Ghosts of Estate Planning Past: Learning from Famous Wills and Trusts

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It’s October, so in the spirit of spooky season, I thought I’d share a ghost story. Ok, really lessons we can learn from mistakes made by the rich and famous.

🌟 Estate planning might not be as dazzling as a Hollywood premiere, but listen, even the stars have to think about it. Let’s explore some high-profile wills and trusts and see what they can teach us mortals.

Aretha Franklin: The Case of the Handwritten Wills

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin passed away in 2018, initially thought to have died intestate—that’s lawyer-speak for “without a will.” But then, not one, not two, but THREE handwritten wills were discovered, stuffed in couch cushions no less.

Lesson: Don’t DIY Your Will

Seriously, handwritten wills can be a legal quagmire. Better to go with a pro who’ll make sure everything’s kosher.

Jimi Hendrix: Family Feuds

Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix died without a will, resulting in a decades-long legal battle among family members.

Lesson: No Will Equals Family Chill Kill

If you want family gatherings to remain civil, get a will sorted. Otherwise, it’s decades of courtrooms and lawyer bills. Yikes.

Marilyn Monroe: The Trust That Wasn’t Airtight

Marilyn Monroe left most of her estate to her acting coach Lee Strasberg with the belief he’d distribute her assets among friends and family. Nope, didn’t happen. He left everything to his third wife, whom Marilyn had never met.

Lesson: Be Explicit, Y’all

If you’ve got specific wishes, spell them out. Trusts are great but specify what you want done.

Michael Jackson: The King of Postmortem Litigation

Ah, the King of Pop! You’d think someone who meticulously planned his stage performances would be just as attentive with estate planning, right? Well, kinda. Michael Jackson did have a will and a trust, but his estate went through years of litigation, primarily due to debts and ambiguity over the valuation of his assets.

Lesson: Update, Update, Update!

Life changes, assets change, and yes, debts change. Regularly updating your will and trust can save your family from years of legal toil. Keep those documents as fresh as a newly-released album. 🎵

Walt Disney: A Model of Planning

Walt Disney is an exception among the famous for having a well-thought-out estate plan that included trusts to keep his legacy and business interests alive.

Lesson: Forward Thinking Rocks

A good estate plan can secure your legacy and make life easier for those you leave behind. Take a cue from Walt.

Final Takeaways

  1. Don’t DIY: Get professional help.
  2. Be Explicit: Spell out what you want, in detail.
  3. Think Ahead: Your future self (and your heirs) will thank you.
  4. Update Regularly: Keep your documents in tune with your life.

So there you have it. Don’t be a footnote in the “What Not To Do” chapter of estate planning history.

Learn from the ghosts of the past and get your affairs in order today! ✨ Click on this link to schedule a call to get started on your estate plan today.