Wills Feed

Joan Rivers' Estate Planning Was No Laughing Matter

Joan Rivers was widely respected for her sense of humor, work ethic, and willingness to say almost anything for a laugh.  When it came to planning her estate, however, the late comedienne and host of Fashion Police treated the matter very seriously.  Joan-rivers 2

Joan Rivers' last will and testament was signed on November 16, 2011.  A thorough and well-drafted legal document, her will named a living trust as her beneficiary.

Specifically, Joan Rivers, whose full legal name was Joan R. Rosenberg, signed the Rosenberg Family Trust on the same day as the will.  The will directed that all of her estate assets were to be distributed to that trust.

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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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Mick Jagger Can't Get No Satisfaction; Ugly Lawsuit Settles

It's rough being Mick Jagger sometimes.  Even as the front man for the famed Rolling Stones, he Can't Always Get What he Wants.  But when he tries, at least sometimes, he  just might find ... that he gets what he needs.  These days, what Sir Mick (as he is known officially in England) truly needs is some peace and quiet ... and a little privacy.  Is it too much to ask to Get Off of his Cloud?  Mick Jagger

Sir Mick took a beating in the media last week when a lawsuit that he had hoped to keep quiet became very public.  That is what often happens with lawsuits involving those in the public eye, especially in this digital age. In many courts across the country -- federal courts especially, but more and more probate and other states courts too -- anyone who knows how to track down the electronic court records and is willing to pay a small cost can read all the juicy details about court battles from the comforts of their own home.

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Celebrity Legacies: Kurt Cobain Burns Too Bright, His Death Sparks 20 Years Of Fighting

It has been more than twenty years since Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, died from a shotgun blast to his head, at age 27. His talent, passion, and creativity launched a new movement for not only rock music, but American culture itself.  Kurt-Cobain

This is installment #7 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.

Cobain was a game-changer who burned too bright -- brighter than he could handle. His suicide note summarized it well: "I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away."

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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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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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