There have been a number of high-profile estates in the news recently, with the deaths of Gary Coleman, George Steinbrenner, Stieg Larsson and Chris Haney (co-creator of Trivial Pursuit), to name a few. Most of the time, celebrities’ estates make the headlines because their estates were either unplanned or poorly planned. Stieg Larsson, for example, had no valid will, with the result that his common-law wife of 32 years received no part of his multimillion dollar estate; instead, everything went to his father and brother, from whom he was estranged (for more details, see the article in The Guardian).
Steven Morelli has an interesting article here about famously bad celebrity estate planning (keep in mind that some of the advice is specific to the United States), from no wills, to wills that were not properly updated, to not considering tax liabilities. Celebrities really are just like us – they are equally prone to a lack of planning. If there is one lesson to be learned from their mistakes, it is that some careful planning now can save your family a long, drawn-out fight in the future.