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Prince, Sinatra Jr., Tom Clancy…What Did They Have In Common? Why Estate Planning Is Essential To Every Family

All 3 died within the past few years, to the chagrin of the adoring public. All 3 were very wealthy, and would pack houses for performances or in Tom Clancy's case, book signings and appearances. They all lived the good life, with mansions, exotic cars and private jets...and all 3 have judges sorting out their unplanned estates to find out who or what will benefit and inherit the mass fortunes of these very wealthy people. All 3 could have had their vast wealth go to those they loved or respected without question or litigation, but thanks to the fact that they were too busy living the high life, their estates are tied up, or will be tied up, for years and years as multiples of law teams battle for a share of the pie for their respective clients...and their own pockets via exorbitant and lofty fees.

Prince, who died very young and with an estate in the hundreds of millions, didn't even have a basic will. Voila- proper and would be heirs popped up from the dust, all claiming a piece or all of his wealth. As of now, it seems it's been narrowed down to his sister, and 5 half siblings as the respective legitimate heirs, but who knows who will claim fights tomorrow?

Sinatra Jr.'s case is interesting- he divorced his wife, but the mansion was so large they continued to live under the same roof. When he died, her philosophy was that since they lived together, by common-law statutes she was entitled to her inheritance even though they were divorced. Sinatra realized before he died this living arrangement wasn't such a good idea, and started legal proceeding against her during his lifetime, and after his death, the battle continues. People need to be sure their actions don't violate the laws, or insinuate things other than what they are. (Writers' note- whew...I just can't imagine a house that big)!

Tom Clancy was a bit more studious to his affairs. His $80 million-dollar estate had a plan for dividing up his money amongst his second wife and two sets of children. The problem here is he did not make clear who was responsible for the taxes, and now, it it's still in the courts trying to figure out how to redistribute the multimillion dollar tax bills. Here he did well for his family by leaving them $80 million- and they're fighting about not paying the taxes. It's never enough...

Let's not forget that estate planning is not just for the older folks. In 2016, Florida Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, age 24, was tragically killed in a boating accident. He was not married, but had a longtime girlfriend who was pregnant. Since they were not married, this poor child -to- be legally has no rights to his/her father's vast fortune. This, in my opinion, is just sad- he apparently had a wonderful life, and due to lack of a marriage license and no estate planning or even a basic will, the estate will be tied up in the courts for years and years.

The moral to the story, as you probably know by now, is to make sure your estate plan and legal documents are up to date. This, I find, is the most serious hole in most clients financial planning. Let's face the very serious fact that you, me...all of us will die at some time or another. Since we don't have an expiration date stamped on our bum, we don't know when our day will come. Please, please please...if you don't have a will and other pertinent legal documents- go to your attorney or give us a call. We have relationships with very qualified estate attorneys who can guide you and we will walk with you every step of the way- either way, get it done. Call us- we're here to help.

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