Estate planning mistakes. Celebrities don’t make estate planning mistakes, do they? After all, celebrities are famous. Celebrities have access to the best lawyers, financial advisors and managers. But, like us, celebrities are human. Just like us, celebrities sometimes make mistakes with their estate plans.

What’s the rush?

Sometimes a celebrity such as Prince put off estate planning. We often do not want to think about death. We feel that we have forever to live. So, why rush into getting an estate plan done.

But, when we fail to execute a will, then we leave the state in charge of who gets your assets. The state does not care that you may not like a particular relative. So, if you want a say in who will inherit from you, you need to execute a will.

When you do not have a will, the distributions to your heirs may take longer. You may also force your heirs to pay more in taxes. More money paid to takes means less money to inherit.

Even if you are young, if you own a house, have investments, have a spouse or children, you should have a will.

The secret will

Or, maybe you have a will, like Florence Griffith Joyner, “Flo Jo” did. But, like Flo Jo, you hide your will. You do not tell anyone where your will is located. Then guess what happens? You die and your family cannot find your will. And, just like Flo Jo’s family learned, not being able to locate a will is the same as not having a will.

So, make sure you tell someone where your original will is located. A great person to tell is your executor.

A good estate planning attorney will usually keep a copy of your will. You may even wish to give copies of your will to your executor or a trusted family member.

Failure to Update

Or, you have a will but life happens. You have a child or you get divorced. You forget to change your will. You then die and guess what, your ex-spouse gets your assets, not your current spouse. Just ask Barry White’s family. His children from a second marriage received nothing as Barry forgot to update his will! Do not let this happen to you.

Or, how about Heath Ledger. His will left everything to his parents and sister. He then had a daughter but forgot to update his will leaving his assets to her. Guess what, he died and Heath’s will left nothing to his daughter. Lucky for Heath’s daughter, his parents and siblings gave her everything Heath left them in the will. But, do you want to take a chance that your family members will be so generous?

When your life changes, check your will and see if you need to update your estate plan. Or, at least call your estate planning attorney. He or she can advise you as to whether or not you should change your will.

Do It Yourself Will

Write your own will at your own peril. Yes, you can write your own will. But, should you? Just ask Chief Justice Warren Burger’s family.

Warren Burger wrote his own will. A very brief 176 words he typed himself. Unfortunately, due to the brevity of his will, he missed out on tax savings advantages. His heirs ended up paying $450,000.00 in estate taxes! Also, his executors had to go to court to get permission to sell real estate.

You see, that is the danger of the do it yourself will. You do not know everything that a will should contain. Even a chief justice of the United States Supreme Court was not aware of everything he needed. So, talk to an estate planning attorney about writing your will. Yes, you will have to pay for his or her services. But, that fee will potentially save your heirs money and heartache when you die.

Failure to fund trust

Now sometimes a celebrity does create a trust for his heirs. But, like a lot of us, the celebrity forgets to fund the trust. Just ask Michael Jackson’s heirs.

Michael Jackson did the right thing. He met with an estate planning attorney. His attorney created a trust for his $600,000,000 estate. Good job!

However, Michael never funded the trust. You see, think of a trust as a storage unit. Until you put property into the trust, the trust is just a shell – a blank unit. If you never put money or property into the trust, the trust is essentially useless. You spent a lot of money for a beautiful seventy page document.

By not funding his trust, Michael’s heirs have been fighting over his assets. His heirs have spent lots of money filing lawsuits. Do not let this happen to you. If you create a trust, please transfer assets into the trust during your lifetime. At the very least, leave everything to the trust in your will. Your beneficiaries will thank you. Trust me.

Don’t make these mistakes

Yes, celebrities are human and make mistakes just like us. However, we can avoid making the same mistakes these celebrities made. Follow these principals outlines in this article:

  • Execute a will;
  • Beware of do it yourself wills;
  • Do not hide your will;
  • Fund your trust;
  • When life changes, update your will.

To learn more: https://nclegalcounsel.com/practice-areas/estate-planning

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