3 Celebrities Who Taught Us About Estate Planning

Posted on Apr 03, 2014

An article recently published by Forbes Magazine uses the estate plans of several major celebrities to teach us about effective estate planning. Each celebrity passed away and left behind an estate that needed to be administered. Some celebrities had effective plans in place at the time of their death, while others did not.

How did the estate administration of some of the nation’s celebrities teach us lessons about estate planning? Following is an overview.

Philip Seymour Hoffman Teaches Creativity

Unfortunately, the actor failed to incorporate techniques to minimize his estate tax liabilities in his estate plan. He also did not use a revocable living trust in order to avoid probate and manage his assets. However, he did opt to utilize an estate plan that focused on his goals in a detailed and unique manner. Mr. Hoffman’s will expressed the top three locations where he would like his child to be raised, as well as his wish that his son be exposed to the culture, architecture, and arts of those cities.

Elizabeth Taylor Teaches Proper Use of a Trust

Surprisingly, to those who suspected Ms. Taylor’s family would fight over her estate, the administration of the estate was peaceful. Ms. Taylor properly used living trusts in order to avoid the need for a probate filing. This also meant that her will was never made public. To this day, we do not know much about what happened to her assets aside from the fact that much of her estate was held inside the Elizabeth Taylor Trust.

Heath Ledger Teaches the Importance of Periodic Updates

Unfortunately, Mr. Ledger had last updated his will three years before he died. As a result, all of his assets were left to his parents and sisters, even though he left behind a young daughter who was born after the will was signed. Ledger’s daughter was the beneficiary of a $10 million life insurance policy, so it was unclear whether he intended to leave her out of the will or whether he had just neglected to update it. The family eventually decided that all of the assets should go to his daughter.

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