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Estate planning lessons from celebrities

Minnesota residents may sometimes learn important estate planning lessons when coverage is devoted to the death of a wealthy or famous individual. These stories often focus primarily on the size of the estate in question, but they can also highlight just how damaging estate planning mistakes can be.

One of the most common estate planning blunders is putting off making important decisions or drafting a will, and the death of "The Soprano's" star James Gandolfini showed the potential cost of such an error. Gandolfini died with his estate plan incomplete, and media outlets were quick to point out that taxes and fees would therefore consume more than half of the actor's $75 million estate.

Failure to update an estate plan can lead to bitter disputes among heirs, and this was illustrated when the actor Heath Ledger passed away. Ledger died without adding his daughter to his will, which resulted in a costly and public legal battle. Joan Rivers was one celebrity who managed to avoid such pitfalls. The actress updated her will regularly, and the prudent use of trusts kept the details of her estate plan confidential.

Many people find it difficult to think about matters such as wills and estate plans, and this is especially true among those who are young and in good health. An attorney with experience in this area could explain how tackling these important decisions can provide peace of mind, and they may also point out that goal of an estate plan is to provide the maximum benefit to heirs while avoiding unnecessary conflict and tax exposure.

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Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates

Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates LLC
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