Lessons From Celebrities’ Poor Estate Planning

Celebrities who pass leave us with a memory of their talent, yet, sometimes also a lesson from the public chaos involving their estates.  A Forbes article highlights some lessons learned from celebrities.

Take for example, Sonny Bono died in a skiing accident at age 62 without a will.  His ex-wife and child from out of wedlock made claims.

Lesson: Get a will drafted when you have kin and an ex.

Jimmi Hendrix died at age 27 without  a will.  His brother, with whom he was close, received nothing under intestate laws.

Lesson: Get a will drafted when you have a family member, who under intestate laws, would not receive the bulk of your estate.

Stieg Larsson, famous author of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, died, leaving his longtime girlfriend of 32 years.

Lesson: Get a will drafted when you are unmarried and want your partner to receive your estate.

The estate of Marlon Brando, Godfather actor, was contested by a woman.  She eventually settled with the executor’s of the estate.

Lesson: State your intentions, clearly, in writing in a will to decrease chances of your will being contested.

Princess Diana wrote her intentions with the distribution of some personal trinkets in a letter.  The intended recipients only received a small amount of what Di wrote in her letter.

Lesson: Get a will or living trust properly drafted by an attorney to ensure your intended distribution of personal belongings are carried out properly.

Copyright 2013 The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLC. Disclaimer: This page is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued.




Washington State First Responders’ Will Clinic September 14

The Filutowski Law Firm will be offering its estate planning services pro bono on September 14 in Seattle.  The clinic is available to all Washington state First Responders who:

  1. are Washington state residents;
  2. are either:
    • current or retired members (including surviving spouses and registered domestic partners) of the LEOFF 1, LEOFF 2, WSPRS 1, and WSPRS 2 retirement systems; or
    • current or retired reserve police officers or volunteer firefighters as defined under Chapter 41.24
  3. have assets that do not exceed $750,000 (if single), or $1.5 million (if married);
  4. make their appointments online in advance of coming to the clinic; and
  5. complete and bring this estate planning questionnaire to their appointments.

The Washington State Bar Association will clinic will be held on Saturday, September 14, from 8am until 4pm at the Starbucks Headquarters located at 2401 Utah Ave S, Seattle.  We hope to see you there!

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Why Do I Need A Will, You Ask?

drafting will filutowski law While most in their 20s and early 30s are figuring out careers and trying to build a life, few are contemplating where they will be in 55+ years and how to designate the affairs of their estate.  More than 50% of adults report that they do not have a will or any estate planning document. So why should you?  Well, because it is best to be prepare for those you care about in the event of the “worst case scenario.”

Probate: Intestate Distribution

Absent a will, a state’s rules will dictate how your assets are distributed among your family; this is called intestate distribution (or intestacy).  Like every state, Washington state has its own unique intestate distribution laws.



Reasons Why A Will May Be A Good Idea For You and Your Loved Ones

So if you would like to avoid a family feud and just make it easier for everyone, you should get some documents drafted.  Not convinced? Consider also:

1. If you have children or pets, wouldn’t you like to safely and calmly plan who will care for your them?

2. If you have a partner,  husband or wife, a girlfriend or boyfriend, don’t you want to ensure they are taken care of in your absence?

3. If you own a condo or house, do you want it to go back to the bank, or specifically indicate which family members or friends get a share(s) in your home?

4. If you have money in a bank account (checking, savings or money market stocks) and/or retirement account, whether it be a 401K, SERPA or IRA, you can specify who or what (e.g., charity organization) will receive the money.  Yes, you can list “beneficiary” on the account form, but a will or irrevocable trust supersedes the form and absolves any confusion that may arise through intestate distribution.

5. You have material things that are important, such as family heirlooms, furniture, jewelry, clothing, etc., and would prefer to have it distributed to people you love who will appreciate it rather than auctioned off at an estate sale.

6.  You have a  car, a boat or a jet ski or any motorized watercraft or vehicle, and can designate who will receive it.

7. You have various electronics (e.g., iphone, ipad, laptop, mp3 player, etc.), and want to designate who receives them.

8.  You have digital photo albums and/or valuable documents, such as a Picasa Photo Album, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or DropBox or other cloud computing account with documents, or the digitized items are just saved on your computer, you want to ensure how those items are handled and/or distributed.

Now that you may be convinced you need to plan your estate, read here for a couple other estate planning options: a living will (instead of the last will) and an irrevocable trust.

Copyright 2013 The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLC.  Disclaimer: This post is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued by reading this post. If you would like further information regarding the matters discussed herein, you may post a comment. If you need a consultation on a legal matter, contact Alexandra Filutowski.