As a way of helping our clients learn from other’s mistakes, we’re devoting several of our blog posts this month to describe estate planning pitfalls by recalling some big mistakes made by celebrities. 
Unlike music legend Jimi Hendrix, who died at 27 without a will, actor Heath Ledger had prepared a will.  Unfortunately, that will was written three years before Ledger died at age 28, prior to his relationship with Michelle Williams and the birth of their daughter, Matilda Rose. The will left everything to Ledger’s sister and to his parents.

The lesson here: Once you’ve drafted the will, it’s important to keep it up to date to make sure it still meets your needs and that your property will be distributed according to your wishes. When should you consider writing a new will?

  •  You get married or divorced
  • You are unmarried, but have a new partner
  • The amount of money and property you own significantly changes
  • You move to another state (not all states recognize out-of-state Wills as valid)
  •  Your executor or a significant beneficiary in your will dies
  • There is a birth or adoption of a child in your family
  •  You change your mind about the provisions in your will.
  •  Guardians whom you’ve appointed to care for your children become ill or die

Of course, at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, we explain that there are other documents besides the will that are key in creating a comprehensive estate plan, including:

  •  Trusts
  • General Durable Power of Attorney
  • Appointment of Health Care Representative
  •  HIPAA Authorization
  •  Living Will

As changing life circumstances dictate, all of the documents need to be updated. The lesson suggested in our celebrity estate planning stories is simple:

Where there’s a will – one that is updated as circumstances change – there’s a way to avoid unintended estate consequences!

By Corrina of Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates