When we see celebrities in the news, it is for a variety of reasons. Achievements, awards, new projects, family moments, and the list goes on. While learning more about our favorite celebrities can be fun and diverting, unfortunately, we also read about them when tragedy or death befalls them as well.
Recently, Chadwick Boseman has made the news, not only with the revelation that he filmed the popular Black Panther and Avengers movies while battling stage 4 cancer, but when he lost his life to cancer questions arose surrounding his estate plan. Did he have one? Was his family protected? As a relatively young man with a busy career, he might not have taken the steps he would have taken later in life to secure his estate. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans still do not have an estate plan, and many believe it is something to do only later in life.
According to the news, Mr. Boseman passed away “intestate” or without a will. As a result, his family had to follow the laws outlined by the state of California. His wife and his parents were to evenly split his estate because he did not have a plan in place saying otherwise. Mr. Boseman is also not out of line with other recent, tragic losses of celebrities and the lack of critical planning.
When Prince passed away, he did not have an estate plan in place that governed his assets and how he wanted those around him to inherit. It is still reported now, years later, that the fighting continues. By contrast, Aretha Franklin was reported to have over four wills. However, not a single one of them were properly executed or completed. As a result, her estate has lingered over four years and now the IRS must be paid millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.
Even the best estate plan can still be challenged. This makes proactive estate planning with an experienced estate planning attorney critical. As a lesson, let’s not forget that when Robin Williams passed away he had a strong estate plan but, according to reports, his family still engaged in a five year legal battle over the assets within it.
What estate planning lessons can we learn from these celebrities? What can they teach us to protect ourselves and those around us? What about our desire, like theirs, to leave a legacy not just within our own family but in our community? Let us share a few key lessons we should take away from this conversation:
• Everyone needs an estate plan to ensure their family is protected
• Without a trust in place, unprotected assets may be subject to the probate process
• The probate process is public and can be both costly and time consuming
• Uncertainty in our estate planning can lead to further heartbreak for loved ones
• Without health care planning in place, there may be no one to make critical decisions in a crisis
• Without a decision maker with legal authority, our family may have to go to court to obtain a guardian or legal advocate
• We cannot create a legacy for our future goals, or a plan that will outlive us, without a thoughtful estate plan in place
• Our wealth may be wasted without a trusted fiduciary in place to manage it
• We may pay much more in taxes without the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney
• If we have assets in multiple states, we will need a trust to harness them and manage them
• Reduce the potential for fighting between family members
• A crisis can happen at any time, and we need to plan forward now while we are able to make decisions about what we want for the future
There is much celebrity estate planning can teach us. The key is to learn and plan forward. We know you may have questions. Our firm is here to answer them and assist you in creating an estate plan that will reach your goals.
Our estate planning law firm takes a very different approach from what you might have come to expect. Our goal is to create lifelong relationships with each of our clients, to guide and manage your legacy for the rest of your life. Please contact our offices in Stuart and in Palm City to learn more.