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Avoid making estate plan mistakes through proper planning

When it comes to life lessons, there are a few lessons to be learned from the lives of certain celebrities. There are also lessons about what not to do based on mistakes exhibited in the estate plans of the rich and famous. While each and every estate plan is unique, as unique as the Michigan family involved, there are easy ways to avoid making mistakes that are similar to some brought to light by the passing of celebrities.

The recent passing of Robin Williams exposed a mistake in how he prepared for his passing and kept up with his estate planning responsibilities. The Hollywood star created trusts to provide for his children's futures, which is a recommended way to leave money behind that allows the amounts and terms to remain private. However, one of the trustees he named was deceased, which meant a court petition needed to be filed by the surviving trustee, resulting in the details of the trust being made public.

Another celebrity, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, chose a different route. In an attempt to avoid leaving his children a chunk of money, Hoffman left his fortune to the children's mother. This move meant his estate needed to go through the time-consuming and tax heavy probate process.

While there is certainly no foolproof way to create and execute an estate plan, sitting down with a professional to outline the best options is advised. What may work for one person may not suit the needs of another person or family. Individual circumstances and wishes essentially mean every estate plan for Michigan families needs individual attention and crafting.

Source:, "Learn from these celebrity estate-planning mishaps", Bonnie Kraham, Nov. 12, 2014

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