As many Floridians know, being rich and famous isn't a guarantee that estate planning will be painless. In fact, a will, or the lack of one, has made for gossip fodder for more than one celebrity. In reality, any person with a reasonable amount of assets needs to consider estate planning.
Many people remember Leona Helmsley by her less than charitable title "Queen of Mean." Her estate planning extended to her dog, Trouble. In fact, she left $12 million in trust for the care of Trouble, while excluding two of her grandchildren. In the end, a judge gave Trouble a reduced settlement of $2 million and $6 million to the disinherited grandchildren. An example of a more generous nature is the estate of Sammy Davis, Jr. His will left generous gifts to many people, but poor planning left his estate with a tax debt that far exceeded assets.
The rich and young need to think ahead as well. Football player Steve McNair is a prime example of of how complicated it is for the family when the main breadwinner dies without a will. He left behind a wife, children, and a mother who depended on him for support. His mother was forced to move out of the house he provided for her. In addition, his estate was saddled with a large tax bill. Marilyn Monroe did leave a will, but her failure to put it into a trust caused many of her possessions and her name to benefit people she never knew. Jim Morrison left a similar situation. His estate was left to his girlfriend, and when she died, it went Morrison's in-laws.
Estate planning is important for everyone who wants their family and friends to inherit seamlessly and with little expense. A probate attorney may be helpful in this process by offering suggestions for trusts, wills and the correct process for transferring real property.
Source: Fox Business, "Monumental Estate Planning Blunders of 5 Celebrities", June 06, 2013