Many high-net-worth Californians wait until later in life to make an estate plan. Since it is impossible to know for certain when an individual life will end, waiting to prepare estate planning documents could be a significant mistake. Dying without a last will and testament can cause legal complications for loved ones, including contention between family members if a dispute arises during the settlement of the estate. This has been evident after the deaths of several celebrities.
Just because someone is rich and famous does not necessarily mean an estate plan has been put in place. Several well-known celebrities have died without having signed a last will and testament. Such stories have become headline news when family members or others who claim to have a stake in a celebrity’s estate have gone to court to fight for what they believed they were entitled to inherit.
Howard Hughes did not sign a will
Howard Hughes was once known as the richest man in the world. Many people were surprised to learn that Hughes never signed a last will and testament, nor executed any type of estate plan. Some financial analysts believe that his estate could have avoided, at least, some of the nearly $170 million in taxes it incurred had he worked out a solid estate plan ahead of time.
Wills were found in soul music icon, Aretha Franklin’s home
In addition to writing out one’s wishes and instructions, a last will and testament must be properly witnessed and notarized for it to be legally enforceable. In the case of ”The Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, several handwritten notes that appeared to be intended as wills were discovered in the late singer’s home after she died. The validity of the documents has been called into question, although at least one of them was notarized. Cases like Hughes’s or Franklin’s show how complications can arise during probate that are easily avoidable, as long as there is a solid estate plan in place when someone dies. Any adult in California who wishes to avoid such issues may schedule a meeting with an estate law attorney for guidance.