Public Figure Estate Planning Mistakes
Below are just some of the estate planning and strategy mistakes that cause serious problems for estates. They should be resolved with the advice and involvement of a qualified estate strategist or planner. They are all important. Delay or failure to address and act could cost dearly in terms of dollars and excessive heartache for yourself or family.
- Improper use of jointly-held property
- Poorly arranged life insurance
- Lack of financial liquidity
- Choice of the wrong executor
- Will errors
- Leaving everything to your spouse
- Improper disposition of assets
- Failure to stabilize and maximize value
- Lack of adequate records
- Lack of an estate maximization plan
*Source: The Tools & Techniques of Estate Planning, Leimberg Library
The first step towards maximizing your estate is to choose the right person or firm that is expert in finance and also specializes in estate planning and maximization. They will know to resolve the common mistakes, then to eradicate all the other oversights and vulnerabilities which exist.
People we all feel like we knew: Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elvis Presley, Warren E. Burger, Marilyn Monroe, John Denver, Michael Crichton, Steve McNair, Harry Truman, Clark Gable, even John D. Rockefeller Sr. and Princess Diana, are just a few who accumulated sizable estates that were devastated unnecessarily by estate taxes, debts, court fees and unrealized goals for their property after they passed.
An actor’s example of why most estate plans fail…
It’s sad. A beloved person, an actor we all knew well, passed away in June, 2013…
Still relatively young, only fifty-one years old, he’d built an estate estimated to be near $70 million. He was one of the chosen, someone who truly succeeded within his profession.
Since he’s left us, we’ve learned that he was a very caring and generous man who genuinely loved the people in his life. Especially family closest to him.
He did have the foresight and recognized that his personal business affairs needed to be in order should anything happen, which did. There was a will, and within it he appropriated his significant assets; to a first wife and thirteen year old son, a second wife and newborn baby he had with her, two sisters, homes in various countries and other possessions. However…
His forethought and intentions weren’t sufficient.
Realizing that he had a relatively complex situation, just six months before his unexpected death, he had a will prepared, drawn with the idea of his assets being appropriated in accordance with his desires. Unfortunately, though he clearly had financial advisories involved, things went seriously wrong for the estate and his ultimate goals even though the possibility of his passing was being accounted for.
If not careful, a bad estate plan can lose more than 50% of your assets.
It’s a sad ending to the story of a successful man who developed a lucrative career. Because he didn’t know enough to seek out particular guidance, the will that was executed for him left his estate vulnerable to the 40% estate tax rate currently in effect. That’s just the federal government’s take and doesn’t take the emotional devastation to the family into account.
Being conservative, this means that Uncle Sam seized up to $30 million (you read that right) of the actor’s $70 million, wealth that should’ve gone to his heirs (and not the IRS) if his situation had been understood, and his estate constructed properly by knowledgeable strategists.
None of this is what our actor friend would have wanted. He certainly didn’t expect that tens of millions of his hard earned dollars would be captured by our government unnecessarily. Nor would he have wanted his family to suffer through the unbelievable heartache and other financial pains that came with this outcome. Sad indeed.
Please make the conscious decision to keep your assets in your family, which is exactly where they belong.
Why don’t people know better?
You might be surprised at the number of wealthy individuals who don’t properly maximize or even attempt to “plan” their estate mentally. Worse than that, intestate – a fancy way of saying that someone has passed away without a legally enforceable will in place. If you die without properly tending to your estate, chances are Uncle Sam will take a great deal, possibly most, of what you leave behind.
Another of the most frequent and surprising reasons for estate planning failures is when estate owners have a plan but do not fully implement it. It’s considered to be a “failure to execute” when assets are not properly transferred to trusts, other appropriate financial vehicles or when planned gifts are not made.
Howard Hughes died with $2.5 billion and planned to leave his entire estate to advance medical research. Unfortunately, he never put it into writing. His oversight cost his estate hundreds of millions of dollars in estate taxes and also impacted potential disease cures and treatments that may have been developed with the benefits of his intended gift.
Elvis’ $10,000,000 estate was left with only $2.7 after estate taxes and litigation.
John Denver’s failure to create a plan and name a beneficiary cost his daughter millions.
Marilyn’s estate lost 55% to court fees and taxes.
James Gandolphini, Heath Ledger, Whitney Houston, Marlon Brando, Sonny Bono, Jimi Hendrix, Thomas Kincade, Ray Charles, Ted Williams, James Brown, Jim Morrison, Jerry Garcia all made different, yet all significant errors that would’ve been relatively easy to prevent prior to their passing.
The list is long – these are household names, most families that suffer are not – and continues to grow unnecessarily.
To expand the bottom line value of your estate and dictate where assets are to go, you need an estate maximization plan……
I’m easy to reach and speak with and look forward to sharing more about our company and Estate Maximization with you.
You can and should keep it in your family…
P.S. The time you spend with me will be rewarded by ideas and perspectives that will help enable your family to preserve your assets long into the future. It’s your wealth. You earned it and you deserve to keep it in your family!
We don’t circumvent and we work well with in-place legal, accounting and all other advisor team members whenever requested or otherwise professionally and ethically appropriate.