What can we learn from celebrity family disputes?

The late mystery author Tom Clancy’s family is the most recent celebrity dispute in the news. Disagreements over the distribution of assets from a celebrity’s estate seem to occur regularly these days. For example, in the past year alone we have read about Robin Williams and Casey Kasem’s widows fighting with the children of the late entertainers about who gets what and who is to blame for the battles.

In Clancy’s case, in August a judge just ruled against his children, ordering that almost $12 million in estate taxes be paid from their inheritance, amounting to a 41% tax hit for them and relieving the widow of a huge tax obligation.

In my office, we see and help settle disputes like this, involving non-celebrity families, quite often. We know that Estate planning is critical to minimize these unnecessary and expensive arguments.

When there is no planning, family members may eventually suffer financially and have added stress at an already difficult time. During your estate planning process, communication is critical. This needs to be in conjunction with a detailed examination of the hopes and dreams of your loved ones.

As we have seen in the headlines, inadequate planning can ultimately result in a costly, lengthyprobate process in which a court determines the distribution of the deceased’s assets. Whenever the court becomes involved, you never really know what the outcome will be.

That’s one mystery Tom Clancy would not have wanted to create.

We are here to assist you with your estate planning needs and to bring peace of mind to your family members. Please contact me directly if I can answer questions or be of service.