Celebrity deaths highlight estate planning mistakes

It is always sad to hear that a favorite celebrity has passed away. Celebrity deaths are tragic, but they can bring attention to the importance of having a well-rounded estate plan. The following are some things Bridgewater residents can learn about estate planning.

Dying intestate

Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos, passed away in 2020 leaving an estate worth approximately $840 million. However, it appears he did not have a will or trust dictating what to do with his wealth upon his passing. This means that he died intestate, and state intestacy laws will determine who is to inherit his sizeable estate. The problem with dying intestate is that you have no say in who is to inherit, and state intestacy laws may mean that someone is going to inherit your estate that you would not have chosen. This is why it is important to execute a will or trust during your lifetime.

Family disputes

When music legend Tom Petty passed away, he did have an estate plan in place that named his wife as sole trustee of his estate. Petty wanted his wife to take the opinions of his daughters into consideration regarding the management of his estate. However, the daughters and Petty’s widow disagreed over what the definition of “equally” was in Petty’s estate documents. This led to a costly estate battle, highlighting the need to communicate your wishes with your loved ones before you pass away.

The takeaway

What we can learn from these celebrity deaths is that it is important to execute an estate plan while you are still competent to do so, and to have a conversation with your loved ones about your estate plan so they understand what your wishes are. Estate planning attorneys can be a good resource for those in Bridgewater who want to execute an estate plan.