What Can You Learn from the Biggest Celebrity Estate Mistakes?

It seems like every few months another celebrity is covered in the news with an estate planning mess. With the recent passing of Kobe Bryant, it’s possible that his estate could wind up in a similar situation. Even many people with plenty of reason to consider estate planning end up putting that process off and leaving their family to handle the consequences.

Celebrities throughout recent history have provided plenty of case studies for what not to do with your estate. A couple of examples from the biggest estate blunders:

  • Michael Jackson, who passed away in 2009 but whose estate is still tied up in litigation due to valuation differences from estate executors and the IRS.
  • Prince, whose estate has already racked up 45 million in legal costs before any beneficiary has even received one dollar.
  • Ted Williams, who had confusing instructions about what he wanted done with his body, leaving his head to be removed and cryogenically frozen.
  • James Gandolfini, the actor who played mobster Tony Soprano, took some forward steps with estate planning like using an irrevocable live insurance trust, but failed to follow through all the way prior to his death. This led the estate to pay millions in unnecessary taxes.
  • Barry White, who passed away in 2003 and due to not updating his estate planning documents, left everything to the wife he was separated from rather than his girlfriend, the same woman who was mother to his nine children.

As you can see, there are a lot of ways to go wrong with estate planning. Each situation is different and your estate plan should consider the unique aspects of what you want to accomplish and your family and charitable intentions. If you’d like to carve out time to talk with a qualified estate planning law firm, schedule a meeting with our office today.

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