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Friday, December 15, 2017

Celebrity Estate Planning Fails

How can I make a foolproof estate plan?

Many of us would assume that most celebrities have comprehensive estate plans.  After all, wealthy celebrities have access to professional managers and experienced attorneys.  Despite their wealth, at least three mega-celebrities passed away in recent years without an adequate estate plan in place, leaving their loved ones broken hearted and grappling with substantial estate taxes.  Our Tampa Bay estate planning lawyers discuss three celebrity estate planning fails and how you can protect your family assets for the next generation below.  

Prince 

Singer Prince died in 2016 and left behind no will.  With no known children, the court grappled to determine an heir.  More than 45 people came forward claiming to be potential heirs, costing the estate tremendously in legal fees.  Additionally, the executor of the estate has not proven committed or capable, continuing to cause a decrease in the value of the estate.

Michael Jackson 

It has been eight years since pop star Michael Jackson’s death, but his estate remains debated in court today.  Jackson left a will and his business attorney valued the estate at $1 billion.  However, Jackson’s estate executor valued his brand at just $2,105.  This lead to the IRS disputing the value of the assets, with estimates that Jackson’s brand is actually worth $434 million.  The valuation error could lead to a $700 million estate tax bill, demonstrating the immense importance of evaluating assets with a degree of accuracy.

Whitney Houston 

Houston created a will and trust that left her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, as the sole heir.  The funds were to be doled out in installments based on Brown’s age, and contingent heirs were stipulated if Brown were to die.  However, after Brown passed away at the age of 22, leaving behind no will and no spouse or children, problems arose with the estate.  Now Brown’s father, Bobby Brown, stands to potentially inherit the entire estate, causing much dispute between the parties.  Houston’s estate planning fail highlights the importance of planning for conflicts that you can see coming given known relations between family members.
A complete estate plan should include a will, trust, and named executor.  Each of these estate planning tools is central components of a strong estate plan that will fully protect your heirs.  Contact an estate planning lawyer for assistance getting started with your estate plan today. 

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