Ask the General Counsel: The Estate Planning Choices of Three Legends and the Lessons They Can Teach Us | Business


The Legends’ unique estate planning experiences can be valuable lessons for us: First, Chadwick Boseman, who brought the Black Panther to the big screen among other notable works, had no estate plan. Walt Disney, who made us smile in so many ways, from the creation of Mickey Mouse and his other productions to the amazing theme parks, went with a will-based plan. And, last but not least, most pundits believe rock legend Eddie Van Halen, who forever changed rock and roll with his 1970s American rock band Van Halen, had a plan based on trust.

These three different avenues provide windows for understanding the pros and cons of three types of celebrity estate planning, the associated legal documents, and the issues raised in the estate planning process:

  • Boseman – Died without a will and without an estate plan
  • Disney – Died with Will-Based Estate Plan
  • Van Halen – Likely deceased with an estate plan in trust

We can learn a lot about estate planning by analyzing each of the aforementioned estate planning options and comparing the unique planning process of these legendary men. Here is what we know.

Chadwick Boseman: award-winning actor and superhero

Chadwick Boseman at the 91st Academy Awards in 2019.

Boseman was an award-winning actor, known for many roles, including the iconic Black Panther. His success has been an inspiration to many, and he has moved many of us with the depth and strength of the characters he has played. His death also raised awareness of the importance of seeking preventive medical care and screening for colon cancer. Sadly, he passed away without a will. This is also known as intestate death. As a result, his wife applied to be named executor of his estate in LA County Estates Court and could now face inheritance tax issues in addition to costly attorney and court fees that could have be avoided with basic estate planning. The Boseman complex estate was initially estimated to be around $ 900,000.

However, we now know, thanks to the probate process, that the superhero actor’s estate is worth exactly $ 3,577,861.11. We know this because a court-ordered valuation is usually required to value assets before they are distributed to beneficiaries. Some people suspect that a large portion of Boseman’s estate is also included in accounts that do not fall under probate, such as life insurance and brokerage accounts, but this information is not public. As you can imagine, intestate death has several drawbacks:

  • The state government sets the rules and decides who inherits your estate
  • Legal intervention required: Judge reviews estate and orders distributions
  • Public documentation of assets and beneficiaries
  • Higher legal fees to probate the estate and manage potential beneficiary claims
  • Assets are not protected from creditors
  • Assets may be impacted by inheritance tax and / or gift tax

Course: By working with an experienced estate planner, Boseman’s family would most likely have known the location of Boseman’s bank accounts and could have bypassed the probate process, saved money through tax planning, and he could have exercised control over how his last wishes were communicated and shared without the whole world knowing.

Walt Disney: The Iconic Producer and Creator

Kaliningrad, Russia February 13, 2020.  Walt Disney Portrait Sketch Illustration

Walt disney

Walt Disney is a legendary American film and television producer, a pioneer of animated films, not to mention an amusement park designer. We know a lot about Disney’s estate plan since he opted for a testamentary plan.

See a copy of Walt Disney’s will here.

While Disney’s assets had yet to be identified and valued or at least formally valued before their distribution by the court, by signing a will rather than dying intestate, he was able to make his wishes known through the estate planning process and put set up by the inheritance court.

It is also possible that Disney chose to designate beneficiaries of life insurance policies that would have gone outside the probate process and thus have remained private. State tax laws have certainly changed since the days of Disney. However, a will-based plan may not be the most ideal tool for estate planning to avoid inheritance tax and gift tax issues or to take advantage of tax planning by the owner. through other estate planning options to reduce the size of a taxable estate. Although it is better to have an estate plan than no plan, a plan based solely on a will has certain drawbacks.

  • Legal intervention required: Judge reviews estate and orders distributions
  • Public documentation of assets and beneficiaries
  • Higher legal fees to probate the estate and manage potential beneficiary claims
  • A living will or advance health care directive is recommended
  • A financial power of attorney is necessary to fill the void of a will in the event of temporary or permanent incapacity
  • Long term care plan options can be considered with a comprehensive plan

Course: Working with an experienced estate planner, the names of his trustees, details of the distribution of Disney property, the names of his beneficiaries would have been kept private and possibly even avoided some inheritance tax. And in case you were wondering, his family confirmed that Walt’s body was not frozen, that is, not cryopreserved.

Eddie Van Halen: Rock and Roll Legend

Eddie Van Halen’s death also broke the hearts of fans around the world. He was a rock and roll legend as the founder, songwriter and lead guitarist of rock band Van Halen.

Throughout his successful career, he has seen many ups and downs in his love life. After divorcing his first wife, Valerie Bertinelli, with whom he had a son, he married his public relations representative Janie Liszewski. However, despite these entanglements, so far there is little or no information available regarding his estate planning; many suspect this was because he had a trust-based estate plan, perhaps even a combination of revocable living trusts and / or irrevocable living trusts, which are often used by people who value privacy and are interested in estate planning to avoid or limit inheritance tax. Here are some of the benefits of a confidence-based diet:

  • Legal intervention generally not necessary
  • Assets and beneficiaries remain confidential
  • Reduced legal fees for probate the estate and handling potential beneficiary claims
  • Create specific guidelines and restrictions to protect assets
  • Take advantage of estate planning tools to avoid inheritance tax, reduce the size of a taxable estate and / or avoid gift tax issues
  • Advanced healthcare guidelines can be included as trust is life efficient in the event of disability and also in the event of death
  • Values, goals and objectives are achieved effectively (i.e., special needs trust, education trust, retirement trust)
  • A personalized financial power of attorney or health care power of attorney can complement a trust-based estate plan

Course: By working with an experienced estate planner, the details of Van Halen’s estate plan remain private, except for his trustee, the value of his estate has been kept out of the public eye, there have been no known disputes regarding the beneficiary designations, which have been kept up to date, and the privacy of loved ones remains protected.

What you can do

The big and small among us will eventually disappear. While Chadwick Boseman, Walt Disney, and Eddie Van Halen each took different paths with estate planning, hired different attorneys and law firms, and used different legal documents with their estate planning – they all had one incredible thing in common that we have in common. we will remember long after their money is gone. and inheritance tax is paid: They made us smile by following their passions.

To help make things easier for you and your loved ones, and to make sure they smile while thinking of you, rather than worrying about legal fees, court battles and the stressful tangle of your assets and yours. accounts, please consider contacting the PC General Counsel to schedule a consultation with Ann-Marie Murzin, an experienced planner.

Estate planning is necessary whether you want to protect your privacy through a living trust, protect your family with a testamentary plan, worry that your pension money will be wasted, or just want to protect your hard earned money. government or potential creditors. Working with Ann-Marie, Head of GCPC’s Estate Planning Practice Group, will help you protect your loved ones and avoid unnecessary legal fees when something goes wrong.

Contact us today at 571-396-8460, email [email protected], or if you are ready to commit to protecting yourself and your loved ones, simply contact us to make an appointment , to discuss how we can help you!

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