If you’re reading this, chances are you’re thinking about estate planning—and that means you deserve a congratulations! Why? Because you’re about to join the estimated 45% of Americans who have a plan in place to ensure that their hard-earned assets don’t end up wherever the courts decide. If you’re under 40, even bigger congratulations are due. A mind-bending 80% of millennials don’t have an estate plan…but, soon enough, you won’t be one of them—phew!
Putting an estate plan together is hard but essential work. Stepping up to the task deserves heart-felt congratulations, especially if you’re thinking ahead and doing so early. After all, caring for your assets means you’re caring for your loved ones. Furthermore, failing to do so can provoke disastrous results. The following blunders—by celebrities, no less—illustrate just how bad it can get…
Legendary MLB slugger Ted Williams left two conflicting directives at the time of his death, one instructing that his body be cremated, the other that it be cryogenically frozen. A legal battle ensued between his children, astoundingly, resulted in his head being cut off and preserved separately from his body. Yes, really.
Famed singer and politician Sonny Bono died intestate after incurring fatal injuries in a ski accident. His lack of a Will left his estate up for grabs, and lawsuits ensued. His second wife, Cher, sought $1.6 million in unpaid alimony and a supposed illegitimate child also filed for a piece of the pie. Only years later was his widow, Representative Mary Bono, able to mourn his death in peace.
The beloved interpreter of the Dark Night failed to update his Will after the birth of his daughter, Matilda, and as a result she was left out of his estate when the movie star passed in 2003. Only because of his parents’ and siblings’ kindness did she eventually receive her deserved inheritance.
Another beloved legend to pass without a Will was Prince, whose estate valued at $200 million dollars has yet to be distributed between among his heirs. The reason: before any checks can be cut the IRS and the executor must agree on the value of the estate when Prince died. Over $45 million dollars in legal fees later and a resolution has yet to be established.
If you still find yourself unconvinced of the need to institute an estate plan, a quick search will fill you in on the outrageous legal battles provoked by Michael Jackson’s and James Brown’s oversights; likewise, you might want to read up the tragedies that befell Marlon Brando’s or Marilyn Monroe’s heirs as a result of shoddily drafted Wills.
And if you’re thinking that such things only happen to celebrities, that is not at all true. After all, these are people with enough resources to have the best of the best intervene in their estate…and they still managed to invite calamity. Imagine, then, the sort of disasters that might await us mere mortals!
Your best protection is planning. Consider enrolling in a free estate planning workshop and start the ball rolling. As uncomfortable as it may be to imagine, you never know when late will become too late.