Ultimately, celebrities are not so different from the rest of us in many ways. That’s a lesson we learn all too frequently when a famous person dies and we learn they did not have a valid Will or Trust in place, or that they did but their estate plan was not current at the time of their death. Several notable celebrities died in 2020, with varying levels of planning in place.
When the founder and former CEO of internet retailer Zappos, Tony Hsieh died unexpectedly in 2020, he left behind a messy estate worth an estimated $850 million – with no formal estate plan. His assets reportedly included real estate in multiple states and business interests and contracts documented with sticky notes found in his home.
Sports legend Kobe Bryant died in a tragic helicopter accident in January 2020. While he apparently had created an estate plan to distribute his assets, we learned after his death that the 41-year-old’s Trust did not include his youngest child. One of the benefits of revocable trusts in estate planning is that they typically avoid the need for going to court to distribute assets after the death of the grantor. Unfortunately, Bryant’s out-of-date Trust meant his co-Trustees had to petition the court to amend the Trust agreement.
We have not heard much yet about the estate of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September 2020 – and odds are we will never hear much about it. Assuming she had an up-to-date plan in place, the details of her estate should remain out of the public eye.
There are several takeaways we can glean from these situations. First, if you do not have a Will, Trust, or other estate planning documents in place, start the planning process now. As illustrated by the untimely deaths of Tony Hsieh and Kobe Bryant, accidents can strike at any time; none of us knows when our loved ones will need to rely on our estate plans. It’s also important to ensure your estate plan is up-to-date and reflects your current circumstances and wishes. Had Kobe Bryant done so, it is likely his loved ones could have avoided the extra publicity, hassle, and stress related to having to petition the court to amend his Trust.
Contact us at The Estate Planning & Legacy Law Center today to learn more and to begin or update your own estate plan.