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Poorly Drafted Estate Planning Documents Have Scary Unintended Results

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Not having proper estate planning documents can be scary…

With Halloween right around the corner, and knowing how much many of us love the holiday with its spookiness, I thought it might be a good time to scare some of you out of procrastination and into action. I’m sharing some horror stories that happen all too frequently and can continue to haunt your family and loved ones for the remainder of their lives if you fail to have your estate planning documents drafted correctly and updated regularly prior to your death or mental incapacitation.

Few things in life are more frightening and destructive to families than the events that too often occur when legal estate documents are not drafted correctly. Or if they are never drawn up at all.

Hollywood Estate Mistake Horror Stories

Hollywood is a great source for some of these real-life horror stories. In many cases you have great wealth, multiple marriages, children from multiple marriages and most often estates valued in the tens of millions of dollars. Believe me when I tell you, TV stars and movie moguls make the same kind of mistakes that ordinary folks make with the exact same kind of consequences.

Horror Story #1

One of the most recent examples is that of famous TV host Larry King who died earlier this year. His estate wasn’t enormous, just a couple of million. However he was getting divorced from his seventh wife and two of his children had died a year before he did. But, he had not updated his will in years, though according to his son, Mr. King had hand-written a “will” two years prior to his death, which reads as follows: “This is my Last Will & Testament. It should replace all previous writings. In the event of my death, any day after the above date I want 100% of my funds to be divided equally among my children Andy, Chaia, Lary Jr Chance & Cannon.” Larry King.

No trust was established. No estate and asset protection plan was in place. No executor of the estate was named. Apparently, according to one of the sources I read, Mr. King created a will in 2015 in which his seventh wife was named executor. But that will was not updated. Now the 7th wife and the eldest son have locked horns over who should be in charge of the estate and who should get what. The court case could go on for years and could end up costing the King family a significant chunk of the estate they’re feuding over.

Horror Story #2

The celebrated director and producer, John Singleton, slipped into a coma in April of 2019. While he lay unconscious in his hospital bed, his family discovered that Singleton had never created a medical directive or a power of attorney in the event that he should ever become incapacitated.. This sparked a family battle over guardianship. Thirteen days later, when Singleton passed away, the family was horrified to learn that he had never updated his final will, created in 1993.

According to several articles, it has been stated that since the will that was created in 1993, Singleton fathered six more children with different women—but he never updated his will to reflect the additions to his family.

The Singleton estate is estimated at $38 million dollars and because he died with only an outdated will in place – instead of a trust – his estate has to go through probate. With a fortune at stake, there will undoubtedly be infighting and ruined relationships as his family goes to war over their portion of the estate.

Are You Scared Yet

If not, you should be if you haven’t got your end-of-life legal plans properly prepared and in place. If your will hasn’t been updated in years, now’s the time. Procrastination simply never pays when you want to make sure your assets are distributed the way you want them to be upon your passing. Fact is, you never know when things might happen. In Larry King’s case he was 87 when he died from a long, drawn-out battle with cancer. He had time, but apparently no one discussed his end-of-life-plans with him. John Singleton had a stroke at the age of 51, slipped into a coma and died shortly thereafter. None of us are promised a tomorrow, so today is the day to make sure your affairs are in order. Give us a call and we’ll help you avoid horror stories that will haunt your loved ones forever due to poorly drafted estate planning documents.

Oh, and by the way, Happy Halloween!


Looking to find an experienced estate lawyer in the Georgia area who is skilled in asset protection and estate plan preparation? Shannon Pawley is an attorney in Georgia with expertise in estate planning and asset protection. Shannon can provide assistance with creating an estate plan to include making a will and how to establish a trust properly. If you have questions about asset protection or questions about making an estate plan, reach out to Shannon and she will be glad to help answer all the estate planning questions you might have!

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