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Top 10 Celebrity Stories To Spark Holiday Estate Planning Conversations

Sure the holidays are a fun time for families to sit around talking about what happened on the latest episode of The Walking Dead or how granddaughter Mary is doing in dance class.  But they are also a great time to have the important -- yet often difficult -- conversations about estate planning.  What happens when Mom dies?  Does anyone know where Dad kept his will?  Did they ever transfer the investment accounts into their revocable living trust like they were supposed to?   Walking dead

Many families don't ask these tough questions ... especially when dynamics are strained, like in many second-marriage families or when siblings don't get along well.  It certainly isn't easy to blurt out after passing the gravy, "Hey Dad, does your will put me or your wife in charge of your estate?"

But these conversations are important.  When the proper estate planning isn't done, it's the family members left behind who pay the price, often with bitter, ugly, and costly probate court battles.  They happen to families all across the country on a daily basis, from those of modest wealth to the very rich.

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Could The Amanda Bynes Dilemma Happen In Your Family?

The struggles of former child actress, Amanda Bynes, have been well-documented.  She had numerous brushes with the law, including repeated drunk driving and other drug and alcohol-related charges, reported shoplifting attempts, and even more bizarre behavior — such as setting fire to her pants and dousing her dog with gasoline in the driveway of an elderly neighbor.   Amanda_Bynes

In 2013, her struggles culminated in guardianship/conservatorship proceedings in California, giving her parents the right to make decisions for her as her conservators.  Amanda lived with her parents for the year, and seemed to be doing much better — enrolling in fashion school and avoiding both drugs and legal problems.

After the first year of conservatorship, her parents elected to let the proceedings terminate, restoring Amanda Bynes’s rights to make her own decisions.  They reportedly felt that she had been misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, and her problems instead stemmed from her use of marijuana.  Feeling the drug problems were behind her, Amanda’s parents decided to treat her as an adult and let her live her own life.

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Celebrity Legacies: The Anna Nicole Smith Estate Battle

So how long exactly does it take to resolve the dispute over the estate of an 89-year old Texas oil tycoon who married a 26-year old stripper and Playboy Playmate?  Shouldn't the case end when both the stripper (Anna Nicole Smith) and her "step-son" (Pierce Marshall, who was 27 years older than she was) die?  Anna_Nicole_Smith

And is this really important enough to be heard by the United States Supreme Court, not once, but twice?

This is installment #3 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts.  See other articles in the series here.

While we monitor, write about, and provide commentary for media outlets around the country about many complicated celebrity estates, this one takes the prize.  We call it "The Grand-Daddy Of All Estate Battles."  We've written several articles about this case so far, which you can read here.

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Jim Morrison's Estate And Legacy Marred By Probate Fights

Who opened the door to battles over the Jim Morrison Estate?  Who won ... and what did they win when the dust settled?  And does drinking your loved one's blood constitute a valid marriage ceremony?Jim_Morrison

This is installment #2 of our weekly Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts.  See other articles in the series here.  

Legendary Doors singer Jim Morrison died young at just 27 years of age, in 1971, from a heroin overdose. While his estate had limited cash when Morrison died, the assets in his estate became worth around $80 million.

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Casey Kasem Teaches Lessons In End of Life Planning and Elder Abuse

It appears that the life of famed Top 40 Countdown host Casey Kasem is nearly at an end.  Last Wednesday, a Los Angeles Judge ruled that Casey Kasem’s daughter, Kerri Kasem, could suspend the artificial delivery of food and water to Casey due to his grave suffering.   Casey Kasem 2

Specifically, according to the Los Angeles Times, Kerri Kasem’s attorney filed documents with the court reporting the doctors’ conclusion that “continuation of artificial nutrition and hydration is not in the patient’s best interests because it will at best prolong the dying process for him and will certainly add suffering to an already terribly uncomfortable dying process.”

On Tuesday, the same Judge granted the request of Casey’s wife, Jean Kasem, who asked that Kerri be ordered to resume infusions of food, water and medicine for the ailing Casey.  He has been hospitalized in critical condition with sepsis (serious infections that have reached the blood stream), other infections, bed sores, and late-stage dementia from Lewy Body disease, among other complications.

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Wife of Donald Sterling Used Family Trust To Cut Him Out

It seems that everyone wanted Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team, after his racist remarks about Magic Johnson and African Americans became public knowledge.  The NBA Commissioner, owners, players, Clipper fans, and Sterling’s own family did everything in their power to force him out.  Last week, the news broke that Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, reportedly accomplished what everyone wanted — an agreement has been reached for the Clippers to be sold for a reported $2 billion dollars to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.  Sterling

But how did Shelly manage to do this without going to court — which would undoubtedly air Sterling family dirty laundry that no one in the Sterling family or the NBA would want to see made public?

Reportedly, Shelly Sterling relied on a fairly standard provision in the Sterling family trust, which owns and controls the Sterling’s interest in the Clippers.  According to ESPN and others, Shelly and Donald were co-trustees with equal authority over their trust.  This gave them equal say in running the Clippers, including when to sell the franchise.  But, after the recent events, Shelly had her husband evaluated by doctors to determine if he was mentally competent to remain serving as one of the co-trustees.

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Casey Kasem Is Missing: Could This Happen To Your Family?

Casey Kasem — the legendary voice of American Top 40 Countdown and numerous cartoon characters — has been kidnapped by his own wife while he suffers from advanced dementia, according to Kasem’s daughter, Kerri Kasem.   Casey’s wife, Jean Kasem, is accused of secreting away the 82-year old former DJ, in a move that could jeopardize his health, safety, and well-being.  Kerri told a California judge and various media outlets that her step-mother had fled the state with her husband of 30 years, in an attempt to avoid a Judge’s ruling about who would be Casey’s new conservator.  Casey Kasem

The ruling was made on Monday, after a long family feud over the care and control of Casey Kasem.  During the Monday court hearing, Kerri and her attorney obtained a temporary conservatorship over her father so that she can begin making decisions for him, such as where he lives, who he sees, and managing his medical care.  Unfortunately, she won’t be able to actually make any of these decisions — or even see her father — while he is missing.

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