Kennelly Business Law

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Bad estate planning and probate choices of the rich and famous

Many people in North Dakota believe that wills and other legal protections are only necessary for people who have a significant amount of money or valuable assets they want to protect. Everyone can benefit from thinking about estate planning and probate issues, regardless of income level and the size of the estate. A person may not be a movie star or a millionaire, but there are lessons to learn by looking at the estate planning mistakes committed by many famous people.

When actor Phillip Hoffman died in 2014, he had a will. However, it was not drafted properly, and it was not updated after the death of his second child. Because of a misunderstanding about the implications of tax laws, it is possible that Mr. Hoffman's beneficiaries could lose up to half of his $35 million estate to taxes. 

Another famous musician had been married for 30 years before he died. However, he and his wife had been separated for three years at the time of his death. He took steps to update his will after their separation, keeping his estranged wife from getting all of his estate if he passed before the divorce was final. By doing this, he was able to have some control over what happened to his property.

It is possible for a North Dakotan to avoid many of the problems brought about by estate planning and probate mistakes. These scenarios illustrate why it is beneficial to work with an experienced attorney from the very beginning of the planning process. With the right help, a person can feel confident in the choices he or she makes for heirs and beneficiaries in the future. 

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