By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
February 13, 2018
Sports Reporter Craig Sager Causes Dramatic Feud for His Blended Family
“Nothing like getting served, pestered by Sherrifs & taken to court over a Will that myself and my sisters are not only 100% excluded from but do not even have any interest in contesting in the first place. Thanks Dad ?”
— Craig Sager II (@CraigSagerJr), Twitter, January 2, 2018
Estate planning for blended families requires special care and communication. If you need any evidence of that, look no further than the story of Craig Sager.
When the beloved sports announcer passed away in 2016 after a battle with cancer, it was discovered that he left the three children from his first marriage (Craig II, Kacy, and Krista) out of his will entirely.
Then Craig’s second wife, Stacey, sued those three children to ensure they don’t contest the Will – even though they apparently had no plans to do so in the first place, as Kacy stated in a January tweet.
“The point was that WE NEVER WANTED A DIME. WE NEVER WANTED TO CONTEST THE WILL. We made that clear, and she still sent sheriffs to our doors to drag us to court,” Kacy posted on Twitter on January 3, 2018.
It also came out that one of the children who was disinherited, Craig Sager II, had helped prolong his father’s life with two bone marrow transplants.
The entire drama is playing out in public, on Twitter, and in news reports for everyone to see. And it likely could have been avoided entirely with proper and thoughtful estate planning.
Don’t leave behind surprises.
Surprises increase the chances that litigation will result, dragging on the probate process much longer for loved ones.
The children of Craig’s first marriage were surprised to learn that they were not included in the Will. As you can imagine, this likely led to anger and hurt feelings. Or at least his second wife worried that it would, which led her to preemptively sue her husband’s children, causing even more drama and emotional turmoil.
By talking to your family members about your plans in advance, you get the chance to explain your reasoning, rather than leaving them wondering and upset.
Sager may have felt he had specific and valid reasons for disinheriting the children from his first marriage, but they will never know them.
Consider a trust.
Since a Last Will and Testament must go through probate, it is open to the public. If Sager wished to keep the process secret, he could have left everything to his trust instead.
Then he could have disinherited the children from his first marriage without subjecting everyone to public scrutiny. It’s possible that the disinheritance would never have become public knowledge at all, preventing needless stress at a difficult time.
Get Estate Planning in Order If You Want to Help Your Blended Family
You should always revisit your estate plan after any major life change, such as a second marriage. And you should communicate with all loved ones in your blended family about any significant changes you make to the plan.
This doesn’t mean you have to share all the little details, but do let them know what to expect generally. At Haimo Law, we can help you communicate with your loved ones in a clear and respectful manner and ensure they have all the information necessary to make things go smoothly after you pass away.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose
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