Celebrity Estate Planning goes awry Pt. 3

Whether famous or just regular folks, we are reminded by the following anecdote that a few extra steps in your estate planning will deliver on your intentions.

Doris Duke

The tobacco heiress died with a fortune estimated to be worth $1.3 billion and thus making her the “world’s richest woman” of the time.  Her will included leaving a sizable sum to a charitable foundation.  Per the terms of her will, her butler was named as the executor of the estate as well as the trustee of the foundation. Unfortunately the butler’s spending proved so questionable that he was removed by a probate judge…….. only to be reinstated by a higher court. Finally, a settlement led to a board of trustees managing the foundation.

Here’s a lesson: Be careful of who you pick as executor, trustee, or guardian. Even your closest friend or family member may not be the most competent administrator. For a large trust, you may want a corporate trustee to at least handle the financial and administrative tasks. For any estate, you may want to be selective in your choice, because you are depending on them to act in your behalf after you’ve gone.

Call me, so we can work together to avoid your your butler becoming your executor.