Celebrity Estate Mistakes

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Celebrity Estate Mistakes That You Can Avoid

Disclaimer: This article on celebrity estate mistakes is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

Given that their estates are worth millions of dollars, you would think that they would have teams of lawyers and estate planners preparing immaculate documents. However, the truth is celebrities also make estate planning mistakes just like us regular folk. 

However, you do not have to make those mistakes. Having an estate legal team like Beeksma Law preparing your estate plan, you can sidestep these issues and leave your family with the greatest gift of all: peace of mind. Contact us to book your consultation today!

Let’s consider five well-known names who made estate planning mistakes and how you can avoid them yourself. 

People at a concert illustrating celebrities that we look up to - however, they make estate mistakes too!


The music industry was shocked when Prince passed away in 2016, but it was even more astounding that he did not have a will in place. The courts then had to figure out how to divide his $300 million estate. The courts resolved the issue six years later, surely costing the estate millions of dollars in legal fees.

The lesson? 

You may be thinking, “If I had a $300 million estate, then I would have a will.” However, regardless of the size of your estate, you should still have your wishes down in writing. In the absence of a will, your estate will be tied up by the courts until it can be resolved. It can create confusion and heartache for your loved ones, as they navigate their grief and the legal system.

Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger did have a will when he passed away in 2008. However, he had prepared that will before his relationship with Michelle Williams and before the birth of their daughter, Matilda Rose. He had listed his parents and sister as his beneficiaries, instead of his child, and they inherited his estate. 

The lesson? 

Regularly review your estate plan. We recommend updating your estate plan, at a minimum, on an annual basis, as well as when you experience a major life change. Those life changes could include getting married, divorced, or becoming a parent, as well as less obvious changes such as starting a business or buying a vacation home. 

Casey Kasem

Doctors diagnosed the radio celebrity with Lewy Body Dementia in 2007, and he died in 2014. Strained family relationships led to fights about his care and how to approach the end of his life. 

The lesson

A will is not the only estate planning document that you need as part of your estate plan. Everyone should have two powers of attorney: one for their personal care and one for their property. While you may be young and healthy today, you need these documents to prepare for an event wherein you may incapacitated and would need someone else to step in and make decisions for you. 

Phillip Seymour Hoffman 

Phillip Seymour Hoffman avoided trusts for his minor children, as he reportedly did not want them to become entitled. However, that choice had terrible consequences for his estate. Since most of his estate was left to his long-time partner, it was subject to millions of dollars of estate tax that could have been avoided. 

The lesson

There are tax implications to how your estate is structured. Be sure to speak to a lawyer and accountant to minimize the tax owed by your estate after you have passed. 

Justice Warren Burger

Justice Burger is not a celebrity, but a great example of why you should save doing it yourself for home décor and not estate planning. This former Supreme Court Justice died in 1995 with an estate worth approximately $1.8 million. Given his legal expertise, you would assume that the will that he prepared would be immaculate. However, it failed to give his executors proper powers and left his estate paying unnecessary taxes.

The lesson

If a Supreme Court Justice would have benefited from speaking to an estate lawyer that understands the complex legal issues involved, then we all do. Only someone experienced in this complicated area of law can make sure that you have an estate plan that is practical, secures your wishes as much as possible and gives your remaining family true peace of mind. 

Avoid Estate Mistakes With Beeksma Law

At Beeksma Law, we are passionate about making sure that you avoid estate planning mistakes that will hurt your loved ones. We want you to have peace of mind, knowing that your wishes are properly and clearly documented. 

Whether you have a “Best Actor” Oscar or “Best Mom Ever” mug, everyone needs an estate plan. Book your consultation with our team today to get started on yours.