While millions of fans are saddened by news about celebrities who pass away, these stories frequently have added drama as various heirs fight over the distribution of the estate. These stories remind us that having a well-crafted estate plan is crucial if you hope that your wishes will be carried out upon your passing, and protecting your intended beneficiaries’ interests.
Christopher B. Johnson is a Pasadena probate attorney who has helped families and individuals with estate planning for almost two decades. Should you be ready to establish your estate plan, please contact us for a free consultation. We are here to discuss your options and help you to ensure that your estate is distributed as you envision.
Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Gary Coleman: Celebrity Estate Disputes
Due to errors made in planning the late Robin Williams’ estate, a dispute arose between his widow and his children from his previous marriage, resulting in a protracted court battle which eventually, his widow bowed out of, allowing his children to inherit his estate.
The untimely passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman revealed an estate plan drafted in 2004 which unwisely divided his assets in such a way that federal taxes may, in the end, take a large percentage of the value before his heirs inherit. This is obviously not what the late movie actor would have wanted. Had he been married to his partner, she would have taken home far more of the $35 million estate, as Mr. Hoffman probably intended. Due to the fact that the two never married, federal estate taxes will be imposed on about $30 million of his estate, at a whopping 40 percent.
The late child star Gary Coleman’s estate plan did not intend for his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend to be fighting over his assets, but that’s exactly what happened. Unfortunately, Mr. Coleman did not amend his 2005 will correctly. Coleman purportedly signed a piece of paper amending his will in 2007 after marrying. Soon thereafter, the couple divorced. They continued to live together, but due to the fact that they divorced, the handwritten amendment to his will named his then-spouse as the executor of his will that had been drafted and executed in 2005.
The will had originally named his ex-girlfriend as the executor. The court ruled on the ultimate issue of whether or not the divorced couple had a common-law marriage from 2007 until his death in death in 2010 and found that they did not. The ruling gave his ex-girlfriend the right to be the executor and upheld the will drafted in 2005. A proper codicil to the will would have avoided all the legal problems his intended heirs endured.
Contact An Experienced Pasadena Probate Attorney To Plan Your Estate
Christopher B. Johnson has been practicing probate law and helping Pasadena clients with their estate planning since 1997. His experience and reputation as a knowledgeable Pasadena probate attorney has brought many high net worth families to his practice for guidance in carrying out their testamentary wishes. Please take the time to schedule a free consultation with CBJ Law Office.