The 2014 Oscars are complete. Trial & Heirs looks back at past Oscar winners like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor, Heath Ledger, Frank Sinatra, and Marlon Brando. Their estates illustrate important estate planning lessons that everyone can benefit from — even those who aren’t walking the red carpet at the Oscars.
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman Estate Planning Lesson: You Can Be Creative With Your Will or Trust
There were many mistakes and pitfalls with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate (including no estate tax planning and his failure to use a revocable living trust, as we discuss in our article). But, Hoffman — whose portrayal of Capote earned him the Best Actor Oscar in 2006 — didn’t do everything wrong.
He gets credit for a key component of estate planning that many people overlook: creativity. Estate planning is not meant to be “fill in the blank” or “one-size fits all.” You can use your will or trust to pass along your goals, values and moral beliefs. Most people think wills and trusts Read more...
Oscar-winning actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, died on February 2nd from a drug overdose. Recently, his long-time girlfriend and mother of his three children, Marianne O’Donnell, filed to open Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate and to probate his will. While there are many lessons that can be drawn from his will, there are four main estate planning pitfalls that serve as important lessons:
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman Should Have Created A Revocable Living Trust.
The reason that Hoffman’s will is public and available for anyone to read (you can click here to read it for yourself), is because he relied on a will — and only a will — for his estate plan. For most people with even a modest estate, revocable living trusts are critical.
Why? When properly used, they help families avoid the costs, aggravation, and delays caused by the probate process. Probate court proceedings are public record (meaning anyone can read the will — even your nosy neighbor!), and are expensive, difficult to maneuver without an attorney, and Read more...
Paul William Walker IV was the star of the Fast & Furious movies, until his unfortunate — and ironic — death in a high-speed car accident on November 30, 2013. The car, in which Walker was a passenger, was found to have been doing at least 100 mph. Walker was 40 years old when he died, survived by his parents and his 15-year old daughter, Meadow Rain Walker.
Recently, Paul Walker’s father filed to open the estate, including Walker’s Last Will and Testament, which you can read here: Read Paul Walker’s Will. It sheds some interesting information about the Paul Walker Estate and highlights some valuable estate planning lessons.
First, the probate filing and will reveal that Walker had assets of about 25 million dollars, including 8 million in personal property (which would include cash and investments), $8.5 in expected income, and another $8.5 million in real estate (after subtracting mortgages).
Second, the filing shows that Walker had a revocable living trust, benefiting his daughter as the sole Read more...
Perhaps this tale should be unsurprising considering it involves heirs of the tabloid fortune built around the concept: “Inquiring minds want to know!” Two of the heirs of the tabloid founder, Generoso Pope, have engaged in dueling lawsuits for years — culminating in allegations of kidnapping, fraud, extortion, and even an arrest for criminal stalking. All between a son and his mother.
The National Enquirer
Generoso Pope was the founder of the National Enquirer. He died in 1988, leaving behind a will and trust that called for the company to be sold. Generoso’s youngest son, Paul Pope, desperately wanted to buy and run the tabloid, but was unable to raise enough money. Reportedly, it sold for $412.5 million, with $200 million going to Lois Pope — Generoso’s widow and Paul’s mother — and $20 million for each of the four children, including Paul.
National Enquirer Heirs Feud
According to Paul, about $186 million from the estate funded a marital trust created by Generoso. As would be typical of Read more...
Sam Simon is a co-creator and executive producer of the longest running scripted primetime show ever: The Simpsons. Simon, however, clashed with the other Simpsons’ creators and left the show in 1993, after only four seasons. Co-creator Matt Groening called Simon and “brilliantly funny” but “unpleasant and mentally unbalanced.” D’Oh!
In hindsight, Simon should also be described as a brilliant businessman. He negotiated to keep executive producer credits for the show and a share of The Simpson’s profits each year, including the highly-lucrative home media distribution. So despite having left the show 20 years ago, Simon is still listed as an executive producer on each episode. And his profits keep rolling in, year after year.
Interestingly, Simon appears embarrassed by how much money he still receives — tens of millions of dollars each year, as he’s revealed in media interviews. He’s said it’s far more money than he could ever need. Because Simon is divorced, and has no children (although he is engaged), Simon says his family members are already Read more...
