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Avoid These 3 Common Estate Planning Mistakes Made by Celebrities


When we read about famous people in the news or in tabloids, we may be persuaded to mimic their behaviors. We try the diets or workout plans they promote or buy a new product because our favorite celebrity endorses it. We see movies they are in or read books that they write because we feel as though they know something special about leading a celebrity lifestyle.

But this does not mean they are not like us. In fact, many celebrities make the same types of mistakes that non-famous people make. The only difference is that theirs may be widely publicized. People can learn a lot from the missteps of others, especially when it comes to estate planning.

There are three very common mistakes that Los Angeles residents can make when planning an estate that celebrities have also made.

Sonny Bono, an entertainer and politician, was known for many great achievements in his lifetime. But when he died unexpectedly, it was discovered that he had never put together a will or estate plan. Without those documents, his loved ones had to go through a number of obstacles just to distribute his assets and continue operating his business ventures.

Health Ledger, a well-known young actor, had an estate plan in place but failed to update it after having a child with his significant other, actress Michelle Williams. Without updated documents, his assets went to his sister and parents when he passed away, leaving Williams and their daughter out completely.

Florence Griffith Joyner, the Olympic athlete known as Flo Jo, had a will in place but no one could find it, leading to disputes between her mother and her husband. And when Ted Williams passed away, there were two documents with different instructions on what should happen with his body. Delays in finding his will meant that a court granted the wishes detailed in a different note before the will could be filed.

Putting together an estate plan can be complicated. But it is essential that a plan be drawn up, updated, and kept in a safe and accessible place. Ignoring these three fundamental aspects of an estate plan can make it unnecessarily difficult for loved ones to carry out your wishes and access the assets they have been granted.

Source: The Community Voice, “Famous people who failed to plan properly,” Ken Weise, Oct. 4, 2013

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