Although Estate Planning is not only for the uber-rich, the errors made by the wealthy individuals in the public eye can provide a lesson for us all. As we examine a recent case, we are reminded why attorneys recommend that we keep our Trust and Will updated as our assets and family dynamics change and we may wish to employ more appropriate strategies.
Singer Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown passed away in July of 2015. As you may know, Bobbi Kristina was the sole beneficiary of her mother’s estate.
When Whitney Houston died in 2012, her daughter (then age 19) inherited her $20 million estate. As is commonly done, the inheritance was left in Trust for her daughter, and scheduled to be distributed when Bobbi Kristina reached the ages of 21, 25 and 30. You might ask, what’s wrong with that?
Apparently, the Will was 19 years old at the time of Houston’s death. Perhaps if it had been reviewed on a regular basis, the terms and conditions could have been updated if a beneficiary’s medical issues and problematic life choices become evident, extending some of the distributions until later in life when a beneficiary might have be more mature and better able to direct their inheritance wisely.
Some questions to ask yourself, to determine if your Living Trust or Will may need to be updated:
1. Has there been a change in my family situation?
2. Has the size of my estate changed?
3. Is my newly acquired property properly titled in the name of my Living Trust?
4. Are beneficiary designations current?
Although you may not be a favorite target of the paparazzi, you still need a regular review and update of your Estate Planning documents.