Haimo Law - Wills, Trusts, Probate, Business Planning and Asset Protection

Biggest Celebrity Estate Planning Failures

By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
May 23, 2019

Last Will and Testament concept image

Biggest Celebrity Estate Planning Failures

Fame and fortune may insulate celebrities from many daily struggles everyday people face. But just like you and me, without proper guidance they are subject to the very same pitfalls of estate planning as us.

That’s why, today, we’re going to take a peek into estate mistakes the rich and famous make. They should be important lessons for all.

Misguided Mistrust

Prince left this planet three years ago. What he did not leave was a will, and his estate has made little headway through probate over that entire time. However, the lack of a will wasn’t an oversight. Previous legal battles left Prince with zero trust in legal professionals, so he simply opted not to draw one up.

Some have described the court battles currently in development among his heirs as disaster in action – one battle of which is who, for certain, his rightful heirs actually are.

In our professional opinion, general distrust isn’t reason enough to forego protecting a legacy you work your whole life to build.

No Trust At All


Lou Reed did draw up a last will and testament, but given his private nature, it’s unlikely he would have wanted to take his private matters public in this way. Seems like he didn’t get very good advice.

Moreover, even though he bequest his fortune to his wife and sister, a will has to go through probate – something that tends to be incredibly time-consuming.

Even modest estates can benefit from funding a trust during a person’s lifetime. How so? They work to prevent family feuds, protect assets for blended family members, and decrease the time it takes to carry out a person’s last wishes.

Fiduciary Failings

Jerry Garcia named his third wife fiduciary of his estate. As one-third beneficiary herself, requiring her to look out for the interests of all the other important women in his life is quite a lot to ask of someone so emotionally and financially invested in the outcome.

Don’t make the same mistake. Select executors with little or no vested interest who are diplomatic, fair, and comfortable level working with the legal and financial professionals involved. This will ensure your loved ones are properly taken care of.  

Beneficiary Blunders

On the flip side, Jim Morrison was over-simplistic, and that cost his siblings everything.

His two-page will essentially bequest everything to girlfriend Pamela Courson. If she didn’t survive him, he wanted everything equally divided between his brother and sister – nothing to his parents. Unfortunately, Morrison couldn’t anticipate Pamela’s fate, and what the will did not account for was her death so soon after his own.

Worth tens of millions of dollars at that point, his estate passed to Courson’s parents, and was eventually split between hers and Morrison’s surviving parents – with nothing to Jim’s sister and brother as he’d wished. A simple trust would have ensured his desired beneficiaries had ultimately inherited his estate.

When someone dies and there is money for the taking, it doesn’t take much to trigger disputes that can turn family and friends into enemies. Take a look at your own estate plans, and take these magnified lessons to heart.  

Author:
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Haimo Law
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
Email: barry@haimolaw.com 
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