Estate planning errors high-asset Missouri residents must avoid

Those residents of Saint Charles who have been able to amass considerable assets during the course of their life understand that if they wish to leave those assets to their next generation without a multitude of legal complications, they must have a thorough estate plan in place before their demise. However, despite this fairly well-known rule, many high-profile people, including some celebrities, have committed estate planning mistakes, which have cost their family members dear.

For example, actor James Gandolfini of the Sopranos fame failed to do proper tax planning, which could have saved his family from losing millions of dollars in estate taxes. According to reports, Gandolfini's inadequate estate planning cost his family members an estimated $30 million is taxes and bills. Therefore, having a clear idea about estate tax implications is one area that every individual must pay special attention to at the time of drafting an estate plan.

Another possible area of mistakes in estate planning is trust creation. For example, comedian Robin Williams left his assets in a trust fund for his three children. Nonetheless, when one of the co-trustees died, the trust became public and the privacy, which Williams had hoped for his children, did not materialize. Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman made a similar mistake. He did not want to leave his fortune in a trust and let his children have easy access to it upon maturity. Instead, he gave away his assets to his long-time girlfriend and the mother of his children, which forces an estate to pass through probate and pay all estate taxes. In both these cases, a thorough understanding of estate laws could have helped the deceased as well as the beneficiaries.

Finally, not updating the estate plan is the mistake that writer/director Michael Crichton committed. The famous author amassed a huge fortune but his inability to write a comprehensive estate plan meant that his wife and children from an earlier marriage engaged in a legal battle for determining who gets to inherit Crichton's fortunes. These are some examples of how estate planning can take unexpected and complicated turns. Therefore, it may be a wise decision to seek legal counsel so that the entire process can be smoothly completed.

Source: The Epoch Times, "4 Lessons from Celebrities Who Messed Up Their Estate Planning Big Time," Tommy Wyher, Jan. 23, 2015

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