As copywriters well know, when you reference learning in a headline, readers’ interest tends to perk up. Add a mention to the “rich and famous,” and you really generate interest. So, “Lessons of the Rich and Famous . . . in Death” about estate planning caught my attention.
Given so many stories of family feuds and financial disasters, it’s surprising that most Americans don’t have an estate plan. In fact, the article notes that many of our past Presidents died without estate plans, including Presidents Lincoln, Johnson, Grant and Garfield. Notably, President Lincoln, although he was a practicing attorney, left such a financial mess that it took two years to settle his estate.
The article also addresses perhaps the most famous case of a celebrity dying intestate. When the handwritten will of Howard Hughes was determined to be forged, it took 34 years to divide Hughes’ $2.5 billion estate among 22 cousins. And then there was James Brown, who tried to leave his $100 million fortune to a special trust set up to benefit needy children. However, because he never addressed the plan with his family or updated his will after his fourth marriage, much of his wealth was lost in legal battles.
The article closes by praising Elvis for leaving the building with a solid estate plan. Elvis Presley had not only a will, but testamentary trusts to provide for his family long after his passing. You can improve on The King’s handling of his affairs by having the appropriate documents drafted – and discussing your wishes with your heirs.
As a side note to our peak into the lives of the rich and famous, I read recently where Mick Jagger’s former financial advisor, Prince Rupert Loewenstein, has written a book, A Prince Among Stones. Apparently, Loewenstein, who is credited for having a hand at keeping the Rolling Stones together for 40 years, divulges more of Mick Jagger’s personal finances than the Stones’ front man likes. Commented Jagger to The Mail Online, “Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think your ex-bank manager should be discussing your financial dealings and personal information in public.” The book hits the shelves in a few weeks.