A properly handled estate plan is incredibly valuable, whether your estate is modest or star worthy. A comprehensive plan can mean the difference between an expensive and unnecessary court process for your loved ones or an easy transition that takes place in your lawyer’s office and allows your family time to grieve in peace.
When a high profile celebrity passes away, even as we mourn their loss, we can learn about estate planning when using their circumstances as a case study. Carrie Fisher is one of the celebrities whose proactive yet faulty planning gives us an excellent example to illustrate some key points that are important for you to understand for your family. Even though Carrie Fisher worked with some of the best and most expensive lawyers in Los Angeles and she had created a trust to hold her assets, her estate plan didn’t work to its full potential in our opinion.
What caused the problem? Fisher’s lawyer created a trust for her, but never ensured Fisher’s assets were transferred, or funded, into the Trust. Unfortunately, we see this all the time when clients come to us with previously prepared estate plans. They’ve got beautiful documents that will not work when their families need them because their assets were never properly inventoried and transferred.
Fisher’s death brings this major issue in estate planning to light. Because of this oversight, Fisher’s Trustee, Dennis King, had to file a petition in probate court seeking to have Fisher’s assets transferred into her trust. In our opinion, a major purpose of a trust is to keep our client’s assets private and out of court, hence why we view Fisher’s estate planning as incomplete.
Because Fisher’s Trust was not properly funded, all of her assets and who will receive them have been made public. As a result, we know that Fisher left her estate to her daughter, Billie Lourd, and that it included cash accounts, several LLCs, real estate, a life insurance policy, personal belongings, and intellectual property rights. Having this information public leaves Lourd at risk to unscrupulous parties who now have access to details they wouldn’t otherwise know.
This is exactly why a key part of our planning process is a thorough inventory of your assets, ensuring your assets are transferred into your trust, and then a review of your assets and planning documents at least every three years, if not annually. Proper estate planning can keep your family out of court and save your family precious time and money in the process. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, start by sitting down with us, your Personal Family Lawyer®. If you already have a plan in place, contact us to have it reviewed to make sure that it will work as you need it to when it is called upon.
This article is a service of Levi Alexander, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
Photo by Miriam Espacio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/blue-pink-and-white-andromeda-galaxy-way-110854/