We know that it is important to have a Will in place.
You would think celebrities with large estates would plan their estates, but frequently they die intestate. The consequences of not having a valid Will to distribute your property upon your passing can leave your family in a state of confusion and anxiety while they are also dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. Imagine what it does to the families of celebrities.
There are many interesting stories about celebrities who died without a will or trust, leaving a vast fortune in limbo. Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, and Howard Hughes, just to name a few, left their multimillion dollar estates in a mess. Prince protected his music, but not his money, and now there are some 30 people claiming to be Prince’s “love children” stepping forward to claim part of his estate, and this case could be in the courts for years. Jimi Hendrix, who died in 1970, had an estate that was in the courts for 30 years. His estate is further complicated by the fact that, even to this day, his estate is generating income!
Bob Marley died without a will, even though he knew he had cancer and was ill for nearly 8 months. Like Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley’s estate continues to generate significant revenue despite the fact that he died in 1981. His estate, worth a reported $30 million, had dozens of claimants.
Billionaire Howard Hughes died in 1976 at the age of 70. His Will was discovered at the headquarters of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City, but was proved to be a forgery in a Nevada court and his estate was divided among his 22 cousins.
What happens when people die without a Will?
In Texas, even if you don’t have a Will you still have an Estate Plan, because the state will distribute your assets to your heirs. In Texas, your estate will be distributed according to the Texas probate statutes, which describe who gets to inherit from someone who dies without a Will. In your Will, you can name your beneficiaries and disinherit people who would otherwise inherit from you. If your assets are distributed via Texas law, people you may not want to inherit may do so, and people you want to leave a gift to may not be included.
Even though heirs inherit by law when someone does not leave a Will, someone still may need to go to probate court and appear before a judge in order to set out who the legal heirs are and to take care of the distributions and settling the estate. This all costs money, often more than setting up a will or trust, and it can be costly in time as well since heirs may be hard to locate, may have personal difficulties, or may be minors, which can add even further complications.
Moral of the story:
Get your Estate Plan in place and have peace of mind, protect your assets and your beneficiaries, then go forth and enjoy life!