Top 10 Celebrity Estate Planning Fails to Avoid in the New Year

January 3, 2020

The celebrity deaths of 2019 were both tragic and shocking. What was also alarming from all of this was their estate planning. Though there’s an undeniable element of schadenfreude (guilty pleasure) that makes these disaster stories ghoulishly enjoyable, there are also important lessons to be learned…and avoided. The problems experienced by celebrity estates are often the very same ones that trip up our more typical clients, be it on a smaller scale. Read on to learn the top 10 celebrity blunders that everyone should avoid in 2020.

  1. Choosing an untrustworthy Successor Trustee or Personal Representative.
  2. Leaving your intent unclear by using vague terms in your estate planning documents.
  3. Procrastinating by thinking you are too young to do any planning.
  4. Making verbal promises to family and friends with no legal written instructions to back it up.
  5. Failing to finish what you start.
  6. Forgetting to tell your loved ones where your original estate planning documents are located.
  7. Not updating your estate plan, especially after a divorce.
  8. Do it yourself planning by using online legal services and guessing your way through the questions.
  9. Doing nothing usually leads to high legal fees in the probate court process and negative tax consequences for your heirs.
  10. Failing to nominate guardians for your minor children.

Indeed, outdated documents, beneficiary blunders and other estate-planning mistakes can tie your assets up in court for years, allow taxes and legal fees to eat up a chunk of your estate, and give inheritances to people you parted ways with, or hardly knew.

Making sure your estate ends up with the right people is more complicated than just drawing up a Trust or a Last Will and Testament (“Will”). IRAs and 401(k) accounts, for example, have their own named beneficiaries – and will automatically pass to the designated person, regardless of what’s in your Trust or Will. Yet many people fail to update the beneficiaries on these accounts. Additionally, a Will isn’t enough to protect your estate from court battles, taxes and the very arduous probate process. All of this can be avoided with the advice of an estate planning attorney.

Before you take your final journey, make sure you consult your estate planning attorney. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or to get started on your New Year’s resolutions.