Learn from the Real Will Mistakes of These Celebrities

8:45 pm Estate Planning, Wills

hollywood sign e1377636285562 Learn from the Real Will Mistakes of These CelebritiesWhile celebrities doubtless have access to more legal resources than most people, there are several who have famously made big mistakes when it came to their wills.  Here is what you can learn from these famous errors:

Anna Nicole Smith – Her will left everything to her son, who predeceased her by several months.  It also had a provision that said she was intentionally omitting to provide for any future spouse or children.  She died without a spouse, but did have an infant daughter.  A later judicial order recognized her daughter as her sole heir; that daughter could inherit as much as $49 million from the estate of Smith’s late husband after years of protracted litigation.

Brooke Astor – Astor left her son from her second marriage, Anthony Marshall, several valuable real estate properties, $5 million in cash and lifetime income from a $60 million trust.  However, Marshall was indicted for stealing millions from Astor before she died at age 105, and is serving a prison term for his theft.  Under a settlement with the estate, he received far less than she left him in the will, proving that in this instance, greed is not good.

Gary Coleman – When he died at age 42, Coleman left two wills behind – one drafted in 1999 that left everything to his manager and another signed in 2005 that left his estate to a friend.  In 2007, Coleman married Shannon Price in Utah and added a codicil to the 2005 will that made her his heir.  Coleman and Price divorced in 2008, and Utah law invalidated the codicil because of the short duration of the marriage.  However, Price was still named as Coleman’s agent for medical decisions, and had his doctor take Coleman off life support one day following a serious accident in his home – even though his living will specified that he be kept alive for at least 15 days in case of just such an occurrence.  The lesson?  Updating wills and advance medical directives is critical after every major life event, including divorce.

Steve McNair – Quarterback Steve McNair was murdered in 2009 by his mistress, leaving a wife and four children but no will for his estimated $19 million estate.  If McNair had the necessary estate plan in place, a revocable living trust could have passed his assets to his family outside probate.  As it happened, the probate process froze his wealth and his family had to endure added costs and delays.

To properly protect your family and your assets with a comprehensive estate plan, contact our Orange County law firm.

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