Celebrities make mistakes too. Their mistakes are just so much more interesting! But they can also be instructive. If the Rich and Famous can forget to do some basic estate planning, so can we. But we don't have to! Do you fall within the more than 50% of the U.S. population who has no will or estate plan in place? Well, read on ... and determine not to repeat these common mistakes.
No Will or Plan At All: What could James Dean, Jimi Hendrix, Picasso, and Sonny Bono have in common? You got it, they all died without a will or plan in place. Perhaps the saddest story of them all was the Rebel Without A Cause, James Dean who, not surprisingly, never got on with his father who had abandoned James at a young age after his mother died. However, when James Dean died without a will, his estranged father inherited the entire estate, including ongoing licensing royalties.
No Planning Ahead To Reduce Costs: Taxes and fees ate up so much of Elvis Presley's estate that out of an initial sum of $55 million, less than $3 million was left for his beneficiaries!
Just "Trust Me": Some celebrities just trusted those around them to follow their wishes, like Marilyn Monroe, who sadly had grown up in orphanages and foster homes, not even knowing she had a sister until she was twelve. Most of Monroe's estate was left in the hands of her acting coach, Lee Strasberg, with instructions that he distribute her personal property "in his sole discretion, among my friends, colleagues and those to whom I am devoted." Well, Strasberg distributed nothing, and when he died, it all went to his third wife (whom Marilyn never knew), and years later, those "personal effects" today make up the third largest income producing estate of a dead celebrity, behind only those of Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.
Writing a will, or putting into place an estate plan is one of those things so many of us plan on doing at some point, but they are also so often put off until "later". Don't wait, plan now and protect your family.