Houston Estate Planning Law Blog

THE RICH, THE FAMOUS, THE UNPLANNED ESTATES

We’d like to think that when it comes to dying, because it’s an inevitable fact and we know it’s coming, that planning for it should be easy. But when death is sudden, often times even the people we think would be most prepared for their parting end up being the ones without a plan.

This is especially true for estate planning, and as history has shown us, sometimes not planning for the inevitable can make serious problems when you’re gone. Take these notable singers for example:

When Sonny Bono suddenly passed away, his third wife was left to manage an estate with no will, no trust, and no direction. It wasn’t until she had secured permission from a probate judge that she was able to exercise authority over the estimated $1.7 million estate.

Singer James Brown had the opposite problem when he passed away. He had a will and wishes he wanted carried out, but because he had failed to update his beneficiaries to include a special trust to benefit poor and needy children, and because he hadn’t discussed this with any of his surviving family members, his money ended up going to legal teams instead.

Although a majority of our readers may not be celebrities, it’s important to remember that it’s not just the rich and famous that should be getting their estate in order before they pass. Legal disputes can happen to anyone, no matter how large or small their estate may be. It may be as simple as who gets their grandmother’s favorite porcelain doll to as complicated as millions of dollars in assets; either way, it’s a headache you can save your family if you remember to plan ahead.

Source: Wealth Management, “Lessons of the Rich and Famous … in Death,” Jim Moniz, Dec. 24, 2012

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FINANCIAL ADVICE FOR RECENT WIDOWS

As many married couples in Texas and around the world are aware, nothing could ever replace your spouse when they pass away. Especially when your spouse is the one that usually takes care of the important paperwork and finances.

In cases where there is no will, family members may become overwhelmed when it comes to sorting out the estate. But seeking the help from a financial planner or an experienced estate planner may help clear up some of the confusion associated with sudden loss.

The first piece of advice is to find out what the time frame is to file estate planning paperwork. Though losing a spouse can be traumatic and put you in a state of shock, it’s important to keep in mind that there are certain legal issues that must be dealt with right away.

The second piece of advice has to do with finances. Many households are still trying to recoup funds from the recession, and though spending money on a financial planner after the death of your spouse may not seem like a good idea, getting professional advice may help alleviate some of the stress and help sort out many important financial issues.

If you don’t have an estate planner, it is well advised to get one in order to help draft new estate documents. Asking your friends or financial planner for recommendations may lead you to a skilled estate planning attorney who may be able to help explain difficult legal matters that could arise after a death.

The death of a loved one is never an easy thing to deal with. Paperwork, expenses and legal paperwork only seem to complicate an already difficult situation. Having the right people to talk to and receiving advice that makes the most sense for you, may make all the difference in getting your life back to relative normal.

Source: Forbes, “Sudden Loss: Financial Advice for Widows,” Eve Kaplan, Aug. 28, 2012

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