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Wills and estate planning

Why do I need a will? Lessons from Hollywood

It is difficult for some to stop and plan for life after they are gone. Just look to Hollywood for examples of untimely deaths that left estates hanging in the balance.

There are two crucial facts to bear in mind when determining whether or not you need to create a will.

  • Fact one: If you have an estate, you need a will.
  • Fact two: Everyone has an estate.

Your estate is comprised of everything that belongs to you, including possessions, bank accounts, your home, retirement funds and so on. Whether your estate is large or small is not the point. The question is, what would you like done with it after you die?

In the following FAQ, let's find out what happened to celebrity estates when their owners died intestate: that is, without a will.

What happens if you die intestate?

If you don't have a will, it falls to your state's intestacy laws to determine how your property is distributed. This process can get complicated and emotional, to put it gently. Salvatore Phillip “Sonny” Bono died without a will according to Subsequently, there were several claimants: his widow, ex-wife and even a “love child” the story claims. When Stieg Larsson (author of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) died, Swedish law dictated that his assets go to his father and brother, leaving nothing to his girlfriend of 32 years.

How long can an estate battle last?

In the case of Jimi Hendrix, the dispute went on for more than 30 years, according to

How much could the dispute cost? also reports that it cost $30 million to divide Pablo Picasso's artwork, homes, cash, gold and bonds among his six heirs. Regardless of the value of your estate, you can expect the legal fees to be significant.

At what age should I make a will?

The answer to this question is: How old are you now? While we often think of estate planning as something to do after you retire, that assumption couldn't be further from the truth. We never know what each day will bring. Why not be ready for anything?

How often should I revisit my will?

It's smart to review your will every time you have a major life experience, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, a big change in your assets, or a change in a beneficiary's assets. While the examples above are drawn from the rich and famous, we hope it's clear that you don't have to be famous or wealthy to need a will. If there's anything in your possession that you care about - especially if you're a parent - a will is essential.



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