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Family dispute over Whitney Houston inheritance

Whitney Houston fans in Florida may have been following news stories regarding who will get the $20 million inheritance from her estate that passed to her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who later died at the age of 21. A trust had been set up for Bobbi, and she received 10 percent of it upon turning 21. She would have received another 15 percent at age 25 and the remainder of it at age 30.

According to reports, the family is fighting over who gets the inheritance because Bobbi Kristina did not leave a will. When this is the case, the state usually decides how the deceased person's estate is divided. The inheritance represents an ongoing source of income because it also includes Houston's royalties. At least one report says the family of Bobby Brown, father of Bobbi and ex-husband of Houston, is trying to claim the inheritance.

Houston did not update her will, which she wrote in 2007, after divorcing Bobby Brown, and so he is still named as a beneficiary in the event that no children survive her. According to the will, her estate is to be divided equally between her parents, her brothers and Brown with her jewelry going to her mother.

A case like this demonstrates the dangers both in not having a will and in failing to keep an updated estate plan. Younger people like Bobbi Kristina may think they have no need for a will even though they may have significant assets. However, every adult may need to make an estate plan, and that plan should be reviewed and updated regularly by their attorney because people's lives and families change significantly due to death, divorce, births and marriage. In many cases, a will that is more than a few years old is unlikely to reflect the current family situation.

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