1. Jimi Hendrix's Critical Error: Doing Nothing
If you do not plan your own estate while alive, you could end up like Jimi Hendrix and have someone that you barely knew controlling your legacy. Hendrix's legacy was fought over in court more than 30 years after he died.
2. Justice Warren Burger's Critical Error: Doing It Yourself
Former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger created his own will with 176 words but he left out key provisions and his family paid the price.
3. Heath Ledger's Critical Error: Not Updating
Heath Ledger never updated his will with the birth of his daughter, leading to chaos and family members fighting through the press.
4. Princess Diana's Critical Error: Taking Shortcuts
Princess Diana used a "letter of wishes" leaving personal items to her godchildren instead of specifying her wishes in a will or trust.
5. Florence Griffith-Joyner's (Flo Jo) Critical Error: Forgetting to Tell Loved Ones Where Estate Planning Documents are Located
Olympian Flo Jo's original will couldn't be located and her probate estate took over 4 years to close.
6. Michael Jackson's Critical Error: Failing to Finish What You Start
Michael Jackson created a trust, but never fully funded it, defeating a primary purpose of having a trust. This led to public family fights in probate court.
7. Marlon Brando's Critical Error: Making Verbal Promises
Marlon Brando's housekeeper said Brando made oral promises of a home and continued employment, which led to two separate lawsuits after Brando's death.
8. Sonny Bono's Critical Error: Procrastinating
Sonny Bono passed away at the age of 62 without a will in place. This lead to many complications, including a secret love child who surfaced and wanted part of Bono's estate.
9. Whitney Houston's Father's Critical Error: Leaving Your Intent Unclear
Whitney Houston's father, John, named Whitney as a beneficiary on a large life insurance policy, but it was unclear if he wanted Whitney to keep the money or to turn over the money to her step-mother. This confusion led to a two-year court battle, which is ongoing.
10. Doris Duke's Critical Error: Choosing an Untrustworthy Executor or Trustee
Doris Duke chose an unsavory trustee - her butler - to manager her one billion dollar foundation. When he used assets for himself, it lead to an expensive fight in court that cost the charities Duke wanted to benefit.
Andrew and Danielle Mayoras can help teach your group, clients, and prospects how to learn from celebrity mistakes like these so they don't make the same type of estate planning errors. Learning how to do estate planning the right way doesn't have to be boring!
Posted by: Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Mayoras, co-authors of Trial and Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founders 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. Andrew and Danielle are husband and wife attorneys, professional speakers and consultants across the country. Follow us on Facebook and Google+.