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Biggest Estate Planning Stories

Mistakes can easily be made during estate planning. Hearing about other’s mishaps might help you learn from them and avoid them later. Here are some important estate planning stories that may help you avoid conflicts in the future.

Michael Jackson: Didn’t Fund His Trust

Michael Jackson’s estate and will have been an ongoing discussion since his death in 2009. With his estate now being worth over $600 million, there are a number of legal battles over his property. Although Jackson created a trust, it was not adequately funded. Due to this mistake, his beneficiaries have had to go to probate court multiple times. Even now, his estate remains open.

The main takeaway from Jackson’s estate planning mishap is that a trust should be properly funded. Appearing in probate court is more expensive, more time consuming, and increases the likelihood of familial fighting.

Heath Ledger: Didn’t Update His Will

A person may have a will, but it does little good if it is not updated periodically. Prior to his death in 2008, Heath Ledger created a will, but did not update it following his daughter’s birth. Because Ledger failed to add his daughter to the documents, his entire $20 million estate went to his parents and three sisters. Fortunately, it was later revealed that all of Ledger’s money was transferred to his daughter, Matilda.

In Ledger’s case, the lesson to take away is that a will should be updated accurately following any life changes. The situation could have also been avoided if Ledger included language in the will that referenced any of his kin being the recipient of his estate. Preparing for future decedents can also make it easier on the will-writer if the will is not updated frequently.

Florence Griffith-Joyner: She Couldn’t Find Her Original Will

Although Olympic sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner had a will when she died at the early age of 38, the family could not find the original document. Florence died in 1998, but years of legal battles regarding her estate followed. Because the original documents were lost, her husband and her mother argued about whether Florence told her mother that she could live in the couple’s condominium rent-free. It took over four long years to close her probate estate without the will, which was much more costly.

The moral of Florence’s story is for you and your close family members to know where you keep your will in case of an emergency. Lawyers that focus on estate planning will be able to keep a copy of your will or trust on file to make it most accessible for you to find documents.

Next Steps in Estate Planning

Whether you are a celebrity or not, estate planning can be beneficial and help you and your family in the long run. If you or a family member is ready to start planning for the future, give Your Legacy Legal Care a call to speak to an experienced estate planning attorney today.

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