50 - January 2011
This month we celebrate our 50th edition probably by having an early night.
The Perfect crime
Anyone who has seen The Wire will know the day to day difficulties of dealing in drugs. Once, I was instructed by a client who was arrested for selling heroin just four days after he arrived in the country. There was cast iron evidence of him selling drugs to two undercover policemen. The police had achieved a result which could usually take a whole season or at least 2 episodes of The Wire.
This was part of a police operation in a drug hotspot. The police had set up cameras in strategic places to record the drug sales.
My client told me that he had been brought from Nigeria to sell heroin. If true, the local criminals had “outsourced” the solution to the police crackdown by importing my client and others like him to carry the can; thus allowing the local criminals to get on with their other felonious little plans.
The police rather than feeling suckered seemed delighted by the guilty pleas and prison sentences resulting from the strong evidence.
Police and other regulators, if left to their own devices, tend to choose the “low hanging fruit” to quickly produce statistics and avoid anything too hard e.g. shoplifting rather than fraud, speed cameras rather than anti-social behaviour. Often it depends on the strength of evidence or if the suspect admits to the offence.
So, when you are being investigated e.g. turning right at a no right turn, admitting your guilt is more likely to result in a prosecution rather than you being let off. This may not apply if you are an attractive, possibly tearful, young thing but if you too inhabit the world of the bald-headed, overweight and middle aged as we lawyers do, then certainly it is best to follow the advice of Ronan Keating and say nothing at all.
(c) Paul Brennan is a business and property lawyer on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Both "Deals and disputes".
Intestacy - the dead end
My elderly cousin is dying and it looks as if I am the closest relative. He will not make a will as he hates lawyers-he used to be married to one. But he says that he wants me to inherit. He is worth a few bob and his property is in various states and countries.
Clearly, your cousin has been traumatised by his choice of spouse. This is not uncommon.
There is a certain pecking order where the deceased does not leave a will. It starts off with spouses and children, then often parents, brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews and finally government coffers. But, it is a list, like a shopping list and if you are not on the list however deserving your claim may be in your view, you lose out.
What happens if you are illegitimate? Whereas illegitimate children are usually quite acceptable these days, illegitimate cousins are unlikely to make the list.
Some countries or states may not recognize the right of a cousin to be in the pecking order, at all. This could mean that you would not inherit property located in that state or country.
Therefore, it is important that you research where the assets are located and encourage your cousin to sell any inconveniently located assets. Your lawyer can help you with this paperwork.
It may be necessary to relocate your cousin to a more convenient jurisdiction which fully recognises your claim. If he is awkward and dying rich relatives can often be particularly miserable, it is best to leave the transfer to the last minute in order to minimise any unpleasant scenes.
What happens if he dies in transit? Well, it depends if anybody notices.
John Fytit is the name of the central cartoon charter in Law & Disorder cartoons which started in Hong Kong in 1992. He is from the fictitious Hong Kong firm Fytit & Loos (pronounced “Fight it and Lose”). A very unsuccessful name as people read “Fytit” as “Fit it”. The International Problem Page started in 2005 and was merged into Paul Brennan’s blog. But, not before John Fytit started to receive real legal questions from various parts of the world.
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