Celebrity No-Nos Help Average Joes in New York Estate Planning

An improperly planned estate in New York City can cause turmoil in a family that adds to the grief felt from the loss of a loved one. And it’s not just everyday citizens who deal with it. Many celebrities have made mistakes in their wills that cause problems.

That’s why consulting with an experienced New York trust and estate lawyer is crucial to avoiding the kind of problems that can cause harsh words, infighting and lawsuits. Many of these things can be avoided if the right attorney is hired.
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These are some tips from celebrities that may help if you or a loved one is taking the critical step of planning your estate, courtesy of AOL Real Estate:

  • Put it in writing
  • Singer Don Ho, according to his adult children, promised his estranged wife on her deathbed that he would let her six children inherit the family’s eight-bedroom beachfront home in Hawaii where his first wife had lived until her death. He later listed the house for sale and while it was on the market, he died of heart failure. The house sold in 2008, but the children are still fighting over it.

  • Fund the trust you create
  • Before death, Michael Jackson created a family trust, but he didn’t transfer any assets into it, which is fairly common. When dealing with a house and other assets, a new deed or other transfer documents must be prepared to transfer ownership into the trust’s name. If unfunded, the trust will not be effective and the survivors will have to go through probate court to effectuate the terms of a Last Will.

  • Question mental competency before death
  • A few years ago, heiress Gail Posner left $3 million in cash and an $8 million house to her three dogs and another $27 million to her household staff and caregivers. Her son got about $1 million. While the case is still being fought in court today, it’s unclear whether her son will be successful in claiming that his mother’s staff took advantage of her.

  • Anticipate disagreements and address them before death
  • Survivors will sometimes bicker about how much they receive from the death of a family member. But one way to help prevent those disagreements before death is to spell it out correctly in a New York will.

All of these tips apply to you and I — the first step is hiring a New York City estate and trust attorney who can guide you through all of these complex decisions. Whether it’s modifying trusts, choosing an executor for the estate or dealing with New York estate taxes, a solid attorney should be your first step.


New York Probate attorney Jules Martin Haas, Esq. has been representing clients in Estate proceedings throughout the past 30 years. If you or someone you know is involved with or has questions about a Last Will or other aspects of Probate or Estate Administration, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.

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