Celebrity Deaths in 2020: And the Six Estate-Planning Lessons We Can Learn – Estate planners are often shocked to hear that wealthy celebrities have passed intestate, without a will or trust. This is especially true, since wealthy celebrities have the financial resources available to keep estate planning documents up to date.
Below are few of the wealthy celebrities that died in 2020 with a discussion on what we can learn from their mistakes or successes in estate planning.
Tony Hsieh (1973-2020): $850 million
Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos passed away after a fire broke out in one of his homes. Hsieh’s critical mistakes in estate planning have become a popular topic of conversation. Hsieh died without a will, but left thousands of sticky notes representing potential business deals and financial commitments pasted all over his mansion in Utah. Hsieh owned multiple properties in different states and it is unclear exactly what type of property they are in regard to estate distribution.
Kobe Bryant (1978-2020): $600 million
Kobe was known for his elite basketball skills, but he was also known as a “savvy businessman, brand-builder, and investor.” Kobe did have an estate plan in place at his death, which protected his assets, reduced tax-liability, and passed his wealth to his family members. However, Kobe did not get around to updating his estate plan after the birth of his daughter who was six months old at the time of his death.
Due to this oversight, the trustees of the Kobe Bryant Trust had to petition the court to fix the oversight, which made the trust and its terms public record, destroying the secrecy of the estate plan.
Kobe’s mother-in-law also became enraged when she found out she was not taken care of under the will alleging that Kobe had promised to do so, and for the rest of her life.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020) $5–7 million
Not much is known about RBG’s estate, but probably for good reason. Typically, when an estate plan is done correctly, the details are not spread all over the media. Thus, it is assumed that the Supreme Court Justice and pioneer for equality had her affairs in order prior to her death.
The lessons to be learned are:
- Make an estate plan
- Update your estate plan
- Minimize family disputes and honor your promises
- Avoid unnecessary administrative expenses
- Honor charitable giving, and
- No news is good news.
Article Written by: Gerry W. Beyer
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