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Celebrities and estate planning mistakes

Celebrities can provide great examples of what Nevada residents should be aware of during the estate planning process. In the case of Robin Williams, a co-trustee of a trust set up for his children was forced to make details of his estate public when petitioning the court for a replacement for the other co-trustee who had predeceased Williams. This completely negated the privacy that a trust provides when someone passes away. The lesson here is to repeatedly review and update documents when necessary.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman provided an example of why it is important to create an estate plan that mirrors an individual's wishes. Due to an aversion to trusts, he cost his estate millions of dollars in taxes that could have been used to support his family or a preferred charity. The lesson in his case is to understand the tax implications of an estate plan to minimize the burden on beneficiaries.

While Hoffman was not married, Casey Kasem ran into issues related to marrying more than once. In his case, a lack of communication between his second wife and his children caused a feud over who got to make medical decisions for him. The wife challenged his daughter's status as his agent for health care decisions as he was incapacitated and unable to do so himself. The takeaway from his case is that families should talk to each other and create a plan that keeps the best interest of an individual in mind should anything happen to that person.

While celebrities often accumulate wealth and fame, they may make estate planning mistakes. Consulting with an estate planning attorney may help an individual learn from those mistakes and create a ironclad estate plan. Doing so may make it easier to determine who has access to health records or can make an end-of-life decision. It may also make it easier to keep the details of an estate private after an individual passes on.

Source: Forbes, "Lessons Celebrities Can Teach Retirees About Estate Planning", Thomas and Robert Fross, September 16, 2014

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