Good and Bad Estate Planning Lessons from Celebrities

Bad estate planning by celebrities can teach us important life lessons

Do you, like many people, enjoy watching or listening to news about your favorite celebrities, including their achievements, awards, family news and more? We all feel tremendous loss when we read about our favorite celebrities passing away.  However, we can learn from celebrities about what to do and not do when it comes to estate planning and the impact of poor or no estate planning on grieving families. In other words, good and bad estate planning.

For example, Chadwick Boseman, who starred as the Black Panther in the highly successful film of the same name and in the Avenger movies, passed away from cancer.  Unfortunately, when he passed away, he did not have an estate plan. And, like Mr. Boseman, the majority of Americans still do not have an estate plan, and many believe it is something to do only later in life which is bad estate planning. According to the news, Mr. Boseman passed away “intestate” or without a will, so his family had o follow the laws outlined by the state he passed away in.

Now, by having a good estate plan, everyone will know how you want your assets to be distributed, your legacy may continue, and you can minimize the chances of disputes among family members concerning the distribution of your estate. Sadly, when Prince passed away, he did not have an estate plan in place to govern distribution of his assets. Even now, it is still reported that years later the fighting continues.

By contrast, Aretha Franklin did create an estate plan, though, she was reported to have over four wills. The really bad news about these four wills?  Not a single one of them was 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.

It is important to be aware that even the best estate plan can be challenged. We highly recommend that you work with a qualified Florida estate planning attorney when you create your Florida estate plan. 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.

So, what estate planning lessons can we learn from these celebrities? 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? We would like to share a few good and bad estate planning tips with you right now:

  • A good tip is to be sure your family is protected by having an estate plan in place
  • A bad tip is not having a trust in place whereby your unprotected assets may be subject to the probate process
  • A good tip, remember the probate process is public and can be both costly and time consuming
  • A bad tip is to not be aware that there is uncertainty in your estate planning which could lead to further heartbreak for your loved ones
  • A good tip is to have health care planning in place so a person of your choosing may be able to make critical decisions for you in a crisis
  • A bad tip is to not have a decision maker with legal authority which may then have your family going to court to obtain a guardian or legal advocate
  • A good tip is that with a thoughtful estate plan in place, you can create a legacy for your future goals, and a plan that will outlive you
  • A bad tip is to not have a trusted fiduciary in place to manage your wealth causing it to be wasted
  • A good tip is to have the guidance of an experienced Florida estate planning attorney who may help you pay much less in taxes
  • A bad tip is to not create a trust that could help manage the assets you have in multiple states
  • A good tip is to reduce the potential for fighting between family members with a Florida estate plan
  • The most important tip, be aware that a crisis can happen at any time, and you need to plan forward now, while you are able to make decisions about what you want for the future

As you can see, there is much to learn from celebrity estate planning. The key is to learn and plan forward. 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.

Main Menu