Some people make resolutions, some begin some spring cleaning and organizing, and others just strive to do things better than last year! What many people are not thinking about, and probably should be, is setting up a plan to protect his or her family with an estate plan, will or trust. Do not wait for a new year… do it now while you are thinking about it…or at least determine what you want to happen with your assets if you are no longer here.
The New Year is a time where people are feeling optimistic about their future and their lives, and are not usually thinking about planning for their death or the death of their loved ones, but setting up a plan in which a person’s personal wishes are legally documented is an important task that should be a part of anyone’s New Years Resolution list. There are a lot of reasons for this preparation: obviously it will protect a person’s wishes in case their life ends suddenly or after a long illness, but establishing the people who will make medical decisions for yourself if you happen to become unfortunately incapacitated is something many people do not think about when debating establishing an estate plan, will or trust.
Some people choose not to worry about the fate of their lives after they become seriously injured or deceased, and that choice has lead to disastrous ends in many circumstances. Here, in Los Angeles, the California court system will decide how a person’s end of life health care decisions are made if there are no legal documents giving those directions. Many families spend years in nasty court battles trying to sort out a loved ones assets because a proper will or trust was not established. Hugely public estate feuds have been apparent for many years involving many high profile celebrities and wealthy individuals, and in each case the need for an established estate plan becomes evermore apparent. Wealthmanagement.com gave a list of celebrities and famous individuals whose end of life plans did not go over as swimmingly as they might have hoped, and they serve as lessons of why these documents are so important for every adult, young or old.
Here are a couple of examples:
Sonny Bono, musician and California Congressman experienced a sudden death after a tragic skiing accident without a will or trust established, that left his wife, Mary, to open up a probate estate and needed to be granted permission to have authority over his music rights after claims from his second wife, Cher, and an alleged love child conflicted the security of his estate of over 1 million dollars.
James Brown wished to leave his entire 100 million dollar fortune in a special trust that was set up to benefit needy children, but because he had not updated his will during the time of his most recent marriage, his money did not get sent to the children in need, or to his family.
The actor John Wayne’s family is battling over the millions in his estate. His daughter Aissa Wayne wants to sell her share of the estate and another child Ethan Wayne will buy her out but needs to come up with a fair market price to do so. They are unable to agree on what that is. He says $10,704,000 while she says 15,400,000. The case is being heard in LA County Superior Court.
Although there are a lot of horror stories of celebrities estates gone wrong, one of the most inspiring high profile estate stories comes from the King of Rock and Roll himself, Mr. Elvis Presley. He had a will, along with estate planning tools that were put in place to make sure that his finances would be handled appropriately, despite greedy music executives trying to get a hold on his assets.
These are obviously grandiose stories that seem far fetched to most of us, especially considering the sheer amount of money involved in their estates, but similar things happen to people with less assets and wealth every day. These kinds of missteps leave families involved with the court and probate teams for years, and the security that would come with a will or trust is gone.
It is a good time to start making life decisions that leave you and your family healthier and happier than years past. One of the best ways to ensure that your family can continue to live in this way is to plan for the future of your family, even if you aren’t around.
For a free consultation please call 818 241 4238 or go to www.la-lawcenter.com