Even with large fortunes at risk, celebrities are prone to making the same estate planning mistakes as those in the general public. A daunting process, estate planning can be made much less complicated with the help of a professional estate planner. The implications of failing to do proper planning include not having your wishes upheld, not protecting the financial future of your loved ones and costing the people that you care the most about. When former NFL player Steve McNair was killed by his girlfriend in 2009, his wife discovered that he had not prepared a will. Not only was his mother displaced from the home he bought her, his estate was slammed with a huge tax bill. It was not until 2012, that his widow petitioned the courts to have $3.7 million of the estate released to pay off the tax debt.
The absence of a will can tie up monetary funds for months, or years. It can prompt a legal battle between those that want to fight on behalf of what they think the deceased may have wanted, or what they feel they are entitled to receive. Leaving an outdated will and omitting important instructions from your will can cause similar conflict. Even though there are court processes in place to try to best administer a will when the estate planning is done poorly (or not done at all), going to court is the most expensive option. Estate planning is specifically designed to help avoid conflict during such a vulnerable time when you are dealing with a loss and emotions are raw. We can look to the following stories for examples of what not to do.
10 Ted Williams left contradicting burial instructions
9 Jimi Hendrix never wrote a will
8 Marlon Brando made oral promises
7 Health Ledger left an outdated will
6 Warren Burger left a DIY will
5 Florence “Flo Jo” Griffith Joyner did not tell her executor where to find her will
4 Leona Helmsley left everything to her toy dog
3 Doris Duke made her butler her estate executor
2 Whitney Houston’s father left unclear directions for fund allocation
1 Marilyn Monroe left her estate to her acting coach
After her death, famed sex symbol Marilyn Monroe left most of her estate to her acting coach Lee Stramburg. He received three-fourths of Monroe’s estate, which went to his third wife after his death. She did not know Marilyn and hired a licensing company, auctioned Marilyn’s belongings and sold the rest of the estate to a branding company for $20 to $30 million. If Marilyn had set up a trust for Stromberg and named her estate to someone else who could maintain it, then it would not have been left in the hands of a complete stranger.
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