Learning From the Mistakes of Celebrities and their Wills

Developing an estate plan is an absolute necessity if you wish to protect your loved ones and the provision you have left for them. If you fail to provide an estate plan, your loved ones and favorite charitable organizations may not receive the assets you had hoped to leave to them.

One part of estate planning that is often overlooked is the need to update your estate plan when events occur that could change your intentions for the disbursement of your assets.

Take, for example, best-selling author Michael Crichton. You may know him because of the movie based upon his book, Jurassic Park. When he died of cancer in 2008, he left behind an estate worth $175 million.

His beneficiaries included an adult daughter from a previous marriage along with his current wife, Sherri Alexander. The estate planning was complicated by the fact that Sherri was pregnant with his unborn son when he died. Michael Crichton was so busy with his many responsibilities that he never took the time to update his will to include his soon-to-be-born son.

After his death, his wife, Sherri, sued the estate in order to include her son in Michael’s will. This lawsuit was opposed by Crichton’s adult daughter and a long, costly court battle resulted. Ultimately, the judge concluded that the young boy would also be included in the will, but millions of dollars were lost in the court battle to reach that decision.

Well-known actor, Heath Ledger, left a similar situation. Although young when he died, Ledger left behind an estate worth $16 million dollars due to major rolls like the Joker in the movie, Dark Knight. Originally, he had written his will to make his parents and three sisters his beneficiaries. It took a 5-year court battle and a lot of money spent in order to get his daughter, Matilda, included in his will. The reason for this court battle is that Heath had never taken the time to update his will to include her.

Obviously, most people do not like to consider their own death and its aftermath. Estate planning requires you to do that. These examples demonstrate the problems that can be avoided if decisions are made while you are still alive and your will can be updated. Contact us and let us show you the steps you can take to protect your loved ones and the assets that you wish to leave to them. If your life is being changed by a birth, a marriage, a divorce, or the death of a loved one, consider how this may affect your estate and take the necessary steps to see that your desires are carried out.



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