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Estate planning mistakes of the rich and famous

Most Texas residents will never have to worry about a will worth billions of dollars or leaving behind the rights to product royalties to heirs, but celebrity mishaps still show common problems to avoid in the distribution of assets. Large fortunes may be more complicated when it comes to estate planning, but the task is no less essential or fraught with pitfalls for those with more modest assets.

The fortune left by Marilyn Monroe to her acting coach, for instance, provides a valuable lesson in the usefulness of trusts. Lee Strasberg was slated to receive 75 percent of the estate upon Monroe's death. His death shifted this interest to the third wife of Strasberg. The woman has profited by tens of millions of dollars since in sales and auctions and licensing. A trust could have directed the interest to another heir upon Strasberg's death.

Another major blunder may have been averted by advance estate planning and a consideration of tax implications. Steve McNair was a professional football player killed in the midst of his career. Upon his death, the estate was taken into probate. His mother was removed from the home he had bought for her, and his wife had to petition the courts for the right to pay millions in estate taxes.

Estate planning involves wealth protection and will planning through the wise use of legal tools, such as various types of trusts and powers of attorney. Regardless of the size of estate, these tools can ease the burden on a surviving spouse and other heirs by eliminating debt and providing a clear indication of one's final wishes. An attorney experienced in estate planning may be able to help in determining the individual's needs and the most optimal methods for meeting them.

Source: Fox Business, " Monumental Estate Planning Blunders of 5 Celebrities", June 06, 2013

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