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What you can learn from celebrity probates

If you've been putting off discussing matters of your estate with your spouse or other loved ones, you might change your mind and want to get the ball rolling after you read this post. It's understandable that many people in Florida and elsewhere hesitate to talk about estate planning because it has to do with mortality. However, quite a few celebrities have died in the past few years who made the mistake of not having a signed estate plan in place.

The results have led to lengthy probate litigation and other stressful issues for those closest to them. Reviewing such cases can show you how beneficial it is to execute a thorough estate plan and to keep it updated. You don't have to be an expert on such matters because you can seek guidance and support from someone well versed in the estate planning process.

Aretha Franklin didn't have a will

She was a music icon and entertained people across the globe for decades. Franklin also had four sons, who are currently trying to establish themselves as her rightful heirs. The problem is that their mother did not sign a last will and testament, nor did she establish any trusts. Her niece has stepped forward to petition the court to appoint her as the sole representative of Franklin's estate.

Numerous people tried to claim inheritance to Prince's estate

Aretha Franklin is merely one in a long line of celebrities who did not execute thorough estate plans before they died. Rock star, Prince, who died suddenly at age 57, did not have a will in place. A woman came forward to say she had been his wife. Others claimed to be his children, siblings or relatives. A probate judge ultimately ruled to divide his entire estate among his sister and five half-siblings.

Probate litigation can last for years

Reggae singer Bob Marley passed away when he was 36. Since he died in 1981, his heirs have been locked in a contentious probate battle in court. A central focus of proceedings has to do with the right to use Marley's name and likeness as a business promotion.

Ways you can help your loved ones avoid similar problems

Your estate plan needn't be complex if you'd rather keep it simple. One of the benefits of creating an estate plan is the ability to customize it to fit your needs and goals. You can also change it or update it, as needed. In fact, it is always a good idea to periodically review your plan to make sure its information is current. Key documents often include a last will and testament, an advance directive and powers of attorney.

Taking the time to explore your options and devise a plan can help you protect your assets, keep estate taxes low, and most of all, minimize the chances that your loved ones will end up entangled in a lengthy probate dispute.

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