In an interesting article, Fox Business delved into the “Monumental Estate Planning Blunders of 5 Celebrities.” The piece looks at estate planning mistakes made from some well-known, now-deceased stars who’s estate ended up out of their hands.
Leona Helmsley, widow of real estate tycoon Harry Helmsely, famously left a $12 million dollar trust to her dog, Trouble. Ultimately, this only served to cause trouble for her estate, since she simultaneously added the pup to her estate plan while nixing two of her own grandchildren. Because of the oddity of these actions, a judge awarded $6 million to each of the disinherited relatives and reduced Trouble’s trust to a measly $2 million.
Fox Business also lists Sammy Davis Jr. and Marilyn Monroe on their list of “blunders.” While Davis Jr. was generous in his will, his estate was not worth enough to cover the hefty tax bill. Monroe, on the other hand, did not plan her estate thoroughly enough to arrange for unforeseen occurrences. She left much of her estate to acting coach Lee Strasberg, but when he passed away her assets went to his wife, a stranger to Monroe. Fox Business relays that if she had used trusts, she could have provided for Strasberg and others of her choice. Similarly, Jim Morrison’s estate was left to his girlfriend and when she died with no estate plan of her own, his money went to her father. While his own parents fought this decision, they ultimately ended up splitting the estate, which could have been avoided with a more detailed plan.
Ultimately, celebrity aside, a properly executed estate plan can help avoid a multitude of problems in the long run. Learn from the mistakes made by the infamous icons of the past, and don’t put off your own estate plan any longer.