Celebrities…they’re just like us! Well, not really. But they do have to follow the same estate planning procedures as everyone else. Despite their access to big budget attorneys and nearly limitless resources, celebrities make estate planning mistakes too. This week, we are exploring a handful of those mistakes. Read on to find out more about these celebrity estate planning mistakes and how we can learn from them.

The Personality: Anna Nicole Smith

Estate Planning Mistake: Not Getting Everything Down In Writing

Anna Nicole Smith had a career in modeling, acting, and an overall celebrity personality. However, she is perhaps best known for her marriage to a much older man – approximately six decades older. When her new groom passed away after only a year of marriage, Anna Nicole Smith firmly believed she would inherit a piece of the billion-dollar pie.

After all, why wouldn’t she? Her husband had promised to her that she would. In fact, according to her, her husband even had the paperwork drawn up for it. However, no such paperwork was ever found, let alone a signed adjustment to the will.

A majority of states do not recognize “verbal wills”. There is no way in many cases to confirm such a will. For estate planning documents to be valid they must be in writing. And, usually witnessed. In Florida, wills must be in writing and witnessed by two competent adults. Ultimately though, no signed document usually means no inheritance.

The Personality: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Estate Planning Mistake: Not Adjusting Wills For Children

Philip Seymour Hoffman was an American actor, director, an producer who passed away in 2014 from a drug overdose. Unfortunately, his untimely death caught his family in a bind. It was not until their patriarch passed away that they realized he had not updated his estate planning documents. Hoffman had 3 children, who were born in 2003, 2006, in 2008. Hoffman created his estate planning documents in 2004.

Now it is important to note that attorneys can attach codicils to estate planning documents for their clients that need it. However, with two new children in the picture, Hoffman really should have done a complete overhaul of his plan. In the eyes of the law, Hoffman did not legally recognize his two daughters who were born in 2006 and 2008. Fortunately for them, a New York state law protects the so-called “after born” children. Unless the author of the will specifically excludes children, they are due to an equal share of the estate.

These laws are not the same everywhere, so Hoffman’s two youngest children could have been left out in the cold. Always remember to adjust any estate planning documents in consideration of your offspring. Also remember that unless the author specifically excludes someone, next of kin can always fight for a piece of the estate.

Come Back Next Week

To gather more lessons from celebrity estate planning mistakes