You would think with all the wealth accumulated that the rich and famous would be sure their estates are protected when they die. That is not always true. Some of the richest people have passed on without a will or trust made and others have made mistakes that have brought on years of court battles. Here are three high-profile celebrities that had probate disasters. Let us find some lessons we can learn to avoid their mistakes.
1. Tom Carvel
Tom Carvel was the man who invented soft-serve ice cream and started the first franchise in America. He had a net worth of $200 million when he died in 1990 and had a will and trust to provide for his widow and family. It also included some donations to charities. The problem is he named seven executors and they all had some financial stake in this situation. They fought for years about the money and it cost millions. Carvel’s widow passed away without receiving any of the money because the executors were still debating.
Lessons to learn: 1) Because the trustee and executor may have to make some tough decisions, it is best to choose people that will not benefit financially from your estate. 2) “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Having a single trustee and executor maybe a better choice than a committee.
2. Jimi Hendrix
When Jimi Hendrix passed away at only 27 years old, the rock guitarist did not leave a will behind. There were many people who were interested in his estate and what his intellectual property would continue to earn including relatives, music industry bigwigs and business associates. His estate was managed by an attorney for the first couple of years but then his dad, Al Hendrix sued for control. He was granted the estate and once he died, left it to his adopted daughter. Jimi’s brother, Leon Hendrix, sued for some of the estate but it ended up in probate granting Leon nothing.
Lesson to be learned: Leave a will or trust. Having an experienced estate planning attorney help you put your wishes into writing will help eliminate costly conflicts after your death.
Prince, the 80’s pop icon, died in early 2016 without a will. It is said that because of a previous legal battle he left no will because of distrust in legal professionals. His estate is a celebrity probate disaster that will be costly and lengthy. There is even a battle to determine who really are his heirs.
Lesson to be learned: Having correct legal documents protects your legacy and your heirs. Don’t leave a legal disaster for your heirs and chance them losing their inheritance because you have developed a distrust or had a bad experience.
Use these celebrity probate disasters as a reminder that anyone’s wealth can be caught in probate if proper estate planning was not done. We are here to help you protect your family and legacy from ugly legal battles. Call us today.