When reviewing the estate plans of public figures, it is clear that their estate planning choices often mirror those of an average person. However, the effects of their decisions are magnified by the level of wealth involved and the amount of public interest generated by their legacies. Because celebrities are widely viewed as beacons of financial success, their missteps and triumphs illustrate the great need for effective estate planning by all.

Some celebrities will neglect to properly tend to their posthumous and end-of-life needs despite having access to seemingly limitless array of resources for assistance. Others take the time to thoughtfully plan their beneficiary designations, advance directives, and the enactment of any other final wishes they may have. Consequently, each of us has the ability to learn from both mistakes and positive examples, lessons which can then be applied to our own lives.

Make Estate Planning Documents Accessible

The location of your estate planning documents (and other vital information) should not be shrouded in mystery. Prince Roger Nelson, whose death occurred in 2016, left behind no will. To this day, his six siblings await a resolution to his estate distribution. This serves as a reminder to take the time to craft a meaningful estate plan rather than leaving your hard-earned estate up to deliberation by a probate court.

Ensure Trusts are Funded

A common estate planning blunder is to create a revocable or irrevocable trust without funding it. In Michael Jackson’s case, an unfunded trust led to disagreements among surviving family members and complications in probate court proceedings. As an added disadvantage, the unfunded trust resulted in additional costs due to court fees on top of a preventably high estate tax.

Consider Charitable Donations

What is the goal of your estate plan? While many plan to leave all assets behind to their loved ones and family members, others may opt to contribute a small or large portion of their estate to a charitable organization. In the event that resources allow for philanthropic giving, you may find this to be a gratifying option to include in your estate plan. George Lucas, Simon Cowell, and Michael Bloomberg are just some of the noteworthy names that have pledged to give back.

Plan with Anticipation

Prior to his untimely passing in March of 2019, beloved actor Luke Perry took the necessary steps to ensure his family and loved ones were left with an easily manageable estate. In addition to a last will and testament, Perry also reportedly created a revocable living trust and Advance Directive as part of his estate plan.

We are all human, and no one is immune to the consequences of insufficient planning. For assistance in creating or updating your Maryland estate plan, we invite you to contact the Law Offices of Elsa W. Smith, LLC at 410-995-7719 to schedule your consultation today.