“Estate fails” of the rich and famous

January 24, 2018 Ian Hull Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, Power of Attorney, Support After Death, Trustees, Uncategorized, Wills Tags: , 0 Comments

You’d think that the rich and famous – who have access to the top professional advisors and strategists – would have airtight estate plans that left little wiggle room for unexpected tax surprises or legal challenges from jilted family members.

But all too often, significant issues arise. This recent article recounts the estate tales of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Prince, three superstar musicians who all died before their time and died leaving significant estate problems to resolve:

For Jackson, it was the significant undervaluation of his brand (a mere $2,125) which has led to years of estate tax litigation with the IRS. For Whitney Houston, it was a failure to foresee the consequences of her daughter’s struggle with drugs and her early death. For Prince, it was not having a will, with more than 45 people now claiming a piece of his estate. This was an issue we foresaw last year in an earlier blog post.

There are two things that all three performers had in common:

  • They all had significant fortunes; and
  • They all died young (Houston was 48, Jackson was 50, Prince was 57).

While the risk of issues or conflicts increases with larger estates because of the amounts involved, the relatively early ages of these celebrities also played a role. Each death was sudden and unexpected (even with the drug abuse issues that plagued all three), and estate plans were not as fully formed as they would have been had death been foreseeable.

All to say, while few of us expect an early death, all of us should plan for one, just in case.

Thank you for reading!
Ian Hull

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