Do you like to watch or listen to news about your favorite celebrities? Do you enjoy reading about their achievements, awards, new projects, family moments, and more? While it is fun to learn more about our favorite celebrities, unfortunately, it is very sad when we read about them because a tragedy or death has occurred.

Most everyone is familiar with Chadwick Boseman who starred as the Black Panther in the highly successful film of the same name and in the Avenger movies. Were you aware that recently Chadwick Boseman made the news because he lost his life to cancer? Now questions are starting to be asked about his estate plan. Did he have one? Was his family protected? As a relatively young man with a busy career, did he take the steps to secure his estate? Unfortunately, the majority of Americans still do not have an estate plan and many believe it is something to do only later in life.

According to the news, Mr. Boseman passed away “intestate” or without a will. Therefore, his family had to follow the laws outlined by the state of California. Because Mr. Boseman did not have a plan in place saying otherwise, his wife and his parents were to evenly split his estate. Mr. Boseman is also not out of line with other recent, tragic losses of celebrities and the lack of critical planning.

Were you aware that when Prince passed away he did not have an estate plan in place that governed his assets and how he wanted those around him to inherit? Even now it is still reported that years later the fighting continues. By contrast, Aretha Franklin was reported to have over four wills. Unfortunately, not a single one of them was properly executed or completed. As a result her estate has lingered over four years and now the IRS must be paid millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.

It is important to be aware that even the best estate plan can be challenged. This makes proactive estate planning with an experienced California estate planning attorney critical. As a lesson, it is important to remember that when Robin Williams passed away he had a strong estate plan but, according to reports, his family still engaged in a five year legal battle over the assets within it.

So, what estate planning lessons can we learn from these celebrities? Can they teach us to protect ourselves and those around us? What about our desire, like theirs, to leave a legacy not just within our own family but in our community? We would like to share a few estate planning lessons with you right now:

• To ensure your family is protected you must have an estate plan in place
• To know that without a trust in place, your unprotected assets may be subject to the probate process
• To remember the probate process is public and can be both costly and time consuming
•To be aware that if there is any uncertainty in your estate planning it could lead to further heartbreak for your loved ones
• If there is no health care planning in place there may be no one to make critical decisions for you in a crisis
• Without a decision maker with legal authority, your family may have to go to court to obtain a guardian or legal advocate
• With a thoughtful estate plan in place, you can create a legacy for your future goals, and a plan that will outlive you
• If you do not have a trusted fiduciary in place to manage your wealth, it may be wasted
• Without the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney you may pay much more in taxes
• You will need a trust to harness and manage the assets you have in multiple states
• To reduce the potential for fighting between family members
• To be aware that a crisis can happen at any time and you need to plan forward now, while you are able to make decisions about what you want for the future

As you can see, there is much to learn from celebrity estate planning. The key is to learn and plan forward. We know you may have questions. Our firm is here to answer them and assist you in creating an estate plan that will reach your goals.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Our office is here for you and your loved ones. Please call us to schedule a meeting time.