Many people look to celebrities as role models who dole out life advice to their legions of fans. However, when it comes to the proactive steps involved in estate planning, many of the rich and famous fall short in those duties, leaving their families with a massive mess.
Celebrities sidestepping an important process
Recent examples include Prince and Aretha Franklin passing on without leaving legal documents that establish their wishes when it comes to money and other valuable assets.
Prince stands out as a classic example of an ultra-rich celebrity who didn’t bother with estate planning. His death in 2016 resulted in a six-year legal battle that ended in a settlement for an estate valued at more than 150 million dollars.
Two years later, Franklin, known famously as the “Queen of Soul,” passed away, leaving a unique estate planning problem behind, the existence of two wills. Three of her four sons battled in court to determine the valid version. The case went to a jury that ruled that the will discovered in couch cushions in her home represented her final wishes.
Famous or not, no one wants to consider a time when they will no longer be alive. While that hesitancy is understandable, a sense of reality must prevail. At some point, everyone dies. When their wishes are a mystery, chaos can ensue within a family while emotions are already running high.
Whether the documents are do-it-yourself or created with the help of an attorney, grieving relatives left without instructions that range from burial preferences to assets that will be passed on have more questions than answers. In that confusion, disputes can arise that splinter the strongest of familial units.