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The Big Screen Under The Stars

Hi Everybody,

Happy Wednesday!!!  If you’re looking for a fun summer activity for the family this weekend, be sure to check out the FREE MOVIE NIGHT this Friday, 8/21 on Beaver Pond.  Family Legal Partners has teamed up with the Franklin Recreation Department and the Franklin Downtown Partnership to present Toy Story.  Activities start at 6:30 P.M. and include a meet and greet with Woody and Buzz Lightyear characters, a kid’s hair streaking booth, a marketplace with all of your favorite local vendors, and free popcorn for the first 200 people.  It should be a great event on the big screen!  

Speaking of big screens, this week we will be discussing Celebrity estate planning blunders. For example, what did Heath Ledger and former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger have in common?  Their career choices couldn’t have been more different but in their estate planning, they made similar mistakes — ones that could have been easily avoided.  Heath Ledger made the mistake of not updating his will to provide for his daughter when she was born.  And even though Warren Burger was a Supreme Court Justice, well versed in the law, he made the mistake of writing his own will and costing his family nearly $500,000 in estate taxes!

Here are some more celebrity estate-planning gaffes:

Marilyn Monroe: The Hollywood icon left three-fourths of her estate to her acting teacher, the acclaimed Lee Strasberg. However, when he died, Strasberg’s interest in Marilyn's estate went to his third wife, who had not even known Marilyn. Monroe’s estate was subsequently sold off to a number of branding companies. In 1999, Strasberg’s widow also auctioned off many of Monroe’s belongings, including the gown in which she famously serenaded John F. Kennedy.

It’s doubtful that Monroe would have wanted someone she didn't know to profit so from her estate. A trust could have provided for Strasberg while he was alive and directed the remainder of the estate to another person or charitable organization upon his death.

James Gandolfini: At the time of his untimely death in 2013, the beloved Soprano’s actor was worth around an estimated 70 million dollars. Gandofini left a valid will which split up his money and real estate among friends and relatives, but because he didn’t plan for estate taxes, the IRS reportedly received 55% of the actor’s net worth. 

In Massachusetts, properly planning for estate taxes is especially important.  Did you know the Commonwealth imposes a tax on all estates worth over 1 million dollars? This isn’t such a hard threshold to reach considering you must take into account all money, property, life insurance and retirement funds.  

Etta James: In her final days, the iconic blues singer suffered from many ailments, including dementia. Her husband and son fought in court over the validity of a power of attorney she had signed in the earlier stages of her illness.

These disputes are costly, time-consuming and draining for all involved. Executing a valid power of attorney when you are still in good health can avoid such a battle. However, did you know that a durable power of attorney only allows the appointee to control your financial assets?  Make sure to provide for any healthcare decisions by signing a valid medical proxy. This document allows the appointee to make all medical decisions on your behalf. Keep in mind that these are two completely different documents and different appointees and successors can be named on each.

So, don’t find yourself star struck and without an estate plan that properly provides for your family.  Contact us today to be sure that you are properly protected and to avoid the above celebrity estate- planning mistakes.

Until next time,

Amy