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These mistakes complicate estate administration and probate

When celebrities die, news outlets here in Georgia and elsewhere carry stories about how they died and what happens to their families now that they are gone. Like everyone else, celebrities make estate-planning mistakes that complicate estate administration and probate. These errors present an opportunity for everyone to learn what not to do in order to make the process easier on surviving family members.

Obviously, most people -- whether here in Georgia or elsewhere -- do not accumulate the amount of wealth that many celebrities do, but that does not mean that the lessons are any less applicable. Take the recent death of Prince, for example. He failed to create an estate plan at all, and now his siblings and others are fighting over who will receive what share of his millions of dollars and other assets. Furthermore, a substantial portion of his wealth will go to taxes, attorney's fees and other costs.

Other celebrities failed to update their estate plans when they had children or their wealth grew. Whitney Houston had an estate plan, but she failed to consider whether her young daughter would be able to handle the substantial amount of cash she would receive at the age of 18. Heath Ledger failed to update his estate plan when he had a child, so his estate passed to his siblings. Fortunately, they provided for his daughter. Michael Jackson failed to properly fund his trust, so a number of his assets were, and are, the subject of probate litigation.

Many celebrities fail to create an estate plan that could be considered "user friendly" when it comes to estate administration and probate. Like them, Georgia residents also make the same mistakes, and their heirs and beneficiaries may pay the price. To avoid making costly and time-consuming errors in estate planning, it would be beneficial to involve an attorney in the process and review the documents periodically.

Source:, "Avoid These Celebrity Mistakes With Your Estate Plan", Matthew Talbot, Dec. 28, 2016

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