James Gandolfini, who won three Emmy awards portraying mob-boss Tony Soprano for eight years on HBO’s The Sopranos, died on June 19th. That day, he was touring Rome with his 13-year old son, Michael, when he suffered the sudden and fatal heart attack.
Gandolfini had parlayed his acting success into a reported net worth of $70 million. Last December, he had the foresight to sign a new Last Will and Testament. Gandolfini also had created at least one trust — and perhaps more — as referenced in his will. While it would appear at first blush that Gandolfini did the proper estate planning, the recent revelation of his will (which you can read here) shows otherwise.
To put it bluntly, James Gandolfini’s estate is a mess. Gandolfini failed to do the proper tax planning that would have enabled his estate to avoid — or at least reduce and delay — paying estate taxes. As reported by the New York Daily News, Gandolfini’s planning failure subjects 80% of Read more...
Do you know a family who is arguing over an estate after a loved one has passed away? Whether it’s someone facing a possible probate court battle, wondering about contesting a will, or confused over how a family trust is being handled, finding an early solution before fighting erupts is critical.
Through the years, Danielle and Andy Mayoras have worked with too many families embroiled in estate and probate conflicts to count. As a result, they’ve started a new project based on their commitment to help families find resolutions outside of probate court and without spending money on attorneys.
Danielle and Andy are authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, which uses true stories of celebrity estate errors to teach people how to protect their heirs. As Forbes contributors, Danielle and Andy regularly analyze celebrity stories to provide lessons for families across the country.
The husband-and-wife duo now wants to combine their legal expertise to help select families even more. Danielle is an estate planning and elder law Read more...
Arturo Gatti, the former world-champion boxer, died violently while on vacation in Brazil, in 2009. His wife, Amanda Rodrigues Gatti, was arrested for murder, only to be released after the police ruled the death a suicide. Now, almost four years later, Brazilian authorities have re-opened the investigation and the case may soon return to court.
It’s the latest chapter in a long line of legal struggles that started after Arturo Gatti’s death. Gatti’s mother, brother, and the mother of his first child have always believed that Rodrigues was responsible for his death. Gatti was found strangled by Rodrigues’ purse strap, and she reportedly was in the room with his body for ten hours without realizing he was dead.
Rodrigues has consistently maintained that Gatti committed suicide. She points out that autopsies have been done in both Brazil and Montreal — where the couple lived — and both determined that Gatti killed himself.
Arturo Gatti’s Death
But that has been only part of the controversy. The other family members Read more...
The battle over the James Brown estate, the Godfather of Soul, started not long after James Brown died of heart failure and pneumonia on Christmas Day, 2006, at the age of 73. Now, more than six years later, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that may finally lay the epic feud to rest.
James Brown, February 1973, Musikhalle, Hamburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Brown left behind a detailed will and trust, dated August 1, 2000. He wanted his personal and household effects divided between six adult children, the sum of two million dollars set aside in trust to pay for the education of his grandchildren, with the rest passing into a charitable trust. Specifically, he directed that the majority of his assets would be used to pay education expenses and assistance to benefit poor children and young adults who attended schools in either South Carolina or Georgia.
Brown was both physically and mentally strong when he signed his estate planning documents. His legal documents included clear instructions Read more...
Chicago businessman Urooj Khan jumped for joy when he learned he had the winning numbers for a million-dollar lottery drawing last summer. Too bad he never had a chance to enjoy it. He was murdered days before he was going to receive the $425,000 lump-sum, after-tax winnings.
Urooj Khan / Illinois Lottery
Originally, the 46-year-old’s death was ruled natural, due to hardening of the arteries. Later a family member — unidentified so far — raised suspicions with the police that led to testing blood and tissue samples. The results came back positive for cyanide. Police reclassified the death as a homicide.
Khan’s body was recently exhumed, several months after he was originally buried, so more testing could be done to help police learn more about his cause of death. So far, they haven’t named a suspect. However, Khan’s brother isn’t waiting for the police to do so. He’s already spoken out.
Urooj Khan lottery local news video
Urooj Khan’s brother, Imtiaz Khan, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he has suspicions Read more...