This is the third installment in our celebrity estate planning mistakes series. In this article, we will go over the mistakes Princess Diana, Florence Griffith Joyner, Jimi Hendrix, Jenni Rivera, and Michael Jackson made. We can all learn from their mistakes and protect our families.
Died: August 31, 1997
Estimated Worth: $31.5 Million
When Princess Diana passed, she had a Will that named her mother and sister as her personal representatives. She also had a separate “Letter of Wishes”. This letter left the division of her personal belongings at the discretion of her mother and sister. All her jewelry and three-quarters of her personal belongings were to go to her children. The remaining quarter was to be split between her 17 godchildren. However, her mother and sister petitioned the court, and instead gave each godchild only one item from her estate. This resulted in the godchildren losing out on the share Princess Diana intended for them, about $160,000 each.
Lesson: Informal notes and letters can fail to be honored. Instead of trusting in your personal representatives, it is best to include such instructions in your trust or will itself. This will help to make your wishes more ironclad.
Florence Griffith Joyner (FloJo)
Died: September 21, 1998
Estimated Worth: $1 Million
When the Olympic sprinter passed, her husband was unable to find her original estate planning documents. Florence’s mother claimed she was promised the ability to live in their home for the remainder of her life. The husband disputed this. Since the original documents could not be found, neither party could prove their claims. This resulted in a legal battle between the two that lasted for years.
Lesson: If you complete any estate planning documents, be sure the people named in them know where the originals are kept. In many states, a copy will not be sufficient and may cause additional problems.
Died: September 18, 1970
Estimated Worth: $5 Million
Third, on the list of celebrity estate planning mistakes is Jimi Hendrix. When Hendrix passed, he had no estate planning documents in place. This left the decision of where his assets went in the hands of state laws. Ultimately, everything passed to his estranged father. When his father passed, he left the remainder of Jimi’s estate to an adoptive daughter from another marriage. Due to a lack of estate planning, Jimi Hendrix’s estate went to a stranger.
Lesson: At any age, it is important not to put off estate planning. Having the necessary documentation in place will ensure your loved ones are cared for and your assets go where you want them to.
Died: December 9, 2012
Estimated Worth: $25 Million
When Jenni Rivera passed in an unexpected plane crash, the only documentation she left behind was a handwritten letter. In this letter, she expressed the desire for her sister to be the guardian of her children and to care for her corporation. However, her situation was especially complex because at the time of her death she was in the middle of divorce proceedings. Thankfully, disaster was avoided and her wishes were carried out. But not all cases end so smoothly.
Lesson: It is vital that you take the time to complete valid estate planning documents. If you desire privacy and control, a revocable trust may be the solution for you.
Died: June 25, 2009
Estimated Worth: $161 Million
Michael Jackson was better equipped than the others in this article. He did create a Revocable Living Trust. But his mistake was that he did not fully fund his trust. This meant that his estate ended up in probate court aired everything to the public.
Lesson: When you start an estate plan, it is important that you finish it. If you create a Revocable Living Trust you must fund your assets into it for it to be effective. Fund your trust means that you retitle your assets from your name into the name of your trust.
Learn from Their Mistakes
Though our estate may not be large, we can learn from these celebrity estate planning mistakes. Make sure that you have the proper estate planning documents in place and all your assets are titled correctly.
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