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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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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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Celebrity Legacies: Yoko and Julian Battled Over John Lennon's Estate

When John Lennon of the Beatles was tragically murdered in 1980, his controversial widow, Yoko Ono, took charge of his legacy and his fortune ... but where did that leave his two sons? As arguably the most successful songwriter of all time, what did Lennon leave behind?   John Lennon and Yoko Ono

And what did the King of Pop have to do with John Lennon's legacy?

This is installment #5 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.

He famously sang "All You Need Is Love."  When it came to leaving money for his first-born son, John Lennon must have had that song in mind, because he apparently didn't believe that Julian needed money.  In fact, according to Lennon's first wife, Julian's mother Cynthia, the man known as the "cool" Beatle was a cruel negotiator during their divorce. Cynthia says he refused to give more than 75,000 pounds for her and Julian, supposedly telling her she wasn't worth any more.

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Celebrity Legacies: Whitney Houston No Stranger To Estate Trouble

Whitney Houston's fortune bounced from sky-high to significant debt.  What did this mean for her estate?  And was it money — or something else — behind Whitney’s ugly legal battle with her “step-mother”?  Whitney_Houston_performing_on_GMA-300x231

How exactly does Bobby Brown fit into all of this?

This is installment #4 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.

Before Whitney Houston unexpectedly drowned in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub at age 48, on February 11, 2012, rumors circulated that she was in such financial trouble that she was nearly broke.  She reportedly died $20 million in debt.

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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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