In some ways, stars are just like us. They are great at their job but put off their estate planning… sometimes forever. Procrastination is a common trait, but it is difficult to grasp particularly when celebrities’ estates often continue to generate significant revenue after their deaths. Simple omissions or blunders can trigger years of court battles or cost their heirs millions of dollars in adverse tax consequences. Here are some beloved star personalities we lost we lost this year and the estates they left behind.
Larry King: Family Feud
Only weeks after the death of the broadcasting legend, his widow and his son are fighting over his estate. It is valued at $2 million. King died Jan. 23, 2021, at age 87. His widow, Shawn King, says he had named her as his executor (called Personal Representative in Florida) in 2015. But his son, Larry King Jr., has presented a handwritten Last Will and Testament (“Will”) from 2019 that splits the estate between King’s five children. Shawn King is disputing the document’s validity and says King Jr. has a conflict of interest because he owes the estate almost $300,000. He counters that she and his father were in the middle of a divorce when he died.
Kobe Bryant: Daughter Left Out
Fans and loved ones of the basketball great weren’t prepared for his sudden, tragic death in a helicopter crash. Neither were his estate planners. Bryant died Jan. 26, 2020, at age 41. He left a reported $600 million estate in trust for his wife, Vanessa, and their children. But one of the children was not named. She had been born only six months before Bryant and one of his daughters died in the crash. She is automatically entitled to share in the trust but could be left without the financial protections granted to her sisters.
Chadwick Boseman: No Will, No Worries? No!
The star of Black Panther and many other films died Aug. 28, 2020. He left no Will even though he had known for several years that he had terminal cancer. But he had done one important thing for his long-time partner: He married her. The marriage made her more likely to be appointed Personal Representative of Boseman’s $12 million estate, rather than his parents. But she still had to apply to the court to get decision-making power over her husband’s estate.
Alex Trebek: TV Personality: Nov. 8, 2020, age 80
Net worth: $75 million
The beloved host of Jeopardy! was cremated and his ashes remain with his widow in their Los Angeles home. His family is donating his wardrobe from the show to the Doe Foundation, an organization that helps men struggling to recover from drug addiction, homelessness and incarceration. His son said it aligns with Trebek’s plea to fans to “build a gentler, kinder society.”
Regis Philbin: TV Personality: July 24, 2020, age 88
Net worth: $150 million
The legendary entertainer was buried on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, his beloved alma mater.
Sean Connery: Actor: Oct. 31, 2020, age 90
Net worth: $350 million
The dashing star of the James Bond spy series and other film classics wanted his ashes scattered in the Bahamas, where he was living in retirement, and in his native Scotland.
John Le Carre: Author: Dec. 12, 2020, age 89
Net worth: $100 million
LeCarre built his estate on smash-hit spy novels based on La Carre’s real-life experiences in Britain’s MI6 espionage unit.
Long after their deaths, celebrities often remain in the news because of disputes over their hefty estates. Whether it is from a complete lack of planning or the result of improper planning, the issues that arise in celebrity estate planning can affect anyone. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or email@example.com to get started on your estate plan with a free phone consultation. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish, and Russian.