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As an estate planning attorney, I make every effort to remind my clients to keep their estate plans current. My general rule of thumb is to have your estate plan reviewed every four years, or, any time there is a significant life change (i.e. divorce, remarriage, change in intended beneficiary, etc.) For this reason, it’s always particularly disconcerting to me when I hear stories of the rich and famous, such as Whitney Houston, passing away with severely outdated estate plans.
While all people, regardless of the value of their assets need estate planning, you’d think that wealthy celebrities in particular, with presumably large estates (at greater risk of abuse by managers, family members, etc.), would be ultra vigilant about keeping their estates protected by keeping them current.
In the case of Ms. Houston, for example, it’s been reported that her will was initially drafted in 1993, leaving everything to her only child, Bobbi Kristina. Subsequent reports suggest that the will was amended most recently back in 2004. (According to the Associated Press, the will supposedly calls for a portion of Houston’s assets to be placed in a trust for Bobbi Kristina when she turns 21, then more money at 25 and the rest at 30.)
A lot can change in eight years. We can only hope that the most current version of Ms. Houston’s estate is an accurate depiction of what she would have wished just before she passed.
Check out my recent article: “Right Up There With Not Having an Estate Plan: Having an Outdated One”