What do Aretha Franklin and Prince have in common? Not only are they both high ranking members of the royal family of music, they both passed away without a Will. Unfortunately, celebrities are not immune to the intricacies of the legal systems governing their estates when they pass away.
When any person, famous or not, passes away without a Will, the assets in their estate pass in accordance with the intestacy laws of the state in which they resided at the time of their death. Assets in a person’s estate includes those which do not have a joint owner, which do not have a listed beneficiary, or those which have not been placed in a trust.
When assets pass in accordance with state intestacy laws, a number of issues may arise. A Will outlines a person’s wishes with regard to how their assets will be distributed upon their passing. Without a Will there is the possibility the estate will be distributed to individuals other than those which the decedent desired. Additionally, there is a very high chance that disputes among surviving family members will arise. These issues can cause the estate administration process to not only be time consuming, but potentially costly.
An alternative to having a Will is to create a Living Trust which will direct the distribution of the assets it holds. The fact that trust assets are managed by a trustee and the distribution terms are outlined within the trust agreement eliminates the need for court intervention upon the decedent’s passing. This is an extremely attractive alternative to celebrities and those individuals who value their privacy. Due to the fact that there is no need for court interference, and thus no need for uninterested individuals to learn the details of the trust, the assets pass quickly and privately, leaving very little potential for disputes among family members.
If you want to avoid becoming a link in the Chain of Fools who let the state determine how their assets should be distributed, call Katz, Smith & Chwat, P.C. today.
Posted in: Estate Planning