Friday, September 30, 2011

Vampire Legal Issues: Maybe Mystic Falls Just Doesn't Have CPS


Last time I forgot that Jeremy and Elena also each own one half of their father’s office building.  Add that to the balance sheet!  

THING ONE: I cannot state this strongly enough: ALARIC IS NO ONE’S GUARDIAN.

Underline!  Boldface!  Italics!  Flashing lights!  Emotionally, I agree that it makes sense for Alaric to be Jeremy and Elena’s parent figure.  They’ve lost so many relatives, and Alaric knows about the supernatural world they inhabit.  He’s obviously got issues [Naughty Alaric], but he’s still the best option they’ve got.  However, being guardian to a child is a legal role, and except in the case of the child’s parents, it requires court authorization.

[The following citations are all to Virginia law; the other states with which I am familiar are all substantially similar.]

First of all, Elena has turned 18 and doesn’t need a guardian.  She is legally an adult.  Even if Elena were not an adult, Alaric would not be her guardian because he has no legal relationship to her.  Isobel was probably not legally Elena’s mother at any point, because she was not listed on the birth certificate.  A woman who gives birth to a child is legally presumed to be the child’s mother. [cite]  How do we know who gave birth to a child?  Well, for starters, she’ll be listed on the birth certificate.  Therefore, there is a legal presumption that Miranda Gilbert was Elena’s biological mother.  Elena is essentially adopted, except that there were never any adoption proceedings.  She is not legally an adopted child.  Is this shady?  Absolutely.  But you’re going to be hard-pressed to convince a judge to run a DNA test at this point.

Furthermore, even if Isobel were Elena’s legal mother and had never given her up for adoption, Alaric would not be Elena’s presumptive guardian unless he had adopted her or was named her guardian in Isobel’s will. [cite; cite; see also definition of child.]

Jeremy- well, how old is he?  Sixteen or seventeen?  Jeremy still needs a guardian, and he can request that Alaric be appointed his guardian.  However, that appointment must go through a court first. [cite]  I don’t know how likely a court would be to appoint Alaric; Jeremy’s wishes would be considered but they are not controlling.

Now, all of this is probably academic; if no one notifies the appropriate authorities that the Gilberts are living on their own, the courts probably won’t step in. Jeremy will turn 18 soon, and we can pretend that Jeremy and Elena will get control of their inheritance at 18, though that’s unusual.  Anyway, point is: ALARIC ISN’T THEIR LEGAL GUARDIAN.

THING TWO: This is my regularly scheduled inquiry about house ownership and invites.  BEEEEEEEP.

Kate and I watched the season premiere together, and when Damon walked into the house in Tennessee where Stefan killed those girls, we had the following conversation:
Me: But how did Damon get in there?  Didn’t someone inherit the house?Kate: You ruin EVERYTHING.                  
And then again, watching “The End of the Affair:”
Me: I feel like I have the same problems every week.Kate: Like the part where you’re insane?     Me: ...that could be one of them.                                                                                                                                                                                                    
I really have nothing to say that I haven’t said before.  So, to recap:  HOW DID DAMON GET IN THERE?  DOES NO ONE INHERIT HOUSES ON THIS SHOW MY GOD.  Maybe we are pretending that everyone dies intestate?  And if you die intestate, is the house in some sort of limbo, like when it’s a bank-owned foreclosure?  How do vampires pay their property taxes?  Do they compel the appropriate authorities to remove their residences from the tax rolls?  If Stefan has been keeping his Chicago apartment for the last 90 years, has he checked in on it?  If he comes back to find squatters, does he just eat them?  Does Stefan own that apartment, or rent it?  Does he pay fees to a homeowners’ association?  Will he lose his security deposit when they find the list of victims he left on the wall?

This has been my regularly scheduled inquiry.


THING THREE: Kids with assets.

If the Gilberts’ estate was planned the way I think it was, Jeremy and Elena are probably fine for money.  My estate planning professor said that parents of dependant children should have a life insurance policy 20 times their annual income, so that if the payout only got 5% returns, the family would still be getting the deceased parent’s income.  If the Gilberts did that, then Jeremy and Elena should have enough money to pay the mortgage, their presumably immense property tax bills, and for other stuff like food and utilities and new clothes.  I’m sure Jeremy isn’t working to put food on the table.

I’d really love to know about the Lockwood estate, too; does Mrs. Lockwood own the house now, or is it in trust for Tyler?  I’d guess that it goes to Tyler - Mystic Falls seems to enjoy male primogeniture - but maybe Mrs. Lockwood has a life estate.  

(You don’t think about imaginary people’s estate plans?  WEIRD.)  

THING FOUR: Who loves the 18th Amendment?  No?  Mostly the 21st?  Yes, Alaric, I know where you stand on that one.

In honor of this week’s awesome 1920s speakeasy flashbacks, here’s a friendly reminder that the newest Ken Burns documentary, Prohibition, starts this Sunday on PBS.  Check your local listings and keep an eye out for Stefan!

Peace out,


PS - Have any of you ever driven through Virginia and Tennessee?  I have, and I can tell you from personal experience that it takes a long time.  In “Rose,” the props department conveniently labeled Mystic Falls on the map, and it’s supposedly a bit southwest of Charlottesville.  (Yes, I looked it up.  I have a lot of spare time.  Shut up.)  Getting to any part of Tennessee from Charlottesville will take at least three hours (and it will feel like an eternity).  The gang is bouncing back and forth like they’re going to Starbucks.

PPS - Do we know how old Klaus is?  I suppose what’s important is that he’s clearly old enough to know what an arms race is.  Build an army so big no one will challenge it.  HA.  Nice plan, doofus.  At least now we know he has an enemy in mind.

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