18 Oct 6 Top Celebrity Estate Planning Mistakes
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
October 18, 2018
6 Top Celebrity Estate Planning Mistakes
The passing of our favorite celebrity is tragic to fans; the demise is even more hard-hitting to family of the deceased. The worst-case scenario is when said celebrity doesn’t leave his or her affairs in order.
Here is a collection of six of the most infamous mistakes that renowned celebrities made regarding their estate planning.
Having No Estate Plan
Many American adults do not have a will. When you die intestate (without a will), the state dictates the details for how your estate will be administered and for whose benefit. You’d think that all celebrities, with their fame and fortune, would take the time to engage in estate planning.
Big names who recently passed away without a written will include musicians Prince and Aretha Franklin. It’s regrettable that, two years after Prince’s death, his heirs are yet to get any share of his estate. In the meantime, lawyers, bankers, and consultants continue to make millions from his assets that are valued at over 200 million dollars.
Failing to Strike Out Undesirable Beneficiaries
Barry White, a phenomenal singer, died in 2003. At the time, White had been living with a girlfriend and had 9 children!
Here’s the kicker though. All this time, he was separated but not officially divorced from his second wife. So, when Barry died, the second wife took everything whereas his girlfriend and nine kids got nothing.
Not Including Important Beneficiaries
Most of his fans praised Heath Ledger for his incredible acting as the Joker. Sadly, he passed away at age 28 in 2008. He left behind a daughter, Matilda, who was 2 years old at the time.
What’s even more heartrending is that neither Matilda nor her mother were in Heath’s will. So, when he passed on, everything under his estate was meant to be disposed to his parents and siblings. Some states like Florida have statutes enacted to protect spouses and children from subsequent marriages and births. This is nown as pre-termitted spouses and pre-termitted beneficiaries.
Not Revealing Your Estate Plans
Some people put their valuables in hidden places for safekeeping. Unfortunately, sometimes, these hidden places can’t be found even when they need to be.
When Olympic sprinter FloJo (Florence Griffith-Joyner) died in 1998, it was believed that she had a written will, but unfortunately, nobody could find it. Failing to find a will means you don’t have one.
Not Putting Promises Made to Would-Be-Heirs in Writing
When Marlon Brando died in 2004, his longtime housekeeper came forward with strong allegations that Brando had told her she’d inherit his home following his demise. She even took these allegations to court.
The problem, however, was that Marlon Brando hadn’t put his promise to her in writing, so she couldn’t inherit his house.
Failing to Fund Your Estate Trust
We wrap this series up with a mistake by the king of pop himself. Prior to his death in 2009, Michael Jackson had set up a revocable living trust to protect his estate that was worth about 500 million dollars. Smart move, right? However, MJ failed to fund this trust. So, when he died, his entire estate fell outside the trust.
So, there you have it. Estate planning must be thorough and up-to-date to facilitate smooth transfer of assets to your heirs and heiresses. Seeking the help of a Florida estate planning lawyer is highly recommended.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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