It's shocking how many rich and famous people make mistake and after mistake, which often leads to heirs fighting over inheritances. But, it's not only the rich. Everyday across the country, people from all walks of life make the exact same mistakes time and time again. The only difference is the dollar amounts that they're fighting over.
Sometimes celebrities do get it right and we love to share those stories as well. In fact, recently, singer Amy Winehouse tragically passed away at the young age of 27. Almost immediately, people worried that her fortune (which has been valued at differing amounts ranging from $15 million to $30 million) would pass to her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil.
Fielder-Civil is currently in prison for burglary and related crimes and is often blamed for allegedly introducing Winehouse to hard drugs which likely had a hand in her early demise (although the exact cause has not yet been determined).
Recently, the United Kingdom's Daily Mail reported that Winehouse did take the proper steps after her 2009 divorce from Fielder-Civil to make sure that her family — and not her ex — would inherit her fortune. The article was short on details and speculated she updated her will. But it was clear that Fielder-Civil was out of the financial picture.
A "close friend" quoted in the Daily Mail article was very confident that Winehouse did take care of her affairs and made sure her assets and her legacy would pass onto her family members, including her mother, father and older brother. It's too bad that most people aren't as careful as Winehouse. Given that two-thirds of American adults don't even have a simple will, it's refreshing that someone as young as Winehouse had the foresight to take care of her estate planning.
And, as this story shows, it's not enough to do the proper estate planning; it has to be updated after life events as well. The name "Last Will and Testament" is a little misleading. It is only your "last will" until it is time to update it again. This is especially important after births, deaths, marriages, and — that's right — divorces too. So many people get too caught up in the emotional and financial difficulty of divorces; they don't stop to think about changing their wills, trusts and beneficiary designations.
This is a great time for financial advisors to work with their clients and remind them how important it is to update estate planning documents and review the named beneficiaries on insurance policies, investment accounts, IRAs, 401(k)s, and more.
Danielle and Andy Mayoras are co-authors
of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!
The husband-and-wife legacy expert attorneys
also hosted the national TV special,
Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune!