Famous Mistakes: Celebrity Wills that Went Wrong

Pile of MoneyYou would assume that celebrities, who are surrounded by attorneys and other business professionals, would have comprehensive estate plans to protect their property and family. Unfortunately, substantial wealth in itself does not protect you from making estate planning mistakes. The celebrities below could have benefited from advice from our Dayton estate planning attorneys.

Even with all of the resources their wealth should have provided, these celebrities made huge mistakes when drafting their wills and estate plans. If a former Supreme Court justice can mess up his own will, anyone can make an estate planning mistake. Below are the lessons we can learn from the estate planning mistakes made by celebrities.  Some of these mistakes were very costly; therefore, it is in your best interest to consult with our Dayton estate planning lawyers to avoid mistakes that could hurt your family after your death.

Five Famous People Who Got Estate Planning Wrong

Phillip Seymour Hoffman – Plan to Avoid Estate Taxes

Phillip Seymour Hoffman had an estate plan when he died; however, the estate plan failed to protect his estate from federal and state taxes. The taxes on Hoffman’s estate decreased the net value of his estate by roughly 40 percent. That was a substantial amount of money his family lost to the government because Hoffman failed to develop an estate plan that avoided estate taxes. Our Dayton estate planning attorneys have a thorough understanding of estate taxes. We can help you develop an estate plan to avoid estate taxes when possible.

Chief Justice Warren Burger – DIY Estate Planning is Not Wise

You would think a Supreme Court Justice would know better than to trust a DIY estate plan; however, Justice Burger made a costly mistake. At the time of his death in 1995, Justice Burger’s estate was worth $1.8 million.  With an estate of this size, you would expect a comprehensive estate plan. However, Justice Burger wrote his own will that consisted of 176 words. Because he chose to write his own will, Justice Burger failed to include important provisions that cost his family time and money. The lesson to learn from this estate planning mistake — even judges need help with estate planning if they are not estate planning lawyers. Read more.

Jimi Hendrix – Doing Nothing

No one lives forever and sometimes the good do die young. Jimi Hendrix was only 27 at the time of his death. He did not have a will; therefore, his entire estate was left to his father under intestate laws. Hendrix’s $80 million legacy was the subject of a 30-year court battle between his family and the state. Regardless of the size of your estate or your age, you need a will to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death. You do not want the state to decide who gets your property.

Heath Ledger – Failure to Update

Heath Ledger had a will — he did have an estate plan, so he did everything correct. Wrong! Ledger made a critical error that many people make. He failed to update his will after a major life event. Ledger did not update his will after he entered into a relationship with Michelle Williams and had a daughter with Williams. Ledger’s will left everything to his parents and his sister, cutting out his daughter completely. Lesson to learn . . . you need to periodically review your will and estate plan, especially after a major life event (i.e. divorce, marriage, birth of a child, etc.).

Florence “FloJo” Griffith Joyner – Not Telling Loved Ones Where Documents Are Located

Florence “FloJo” Griffith had a will; however, she did not tell her loved ones where to locate the will after her death. Because her husband could not locate the original will, the court stepped in to appoint a third party to administer her estate. You must tell your personal representative where to locate your original will. Without the original will, your estate will likely be subject to Ohio’s intestate laws.  You cost your family time and money. Furthermore, intestate laws may not distribute your estate according to your wishes.

Other Celebrities Who Made Estate Planning Mistakes

Marlon Brando

David Bowie

Robin Williams

Casey Kasem

Paul Walker

James Gandolfini

Avoid Making Costly Estate Planning Mistakes

The Dayton estate planning attorneys of Lovett & Lovett can help you draft an estate plan that encompasses your wishes, protects your property, and provides for your loved ones. Contact our office by calling (937) 429-7730 to speak with an experienced probate lawyer.