Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Most Common Estate Planning Mistakes Made By Celebrities

Hollywood SignHere are the most common mistakes that celebrities make when making or not making their estate planning documents.

  • Even with the vast amount of wealth that some celebrities own, it might come as a surprise that some celebrities do not have a will. A will is the basic estate planning document. Without a will, the state will determine where a person's property goes after that person dies. For example, Amy Winehouse died without a will and so her parents inherited all of her assets pursuant to the intestacy laws. It does not matter whether she may have wanted the property to go to someone else. Without a will, the court would have never known of her intentions otherwise.
  • Celebrities and some people might want to consider drafting a trust if that person wants to keep their affairs private. A will and a trust are similar in that a person drafts them to provide instruction on how his or her property should be distributed following his or her death. The difference between the two documents is that a trust is a private document and does not have to introduced in a probate court to be made valid. A will for the most part has to be probated; thus, made a public document that is accessible to the public at large. If a person wants to keep their affairs private a trust is a more suitable estate planning document.
  • Even though some celebrities do take the time to create an estate plan, some probably forget that it is important to regularly update their estate planning documents. A person might want to consider updating their estate planning documents following a major life event to make sure that his or her documents reflect that person's current wishes.
  • Finally, many celebrities and everyday people forget how important it is to plan for incapacity or disability. Therefore, a person might want to consider drafting a durable power-of-attorney and an advance directive. The durable power-of-attorney will allow the drafter to name someone to manage his or her property and finances following his or her incapacity. An advance directive allows the drafter to name someone who will make medical decisions if that person is no longer able to make those decisions.

See Danielle & Andrew Mayoras, Celebrities' 4 Estate-Planning Mistakes - and What They Can Teach You, nextavenue.org, Aug. 13, 2012.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

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