People learn by doing and making mistakes is not always a bad thing because you come away with knowledge that you could not otherwise have acquired in such a direct and profound manner. Unfortunately there are some mistakes that you cannot recover from, and errors involving estate planning and otherwise preparing for the eventualities of aging can sometimes fit into this category.
This having been stated, it is possible to learn from the successes and failures of others if you are privy to the details of their estate planning efforts or lack thereof. It may or may not be a good thing in the big picture, but we are constantly inundated with news about the lives of celebrities through the media. As a result, we sometimes hear about situations that provide some insight into what to do what not to do with regard to crafting your legacy.
We have had several examples of this recently. The mercurial British songstress Amy Winehouse passed away a number of months ago, and it was reported that she had an ironclad estate plan in place. She took action after divorcing from her husband Blake Fielder-Civil and it was a good thing that she did because under British law he may have had a valid claim to her estate had she not executed the proper documents.
Incapacity planning is very important as well, and along these lines the news was recently released about 88-year-old billionaire Liliane Bettencourt being deemed incapable of handling her own affairs after giving away over $1 billion to Francois-Marie Banier. She had also reworked her will to make the French photographer her sole heir. The court turned over control of the $23.5 billion fortune to Bettencourt’s daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyer and her two grandsons.
The stakes are especially high for the rich and famous, but things are relative. Every family is important in its own right, and the best way to protect yours is to develop an ongoing relationship with an experienced estate planning attorney who will make sure that your estate plan is always up-to-date and reflective of your current wishes.