Inheritance feuds are quite common when a family member dies without an estate plan. Those who die young are the most likely to have failed to leave any legal documents that express their wishes. Unfortunately, the perception still exists that estate planning is something with which only seniors need be concerned.
Inheritance fights often make headlines when they involve the fortune of a high-profile public figure who died without leaving behind any indication of how they wanted their wealth to be distributed. Many well-known celebrities have died young, without a will, setting the stage for drawn out fights over the distribution of their estate. For example, Jimi Hendrix died tragically in 1970 at the age of twenty seven without conducting any estate planning. As a result, the legal battle over his assets raged on for more than thirty years.
Examples like that are often mentioned as a reminder of the importance of visiting an estate planning attorney to ensure that one's affairs are in order. However, it is also helpful to highlight well-known instances where proper preparation was completed and fighting was avoided. That appears to be the case following the passing last week of singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. The young entertainer lived a tumultuous life, but she was serious about making her wishes known regarding distribution of her assets. According to reports in Daily Finance, even though she was only twenty seven years old at her death, Winehouse had an "iron clad" will that passes her wealth to her parents and brother. She understood the importance of updating estate planning documents following changes in life circumstances. Winehouse executed a new will following her divorce from her husband, preventing possible challenges resulting from out-dated legal documents.
Failure to draft a valid will, create a trust, or conduct similar planning risks causing costly and prolonged family infighting. This is true for people of all ages. While some planning is usually better than none, not all estate plans are created equal. Attempting to write a will or engage in other preparation without professional assistance may leave the door open to later challenges. In our area, local residents are well served by visiting a New York estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place to distribute assets and avoid inheritance feuds.
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