There is one word that frequently comes up in conjunction with creating an estate plan: procrastination. That procrastination can prove to be a fatal mistake. There was another well-known personality in California whose recent death drove that fact home. John Singleton, a well-known filmmaker, passed away at the age of 51 from apparent complications due to a stroke. He had procrastinated estate planning, and this has caused public family disagreements over the filmmaker’s estate.
He only had an outdated will that had been created in 1993 when he had only one child. At the time of his death, he had five children. In addition to arguing over the estate, the family also disagreed over his care following the stroke. There was no medical directive in place, and the family could not agree on what measures should be taken for their father’s health.
The estate will have to go through probate, as there was no trust in place. It could take years and several thousand dollars in court costs to resolve the issues and settle the estate. His mother is still living and requested that the probate process begin using the existing will. Since he had only one daughter at the time the will was written, she could inherit the bulk of the late director’s fortune, which, at the time of his death, was estimated to be about $35 million.
Having an estate plan in California is important, but keeping the plan up to date is vital to ensure that one’s final wishes will be carried out successfully. No one knows the length of time a person has on earth, and failing to undertake the task of estate planning can have serious ramifications on one’s final wishes. An experienced estate planning attorney can help a client establish a comprehensive plan or help ensure that an existing one is up to date.