Category Archives: Examples of Good Planning

Gene Wilder’s Struggle With Alzheimer’s Disease Teaches Planning Lesson

The death of Gene Wilder saddened Willa Wonka fans across the globe — not to mention fans of  Blazin’ Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and many others.  When his family issued a statement saying that Alzheimer’s disease claimed his life, it served as a valuable lesson.  Alzheimer’s disease is a killer.  As Wilder’s family aptly described it, it’s an “illness-pirate.”

Gene Wilder's Struggle With Alzheimer'sGene Wilder is far from the first famous actor to fall victim to Alzheimer’s.  Jimmy Stewart, Peter Falk, Charlton Heston, and Rita Hayworth are just a few others.  And of course the disease has attacked celebrities from many different industries, including Hollywood producers like Aaron Spelling, politicians like Ronald Reagan, singers like Etta James and Glen Campbell, and sports celebrities like basketball coach Pat Summitt and ball manager Sparky Anderson.

Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  It always leads to death.  While the official cause-of-death for most celebrities who suffered from the disease is usually listed as another affliction, such as a pneumonia or sepsis, Alzheimer’s disease Read more...

| Leave a comment

The David Bowie Estate Shows His Genius Extended Beyond Music

Only a very few pop artists enjoyed careers as diverse, colorful, and successful as David Bowie.  He remained fascinating and on the cutting-edge, up until the very end, in ways that extended far beyond making music.  David Bowie Estate

Bowie, whose real name was David Robert Jones (and who didn’t want to be confused with Davy Jones), passed away from liver cancer a mere two days after the release of his latest album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday.  Knowing that his cancer was terminable, many people believe Bowie intended his last album — featuring lyrics about mortality — to be a farewell.  In fact, the tract, Lazurus, begins with the line, “Look up here, I’m in heaven,” and ends with, “Oh, I’ll be free … Just like that bluebird … Oh, I’ll be free … Ain’t that just like me?”

It’s fair to say there was no one else like David Bowie.  He was truly one-of-a-kind, from his iconic music, various personas, and his ever-adapting image, to his finances.

David

Read more...
| Leave a comment

Mark Zuckerberg And His Charitable Plan Deserve Praise, Not Scorn

As if founding Facebook  and reaching #16 on Forbes’ ranking of the world’s billionaires wasn’t impressive enough, Mark Zuckerberg – along with his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan — is out to change the world for generations to come.  But not everyone thinks his motives are pure.  Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg and Chan announced their decision to transfer 99% of their Facebook stock to a new charitable-based venture called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.  This will do this through a new limited liability company, with the stated purpose to “to join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation.”  The stock will be handed over throughout their lifetimes, with no more than one billion dollars in stock gifted or sold annually for the next three years, according to a recent Facebook filing with the SEC.  Zuckerberg and Chan write that the value of the stock, presently, is about $45 billion, but that will likely grow over time considering their youth (Zuckerberg is Read more...

| Leave a comment

Will Prenuptial Agreement Protect Kaley Cuoco From Ryan Sweeting’s Support Request?

The news broke earlier this week that the divorce proceeding between Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco and professional tennis player Ryan Sweeting just became a great deal more complicated than originally reported.

Kaley Cuoco and Ryan Sweeting

Kaley Cuoco and Ryan Sweeting

Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising.  After all, Cuoco recently was named as Forbes’ highest paid TV actress for 2015 (in a tie with Sofia Vergara), with $28.5 million in earnings, including an impressive payday of one million dollars per episode.  Comparatively, Sweeting  — who boasts only one career tournament win and has been battling injuries — has an estimated net worth of only two million dollars, about $42 million less than Cuoco’s reported net worth.

So why should anyone be surprised that the spouse worth less is asking for financial support from the big bread winner?

Kaley Cuoco Divorcing Ryan Sweeting and More

Kaley Cuoco played a smart game from the start. Even though she and Ryan Sweeting were married after only six months of dating, Cuoco and Sweeting had a prenuptial Read more...

| Leave a comment

Celebrity Legacies: Elizabeth Taylor’s Estate Sets Gold Standard

Elizabeth Taylor is known for many things: her successful acting career, recognition as perhaps the ultimate icon of Hollywood glitz and glamour, standing up as a champion for AIDS research, her popular perfume, and, of course, her string of failed marriages.  Elizabeth Taylor's Estate

Failed nuptials aside, almost everything Liz Taylor touched turned to gold.  But what about her estate? Did she prepare her estate with the same high standards as the rest of her life?

This is installment #11 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.

Despite early reports that Taylor’s family may fight over her estate, her estate has been just the opposite:  peaceful.  No probate filing, no copies of her will or trust published on the web, and no court battles.

