Celebrities across the world have entertained us in more ways than one.
We have seen tragedies both in life and in death among our favorite celebrities, but there are a few tragedies that go past death, leaving their families trying to grapple with both physical and monetary losses. We are referring to estate planning mistakes that take a lot of money to fix.
Many celebrities have left errors in their will, or failed to come up with a will, given their trust to crooks, or died when they never saw the door of an estate planning attorney’s office. According to a survey by Edward Jones, many people are aware of the need for an estate plan, but only a few go ahead to implement one.
Let us look at a few celebrities that made such mistakes.
Prince – Never Had a Will
Shortly after his demise in 2016, news came about that the singer never left a will for the family to use to handle the vast estate. Estimated to be in excess of $200 million, a Minnesota judge was forced to distribute the assets among his siblings.
A problem arose when an inmate in a federal prison claimed to be a son to the deceased, who made the process delay for close to two years.
Takeaway: Failure to draft a will leaves your loved ones in a mess, which means that a total stranger will have to decide who gets what. Even if the court ends up dividing the estate as expected, this will take years and millions in lawyer fees, which depletes your estate much faster than if you had a will.
Barry White – Failure to Update the Will
When the singer passed away in 2013, he had separated from the second wife but wasn’t officially divorced. The second wife received all his assets, and his live-in girlfriend received nothing. Lawsuits were filed by the girlfriend and his children.
Takeaway: when you get divorced, make sure you finalize the proceedings in front of a judge. If you don’t do this, you are considered still legally married.
If you are dating a divorcee, make sure they followed the right proceedings to transfer the assets to you. An estate planning lawyer can help you determine this, and help plan for your estate.
You also need to make sure you update your estate plan the moment you separate with your spouse. It is understandable if you will wish to put this off for a few weeks, but a few months might end up becoming years if you don’t watch out.
Heath Ledger – Failing to Add Beneficiaries to Your Plan
Heath Ledger died at 28 years in 2008, leaving behind a daughter aged 2 years. Yes he left a will, but the only problem is that he only listed his mother and siblings as his beneficiaries, leaving out the daughter and girlfriend.
However, the family was understanding and left everything to the daughter.
Takeaway: you need to learn from the different happenings in your life to update your estate to reflect your current state. Change the beneficiaries accordingly and account for any future changes.
Florence Griffith-Joyner – Missing Will
Of what use is an estate plan when beneficiaries can’t access it? Even if you have a detailed estate plan and yet the administrator of the estate cannot get his hands on it, it is useless. It is akin to not having any plan at all.
Florence’s family believed that she had drafted a will when she passed away in 1998, only to find that the document couldn’t be found. Was it that she had a soft copy stored on a hard drive somewhere or did she misplace it?
This situation led to several years of legal battles that gobbled up a huge part of the estate in lawyer fees, with the mother and the husband failing to agree on how to handle the estate.
Takeaway: when you work with an estate planning lawyer, you are sure that he has stored a copy of the will on file. However, you need to also have a copy of the will stored in a safe place, accessible to your loved ones when the time comes. However, make sure that only trusted people have access to the will, especially your lawyer or a trusted family member.
These examples go ahead to tell you that even celebrities make these estate planning mistakes. This doesn’t mean that you stop planning your estate, but gives you a few pointers that you can learn from to come up with a better estate plan than what you have at the moment. Your lawyer can take charge of the process and make things work for you.