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Simple mistakes can lead to chaos for an estate plan

Many people might not give too much of their time and energy to thinking about the estate planning process. However, having a comprehensive estate plan long before it is needed is the best way to ensure that a Michigan family is properly cared for. However, if an estate plan isn't updated or adjusted as needs arise, it can be just as useless as not having one at all.

Recently, a few noted details about the estate plans of a few celebrities brought a few common mistakes to light. One mistake noted was how Philip Seymour Hoffman stated that he didn't want trust-fund kids just living off his money. He decided to then leave money for the care of his children with their mother, whom he had never married. Because he wasn't married to her and there was no trust set up, she has had to go through the probate process to get access to funds, costing her time and money.

Michael Crichton composed an estate plan that stated that no future children would be able to inherit any of his fortune. However, at the time of his death, he had a pregnant wife and he also had an adult daughter from another marriage. His pregnant wife had to go to court and try to secure an inheritance for the child she had after Crichton died.

Whether the decisions of deceased celebrities that have been outlined and made public were truly mistakes or misguided advice may never really be known. However, one thing is clear and that is the fact that, if life circumstances change, an estate plan may need to be modified or updated to include new beneficiaries or change how funds are distributed. An estate plan should be done early in life and should also be fluid as need be. Anyone in Michigan who has not completed an estate plan or who hasn't updated a plan after life events may want to investigate more about the process and their options.

Source: forbes.com, "Lessons Celebrities Can Teach Retirees About Estate Planning", Thomas and Robert Fross, Sept. 16, 2014

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