Celebrity will and estate mistakes to avoid

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2018 | Probate Litigation

Even celebrities make estate planning mistakes, but there is something you can learn from them. By not making plans for your estate or not making the right plans, you could end up making your family go through probate or see your assets depleted by taxes.

You’d think that celebrities would have all their finances in order, but that’s not always the case. Many die unexpectedly or younger than they thought they would, leaving behind a legacy but also a lack of financial planning.

What are some of the mistakes celebrities have made with their estate plans?

  • Jimi Hendrix starts the list. He died at age 27 with no will. His father received all his assets, but his brother received nothing. The brother was later cut out of the father’s will, meaning that he received nothing of the $80 million legacy.
  • Heath Ledger’s death was a shock to many, but the trouble for his estate was a lack of updates. He died at 28 years old, and he did have a will. Unfortunately, it was written before his relationship with Michelle Williams and several years before the birth of their daughter. The will left Ledger’s assets to his sister and parents but did not go directly to his girlfriend or daughter.
  • Leona Helmsley died in 2007 and left behind an estate word around $17 million. She left $12 million of that money to her dog and $5 million to charity. She cut two grandchildren out of her will and left two in. The two left out were able to take the case to court to challenge the will and obtained $6 million to share among themselves. The dog received $2 million in a trust. Their argument was that the woman was not mentally fit to create the will and trust. Without a medical exam, the court had to agree with them based on the evidence they provided.

These are just three examples of celebrities who ended up with their assets left to people they may have not wanted receiving them. In some cases, simple updates or a basic will would have completely changed the circumstances.

If you are older and starting a will, make sure you get a mental exam to guarantee competency. If you’re young, start your will early and update it with every major life event, so those whom you want to benefit from your assets can do so in the future.


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