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What the Williams' estate teaches us about estate planning

Have you ever thought to yourself that things would be easier if you were rich? If so, you're not alone. A lot of people think that celebrities and wealthy individuals have it easier than most because they seem to be able to pay their bills and debts effortlessly, among other things. But when it comes to estate planning this is where this sentiment turns into a myth.

As the case of Robin Williams' estate shows us, wealth does not necessarily make things easier, especially when it comes to estate planning. That's because celebrities oftentimes have a considerable amount of assets and properties they have to think about. In many cases, careful consideration needs to be taken in order to make sure that their wealth is going to the people they want it to go to and that this is done in accordance with the law as well.

In the case of the Williams' estate, Robin's widow and children are currently entangled in estate litigation over some of his property. The dispute concerns the wording of Williams' will, which bequeaths one of his homes to his widow. But in the same document, Williams' also bequeaths some items from that estate to his children. The question at hand is who was the property intended for: Williams' widow or his children?

This is a difficult question to answer because each party disagrees with the other over what Williams' intentions were, forcing them to request help from the courts to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, this is not a problem unique to this situation nor is it something only wealthy individuals encounter either.

Even the average estate plan could encounter similar problems regarding the wording of a will and what its intentions really were. This is why having a skilled lawyer review your estate plan is so important before the unthinkable happens. A lawyer can point out potentially problematic phrases and help you provide clarification now so that it doesn't turn into a legal dispute when you're gone.

Source: AOL Real Estate, "Estate Planning Tips to Know After Robin Williams Saga," Sheree R. Curry, March 31, 2015

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