim) bequests. When this happens, the beneficiaries are asked to sign a formal written document that bars them from exercising the right to disclaim in the future. This is common when real property in the estate has been left to multiple beneficiaries or if the beneficiaries are attempting to obtain financing based in whole or in part on an expected inheritance.

One important final issue to consider is the tax consequences of accepting or renouncing a bequest. In some instances, the IRS will not honor a renunciation, and thus it is important to obtain the advice of a qualified estate or tax attorney prior to making any decisions about renunciation. For experienced counsel on estate planning in Hunterdon or Union Counties, New Jersey, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., by email at or call 908-236-6457 today.

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