Estate Planning Faux Pa’s of the Rich and Famous

Another version of failing to plan that equals planning to fail.

The number of rich and famous people who fail to plan or have inadequate plans for their estates are too numerous to mention:

1.Graucho Marx
Groucho Marx had a will, however he did not have a comprehensive estate plan. As a result, Groucho Marx’s case is cited by many associations as an example of why strong legislation is needed to protect individuals from guardian abuse. Unfortunately, court-appointed guardians do not always receive the necessary and proper supervision and an individual can be the subject of substantial guardian abuse. As a result, keeping your estate plan up to date with trustees and powers of attorney who you know and trust is an important way to protect yourself from abuse by a guardian as you get older.
2.James Dean
James Dean became very wealthy, very fast and very young. James Dean also died very young without an estate plan. James Dean was estranged from his biological father. James Dean’s father had abandoned him when he was a child and he was raised by his aunt and uncle. When James Dean died, the biological father showed up. The biological father was by the law of descent and distribution his only biological heir. As a result, the estranged father came into control of all of James Dean’s estate, a man who had abandoned his child got everything. This is just another example that failing to plan is planning to fail.
3.Pablo Picasso
In 1973, Pablo Picasso died without a will. He is not the first famous person nor the last to die without a will. However, after he died his six heirs fought for six years over the wealth of assets he left behind. One lesson: Once again, failing to plan is planning to fail. Pablo Picasso’s family went into years of probate litigation, proving that when money is involved family may not matter.
The great artist from Minneapolis died recently. His net worth is estimated at $300,000,000.00. He died without a will or estate planning documents of any kind. His estate tax could be as high as $120,000,000.00. Again, he failed to plan and therefore, planned to fail.

One could go on and on about the rich and famous who have had inadequate estate plans or no estate plans at all. The point is this: an estate plan is an act of love for those you leave behind. Their lives will be richer and more harmonious knowing your wishes:

  • Even if you are young and healthy and you think you will have plenty of time to get this done later, you need to have a plan in place. No one knows when death or disability will strike.
  • Changes in your family can mean a need to change or update your estate plan. Always try to keep things current.
  • A proper estate plan with people who you know, love and trust, given the proper guidance is vital. The best place for this guidance is in your will or trust or in an intent letter that can help your trustee manage your trust.
  • Proper planning is for more than just assets. Proper planning protects you and your family. Your proactive plan helps care for you while you are alive and well and when you become disabled. After you are gone, proper planning prevents family fights and hurt feelings.

When you are ready to be prepared better than the rich and famous, give me a call. I look forward to hearing from you.

Doug Thesenvitz
Thesenvitz & Mickelson, LLP
(605) 334-9448