How an estate will be passed on is an important consideration for Louisiana families. However, high-asset families can easily find themselves presented with a complex legal situation when it comes to estate planning and succession. A deceased loved one likely expressed wishes for how their property will be divided, but what they say could differ from what is written in a legal document. How can families be more consistent is estate planning?
Celebrity death highlights estate planning issues
Problems in estate planning often make the headlines when a celebrity dies. The latest high-profile story centers on the estate of the late actor Alan Thicke, who passed away in December 2016. According to Variety, Thicke owned an 11-acre ranch in California, but he may have promises to his wife and three sons about who would receive the estate when he died.
Thicke re-married for the third time in 2005. His widow claims she is entitled to one-quarter of the estate and five acres of the ranch property based on a prenuptial agreement and other community property considerations. However, Thicke's sons say their father did not want the property go to their stepmother. Instead, they say, dad wanted to keep the ranch "in the family forever" based on a living trust signed last year. What caused this problem?
Conflicting legal language can complicate the process
The lawyer representing the widow claim there is a conflict of language between Thicke's prenuptial agreement, state property laws and his living trust. Negotiations between Thicke's widow and sons broke down, leading to a lawsuit and subsequent media headlines. How can families avoid this battle?
A trusted estate planning attorney can help with succession
Succession requires the cooperation of multiple generations. Conflicts in both language and love can lead to contentious legal battles. Because high-asset families often have complex financial situations, it is important to ensure the language of all legal documents is consistent. These considerations call for the trust of a careful estate planning and succession attorney.
As a family grows, estate planning wishes may change, but separate family members may seek the help of different attorneys over time. Doing this could cause a conflict in language and wishes as is evident in the case of Alan Thicke. One attorney who understands generational needs can best equip a family to ensure the wishes of loved ones are met with care and consistency.