Any lawyer specializing in the probate and estate planning field has heard many stories of people going to great lengths to maximize what they can leave for their children. This one ranks right up there with the best of them.
Elsie Poncher's late husband is currently buried in a crypt directly on top of Marilyn Monroe. He's been there for the last 23 years. Poncher owns the tomb right next to it, and plans to move her husband into it so she can sell the one directly above Monroe. Why? So she can -- hopefully -- raise enough money to pay off the mortgage on her Beverly Hills home. Poncher wants to leave the valuable property free and clear to her children.
But the mortgage is 1.6 million dollars. So where did Poncher turn to raise so much cash? To Ebay of course. You can see the sale listing here. The bidding opened at $500,000. Right now, the highest bid is $4.5 million -- and there are still several days to go!
Obviously, he did. In fact, he instructed Elsie to bury him there. According to this LA Times article about the sale, Richard told his wife, "If I croak, if you don't put me upside down over Marilyn, I'll haunt you the rest of my life." [I know, it doesn't make much sense because once he's dead, his life is over, but that's how the quote reads.]Is it worth increased financial security for your children to incur the wrath of your deceased husband's ghost? I guess it is to Elsie.
For most people, with more conventional assets, it's best to use the services of an experienced estate planning attorney and financial planner. In fact, most lawyers who practice in this area of law have relationships with good financial planners to help clients address both their legal and financial needs. That's the best way to plan for retirement and pass the most wealth onto the next generation.
Or you can turn to Ebay. It seems to be working for Elsie. Hopefully, she'll work with a good lawyer and create a revocable living trust. Many people in her shoes add a child's name to real estate as a shortcut to proper estate planning, but that only leads to trouble for most families. While that method may often avoid probate court, it opens a whole can of worms that can be much worse. For example, many times it only leads to a fight in court over who really owns the asset.
Stay tuned to this blog to find out how you can learn about the trouble joint tenancy can cause and why your family is better off avoiding it.
8/24/09 update -- the bidding is over. The winner bid a whopping $4,602,100. Of course, we are talking about eternity; how can you put a price on that?
Posted by: Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law. You can email him at awmayoras @ brmmlaw.com.Follow us on Google+