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Estate Planning

More Tales of the Will-Less and Famous

By November 12, 2015No Comments

This newsletter periodically describes the estate planning catastrophes befalling public figures who die without having wills, trusts or other estate planning documents in place.

Famous people. They’re just like us.

Take our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.* Lincoln may have written the Emancipation Proclamation, but he did not write a will.

Or consider Stieg Larsson, the author of the best-selling Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which was adapted into a very popular movie.

When Larsson died in an accident, he had not written a will. As a result, all of Larsson’s assets went to his father. None went to Larsson’s life-long partner.

Singer/songwriter John Denver (“Rocky Mountain High”) fared no better. Denver died when the plane he was piloting crashed.

Because Denver did not have adequate estate planning documents in place when he died, his family and his estate were tied up in probate court for more than five years.

Famed artist Pablo Picasso’s estate was as jumbled as his cubist paintings. As a result of Picasso’s inaction, his estate spent approximately $30 million to settle his affairs and eventually distribute his assets among his six heirs.

Even those of the cloth put off or forget to create estate planning documents. The Rev. Martin Luther King is one example. Dr. King had no will when he was assassinated.

Few people die as unexpectedly and tragically as, for example, Dr. King or President Lincoln. However, no one knows when death will come.

So, everyone should have up-to-date wills, trusts (if appropriate), and powers of attorney in place — in case the unexpected happens.

Dying without estate planning documents — dying intestate — means that the state, and not you, will determine who receives your assets, in what amounts, and at what tax rates.

Take control. Protect your family. Contact your FOS attorney to create or update your estate plan.