Everyone knows there are two things in this life that you can be sure of – Death and Taxes – even if you are a rich and famous celebrity. Over the nearly 30 years of being in practice I have witnessed countless horror stories of families fighting over the estate of the deceased, people stuck with millions due in taxes, and loved ones being left out of the will or trust. Many of the rich and famous – the most recent of which being Aretha Franklin – have had their estate planning failures go public. This gives us an opportunity to learn from their mistakes. In this article we’ll look at the cases of some famous people who have had their outdated wills and improper estate planning become public so we can learn from their mistakes.
Is Your Will Outdated? Paul Walker’s Story
It is advisable to update one’s wills and trusts after every major life changing event. This means revising your will after things such as divorces or marriages, the birth of a child, or an accumulation of a large sum of money. As we learned from Paul Walker’s passing, an outdated will can have a massive effect on your family. Paul Walker, star of “The Fast and the Furious” movie franchise, made his will in 2001, the same year the first “Fast and the Furious” movie debuted. He died in 2014 in a tragic car crash, and a lot of things had changed in his life since the writing of his will. Because his will was not up-to-date, his teenage daughter was left out. If he would have kept his will up to date, then he would have had a chance to leave some of his estate to his daughter without the legal complications and fees she and her family experienced.
Has Your Estate Planning Been Properly Done? Lesson from James Gandolfini
Proper estate planning can save you and your family money and stress. Unfortunately James Gandolfini, known for his role in “The Sopranos” was not as thorough with his estate planning as he could have been. Gandolfini’s will provided for his wife, daughter, and two sisters. However, he did not plan for taxes properly. Gandolfini’s estate ended up having to pay both federal and state estate taxes at 55%. Another well known celebrity suffered from the same mistakes. Academy Award Winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was adamant about not turning his children into “Trust-Fund Kids”. Because of that, he ended up leaving everything to his children’s mother without any tax planning. By doing this his estate was subject to a massive estate tax bill. If he were to have met with an estate planning attorney, they would have found a way to achieve both his goal of not having “Trust-Fund Kids” and not losing so much money unnecessarily to taxes. If you want to familiarize yourself with estate taxes and need help planning your will and trust, visit The Law Offices of Joel A Harris for help. You’ll find all the resources you need to plan for the future.
Not Having a Will Can Cost a Lot – The Stories of Prince and Aretha Franklin
If you were to die without having a will you will have died “intestate,” which means the state will dictate how your assets will be distributed. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Both Aretha Franklin and Prince, the singer most known for “Purple Rain” died without a will. In Prince’s case he did not have any known children so there were no obvious heirs to his estate. 45 people had tried to claim some part of his estate by saying they are his proper heirs! For the state to find rightful heirs and then divide his estate cost Prince’s estate a huge amount of legal fees. In Aretha Franklin’s case, as of this writing five different people have filed papers with the court listing themselves as “interested parties” wishing access to her estate. The question of what happens to her sizable estate remains murky.
Are You Worried about Your Estate After Your Passing?
If you are not properly prepared with a well-planned living trust, then your family could be vulnerable to higher tax bills, extensive legal fees, and familial conflicts. To avoid those obstacles you should visit an Estate Planning Attorney to get professional help, and create a plan that well suits your goals.
At The Law Offices of Joel A Harris located in Antioch, California, we have worked for over 25 years giving the best guidance our clients need to protect their assets. Have a question about your planning your estate? Feel free to schedule a sit-down meeting where we are happy to patiently answer every question you may have. For your free consultation reach out to us at (925) 757-4605.