Estate planning is a sensitive, never mind awkward, topic to bring up with clients. Who wants to talk about their own demise? But after a read through these high-profile faux-pas, you may not be as hesitant to broach the topic.
10. Gary Coleman
Estate Value: Modest
The 'Diff’rent Strokes' child star may not have left much behind when he passed away in 2010 at age 42, but that didn't mean there weren't complications with his estate. A codicil added to his will in 2009 left everything to self-proclaimed common-law wife, Shannon Price, under Utah law. This left friend and former chief of his corporation, Anna Gray, in a lurch, until a judge ruled in 2012 that the codicil naming was invalid and restored Gray as the hier to Coleman's estate, which included a home with a mortgage, and TV royalties.
9. Ted Williams
Estate Value: N/A
This legendary ballplayer's estate was not the big issue when he died in 2002, but it was, instead, the battle (in court) that ensued among the hiers over what to do with the sportsman's body. One will stated he should be cremated, while another said he should be preserved cryogenically until his body could be reanimated.
8. Sonny Bono
Estate Value: $1 million
Singer and record producer, Sonny Bono, did not have a will when he died in a skiing accident in 1998, which led ex-wife and singing partner, Cher, to file a lawsuit seeking unpaid alimony via his estate. There was also the 'love child', who turned out to be a fraud, who showed up to the table wanting a share. This leftBono's present wife at the time fighting in court to be named executor.
7. Heath Ledger
Estate Value: $20 million (estimate)
When the popular actor died tragically in 2003, his will failed to reflect the birth of his offspring, leaving his entire estate to his parents and sisters instead. Five years later, all turned out well, as the family announced all assets from the estate would go to daughter, Matilda, whom he had with actress Michelle Williams.
6. Pablo Picasso
Estate Value: $30 million
With an estate that would be worth about $173 million today, this infamous artist died in 1971 leaving behind a fortune and a huge tax bill owed to France, but no will. A collection of Picasso's paintings, featured at the Musee Picasso in Paris, were handed over by the estate as repayment. However, this was a mere fraction of his full 45,000 artwork collection. Meanwhile, it took years to settle the rest of the estate, which included several dropped lawsuits. Eventually, the artist's illegitimate son and five other siblings came to a settlement. (continued.)