Recent studies have shown that over half of the adults in the United States do not have any type of will or estate plan prepared. The majority of these adults own property or have minor children, meaning that if they should pass away, their surviving family would be left in a difficult position.  One of the primary reasons adults say they do not have wills in place is because estate planning is too expensive and is something only the rich need to worry about. Ironically, a surprising number of rich people have passed away with no estate plan in place or had a will that was so flawed that it created a nightmarish situation for their family and friends. These celebrity estate planning horror stories serve as a reminder that improper planning can negatively affect anyone regardless of income or net worth.

Battle for the Body

Ted Williams, often referred to as the greatest baseball hitter of all time, passed away in 2002, leaving behind two different wills. In one will, Williams stated he wanted to be cremated and in the other wil,l he left instructions that he wanted to be cryogenically frozen. The discrepancy led to a public legal battle between the legend’s children as two fought to keep Williams frozen cryogenically while the other tried to have his body cremated so that his ashes could be sprinkled in the Florida Keys. Eventually, his body was frozen, but not until after a lengthy court battle and lurid rumors published in tell-all books.

Failure to Update

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s passing was a shock to fans and his fellow actors, as well as painful for his loved ones. It was initially reported that Hoffman left behind a will, but it was soon discovered that his will was written 10 years prior to his death. In the time between the writing of his will and his death, Hoffman had two daughters. The outdated will mentioned Hoffman’s son and created a situation in which his daughters would have to fight for their share of the estate.  Hoffman also left the bulk of his estate to his partner, encouraging her to provide for his children, but because they were not legally married, the inheritance came with a substantial multimillion dollar estate tax.

No Will

The internationally renowned artist Pablo Picasso left behind thousands of artworks and a fortune that today would be worth $173 million. Unfortunately, the one thing Picasso did not leave behind was an estate plan. As a result, years were spent filing and dropping lawsuits during a prolonged battle over his estate. A large portion of the artist’s famed works and private collection were lost to settle tax bills. Eventually, the artist’s children were able to obtain a settlement, but executing a will could have saved Picasso’s heirs years of heartache and expense.

Talk to an Estate Planner

Each of the celebrity estate planning horror stories mentioned took years to resolve, costing estates millions in taxes and legal fees. Basic estate planning could have avoided these situations, which shows how important it is to consult with an estate planning attorney to create a will. The team at MMZ Law knows how vital preparing for the future is and we are ready to work with you to preserve the legacy you want to leave your heirs. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at our Claremont, California locations so that we can begin discussing your needs.



341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.