In fact, almost four years after her death at the age of 79, very little is publicly known about Elizabeth Read more...

| Leave a comment

Celebrity Legacies: Farrah Fawcett’s Face Launches A War

When someone mentions Farrah Fawcett, most people think of her looks.  But what about her brains — her financial savvy in particular?  The actress and model who rose to fame as one of Charlie’s Angels planned well to protect her troubled son, Redmond, after she passed away.  Yet all was not angelic when it came to her financial legacy.  Andy Warhol Farrah Fawcett painting

This is installment #9 of our Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.

Farrah Fawcett was far from the stereotypical blonde model when it came to finances.  She was hired to do five seasons of Charlie’s Angels, by Aaron Spelling’s production company.  After the first season hit it big, Fawcett re-negotiated for more money.  Relying on the fact that she never actually signed the contract, she was able to secure an increase in per-episode salary from $5,000 to $100,000.

Fawcett’s savvy definitely came Read more...

| Leave a comment

Joan Rivers Protected Her Family With Good Estate Planning

Joan Rivers was widely respected for her sense of humor, work ethic, and willingness to say almost anything for a laugh.  When it came to planning her estate, Rivers treated it as no laughing matter.  joan rivers estate planning

Joan Rivers’ last will and testament was signed on November 16, 2011.  A thorough and well-drafted legal document, her will named a living trust as her beneficiary.

Specifically, Joan Rivers, whose full legal name was Joan R. Rosenberg, signed the Rosenberg Family Trust on the same day as the will.  The will directed that all of her estate assets were to be distributed to that trust.

Melissa Rivers to Inherit Over $100 million of Joan Rivers Estate

Interestingly, the final version of Joan’s trust was far from her first.  In fact, the will stated that her trust was actually the 11th amendment of the original trust, and the third complete restatement.  This means that the original Rosenberg Family Trust was changed, many times over, and rewritten completely three times (not counting the original version).  When Read more...

| Leave a comment

Top 10 Celebrity Stories To Spark Holiday Estate Planning Conversations

Sure the holidays are a fun time for families to sit around talking about what happened on walking deadthe latest episode of The Walking Dead or how granddaughter Mary is doing in dance class.  But they are also a great time to have the important — yet often difficult — conversations about estate planning.  What happens when Mom dies?  Does anyone know where Dad kept his will?  Did they ever transfer the investment accounts into their revocable living trust like they were supposed to?

Many families don’t ask these tough questions … especially when dynamics are strained, like in many second-marriage families or when siblings don’t get along well.  It certainly isn’t easy to blurt out after passing the gravy, “Hey Dad, does your will put me or your wife in charge of your estate?”

But these conversations are important.  When the proper estate planning isn’t done, it’s the family members left behind who pay the price, often with bitter, ugly, and costly probate court battles.  They happen to families all Read more...

| Leave a comment

Celebrity Stories Are A Great Way To Start The Estate Planning Talk

MarketWatch.com recently featured an interesting article about the benefits that families gain by having the estate planning conversation early.  Not only does it improve family relationships, it helps sets the stage and prepares family members for facing the difficult issues caused by a loved one who ages or passes away.

Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights!

Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!

The article noted how a UBS Wealth Management study recently found that only 43% of affluent Americans felt that having this conversation with their heirs was a pressing issue.  That’s surprising because experts predict that between now and the year 2050, the largest wealth transfer in U.S. history will occur:  a whopping 30 trillion dollars.

The problem is that having this conversation is seldom easy.  Who wants to sit around talking about legal and financial planning for when someone dies or becomes incapacitated?  Most family members are too busy with the stress of their daily work and personal routines to worry about talking to loved ones about death and dying.

While the MarketWatch article Read more...

| Leave a comment

Joan Rivers Teaches Lesson About Termination Of Life Support

“I ain’t afraid of death.”  Joan Rivers once told Time Magazine, “I’m in show business.  I died a million times.”  Joan Rivers

Aging.  Dying.  Death.  Concepts no one likes to think about, much less talk about.  Of the many fatal tragedies the celebrity world has suffered lately — Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams, and Casey Kasem, to name a few — perhaps none shook people to the core as much as the passing of Joan Rivers.

Even at 81 years old, her death seemed to take everyone off-guard. Except maybe Joan Rivers herself.  While on stage for the final time, she told the audience how she could die at any minute.  And a few weeks ago, she posted on her Twitter account:

Two Big Brother contestants have had grandparents die this season. I’m a little upset… Cooper [her grandson] just submitted an audition tape.

Joan Rivers Dies At Age 81 – A Look At Her Life

So why was Joan Rivers’ death so shocking?  Maybe it was her zest, vibrancy, and attitude Read more...

| Leave a comment