Celebrity Mistakes to Avoid When Updating Your Estate Plan

The entire world stops in its tracks when a celebrity dies. Sure, a personality we knew and loved is now longer, and that is sad. As an estate planning attorney, however, I always see these events as an opportunity to make an example of the real tragedy:

The estate plan that hasn’t been updated.

It’s a natural reaction to take charge of a situation once it’s made an impact on us, and this is precisely why I like to use the example of celebrities who have botched their estate plans. It doesn’t matter whether you have $1,000 or $1,000,000,000 – your money, your possessions, and your desires should be your own, both in life and after. That’s why, if your estate plan is written when you are the proud owner of not very much, and you die with lots more, your family may inherit way less than you could give them.

Take Whitney Houston and her untimely passing as an example. According to reports made by the AARP, she did have a will when she drowned in February 2012, but it was very outdated. “Drawn up a month before the 1993 birth of Houston's only child, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, the will was never revised — not even as the singer's became worth close to $20 million. Bobbi Kristina was 18 when her mother died, and under the will's terms was to receive 10 percent of the estate — $2 million — when she turned 21 and the rest later. By not updating her will, Houston failed to consider whether her daughter was mature enough to handle millions of dollars, Mayoras says. Even "$50,000 all at once to a 21-year-old could be too much," he says. Bobbi Kristina got the $2 million but not the rest of her inheritance. “

Don’t pull a Whitney.

Here are some additional steps that Grimaldi Law Firm can help you take to be sure your estate plan remains valid:

Make it easy to find. Locking it away in a safety deposit box will mean that upon your passing, a court order will be needed to access it. Put somewhere easy to find where your beneficiaries or a trusted source can access it easily.

Make wise choices in executors. And definitely choose more than one. You will want to ensure that you have backups if for some reason your primary choice cannot serve. Of course, whomever you choose should be made aware of the task they may have to take on, so long as they are willing. 

Avoid contradictions in your estate plan. Be sure that your will does not contradict any choices you make for beneficiaries of your retirement accounts, life insurance policy, etc.

Name guardians. One of the most important things you can do if you have minor children is to name a guardian in your will. If that person cannot serve as a guardian, you will need to have named a second choice in the will to ensure the future of your children does not end up in the hands of a stranger. We have a free report we can send you on six common mistakes parents make when naming guardians for their children. These are mistakes you will want to avoid! Please contact our office for a free copy of this valuable report.

Beware of unintentional disinheritances. A remarriage changes things up a bit. If you are remarried and have children from your first marriage and want to provide for them as well as your current spouse, you will need to update your estate plan. If you wish to disinherit someone intentionally, you should specifically state these intentions in your will.

Get professional guidance. Wills and other estate planning documents downloaded from the Internet will not be tailored to the specific needs of your family. This may seem like a quick fix, but unless you have the support of a professional and knowledgeable attorney, you may not be avoiding the mistakes that could jeopardize your family’s financial future.

The best way to learn about protecting your family is to talk with us at Grimaldi Law Firm in Hollywood about a Family Wealth Planning Session. Together, we can identify the best strategies for you to provide for and protect the financial security of your loved ones.

Grimaldi Law Firm, where your future is our present.

We can be reached at (954) 491-8707



Special Note: The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced real estate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.