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Estate planning mistakes made by high profile celebrities

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2017 | Firm News

It may seem as though celebrities have so many people available to help them that there is no way they could possibly make mistakes when it comes to something as important as estate planning. However, as highlighted by a string of celebrity deaths over the last decade, major estate planning mistakes do happen in the lives and deaths of the rich and famous. This post will look at a few of the high profile stories that should offer Cranberry Township residents a cautionary tale on how to approach and work with their estate plans.

Most notable is the death of the music icon Prince. Prince died without an estate plan and, as such, his family has been engaged in a difficult legal battle to determine who should receive assets from his large holding of property and possessions. Somewhat similarly, track legend Florence Griffith Joyner created a will to outline her end of life wishes, but the document could not be found at the time of her passing. The lessons to be taken from these two celebrity deaths are that one should have an estate plan in place and that the documents of that estate plan should be accessible by a trusted party so that they may be reviewed when the creator passes on.

Recently this blog discussed the importance of making modifications to one’s will when the creator welcomes a new child to his family; actor Heath Ledger failed to do this when his daughter was born. The movie star had a will in place at the time of his death but that document had not been changed to include his child. As a result, his entire estate passed to his parents and siblings, and his young daughter was left with nothing.

Having an estate plan, being able to access that estate plan and updating that estate plan to reflect changing life needs are all critical components of protecting one’s wealth. In the New Year, readers are encouraged to speak with their estate planning attorneys to make sure that their estate planning documents are suited to their current needs.

Source:, “Avoid These Celebrity Mistakes With Your Estate Plan,” Matthew Talbot, Dec. 28, 2016