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Using Celebrity Stories Is A Great Way To Bring Up Estate Planning

MarketWatch.com recently featured an interesting article about the benefits that families gain by having the estate planning conversation early.  Not only does it improve family relationships, it helps sets the stage and prepares family members for facing the difficult issues caused by a loved one who ages or passes away.    Trial and Heirs cover 2nd-edition

The article noted how a UBS Wealth Management study recently found that only 43% of affluent Americans felt that having this conversation with their heirs was a pressing issue.  That’s surprising because experts predict that between now and the year 2050, the largest wealth transfer in U.S. history will occur:  a whopping 30 trillion dollars.

The problem is that having this conversation is seldom easy.  Who wants to sit around talking about legal and financial planning for when someone dies or becomes incapacitated?  Most family members are too busy with the stress of their daily work and personal routines to worry about talking to loved ones about death and dying.

While the MarketWatch article includes a couple suggestions, there is one more that we are huge proponents of:  using celebrity stories.  Instead of awkwardly beginning the conversation by asking your loved ones to consider what will happen when you pass away, why not bring up Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Princess Diana, or even Elvis?  These are all celebrities we have recently written about here at Trial & Heirs.

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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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Dispute Over Where To Bury Casey Kasem Teaches Lesson

The famed American Top 40 Countdown DJ passed away in June, at age 82, with a host of medical problems including advanced Lewy Body dementia.  Now, almost four months later, Casey Kasem’s remains still have not been laid to rest.  Casey and Jean Kasem

It’s a tragic story of a feuding family.  And unfortunately, it’s one that won’t likely end any time soon.

Kasem’s wife of more than 30 years, Jean Kasem, wasn’t exactly close with his three adult children from his first marriage.  In fact, Casey’s daughter Kerri Kasem recently said in an interview with Howard Stern that Jean Kasem didn’t like her or her siblings since the time that Kerri was just nine years old.   According to Kerri, Jean would even invent bad deeds that she told Casey the children had done so he would be mad at them.

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Tom Clancy Estate In Family Fight Due To Poor Estate Planning

Anyone who knows who CIA analyst Jack Ryan is likely appreciates the work of late author Tom Clancy.  Called the "father of the techno-thriller," Clancy's career took off with his first novel, The Hunt for Red October.  His career -- spawning movies such as Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger -- led to more than 100 million copies of his novels in print, with 17 books hitting the top spot on the New York Times best-seller list.  Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy passed away on October 1, 2013 from heart failure, at age 66.  He was survived by his widow, Alexandra Clancy, and their young daughter, as well as four adult children from his first marriage.

The Tom Clancy Estate has been valued, based on probate court filings, at $82 million.  It includes a $65 million ownership stake in the Baltimore Orioles, a rare, working World War II tank, a $7 million mansion overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, and more than $10 million in business interests based on his works.

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As Prince Harry Inherits From Diana's Estate, Troubling Questions Remain

Prince Harry celebrated his 30th birthday earlier this week. His mother, the iconic Princess Diana, passed away over 17 years ago, following the tragic crash as Diana and Dodi Fayed sped away from paparazzi in France.  What was so special about Harry’s 30th birthday (other than the fact that he’s still single, to the delight of eligible women throughout England)?  That’s the day Harry became entitled to receive the remaining half of Princess Diana’s assets.   Prince Harry

After Diana passed on August 31, 1997, her mother, Frances Ruth Shand Kydd, and her sister, Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia McCorquodale, became executors of her Estate, based on Diana’s last will and testament dated June 1, 1993 (amended through a codicil in 1996).  The probate filings at the time showed that Diana left behind assets valued at around £21 million (or worth about 31.5 million in USD at the time), netting £17 million after inheritance taxes.  Originally, the will called for these assets to be held in trust for Diana’s sons, Princes William and Harry, until they turned 25.

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Joan Rivers Teaches Lesson About Termination Of Life Support

“I ain’t afraid of death.”  Joan Rivers once told Time Magazine, “I’m in show business.  I died a million times.”   Joan Rivers

Aging.  Dying.  Death.  Concepts no one likes to think about, much less talk about.  Of the many fatal tragedies the celebrity world has suffered lately — Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams, and Casey Kasem, to name a few — perhaps none shook people to the core as much as the passing of Joan Rivers.

Even at 81 years old, her death seemed to take everyone off-guard. Except maybe Joan Rivers herself.  While on stage for the final time, she told the audience how she could die at any minute.  And a few weeks ago, she posted on her Twitter account:

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Celebrity Legacies: The Fleecing Of The Elvis Presley Estate

Elvis Presley earned more than one billion dollars during his career … so why was his estate worth only about ten million dollars when he died?  How did things get even worse for his heirs afterwards?   Elvis presley memphis

And what would Elvis Presley say about appearing as a hologram?

This is installment #6 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.

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