Celebrities Who Forgot to Include Unborn Children in Their Wills

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Having a complete estate plan that protects and provides for your loved ones is not only wise, it’s essential. Without an estate plan in place, your family or friends may not receive what you want them to receive. It is also just as important to remember to update your estate planning documents whenever something changes which would affect your intentions. Here are a couple of shining examples of celebrities who failed to keep their estate plans up to date:

Michael Crichton. Crichton was a best-selling author, producer, director, and screenwriter. He was most known for his work in science fiction including books such as Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain, The Lost World, and many more.

Sadly, he died of cancer in 2008 at the age of 66, leaving behind a grown daughter from a prior marriage as well as his current wife, Sherri Alexander, who was pregnant with his son.  Even more unfortunately, Crichton never got around to updating his estate plan to provide for his unborn son.

When he passed, his net worth was approximately $175 million. Sherri Alexander filed a lawsuit against the estate to include her son in the will. However, Crichton's only other child, Taylor, aged 20 at the time, opposed the lawsuit and a long and drawn out court battle ensued. A judge ruled that the son would inherit, but it likely cost millions of dollars in attorneys’ fees and much stress before that decision was made. 

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Heath Ledger. Ledger, was an Australian director and actor and is most known for his role as the Joker in Dark Knight. Although only 28-years-old, his estate had a net worth of approximately $16 million. His will left his entire estate to his parents and three sisters.  He failed to update his will even after he had a child (Matilda) with Michelle Williams. Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in 2008. 

The ensuing family legal battles lasted for over five years. Similar to Crichton’s situation, Ledger’s daughter was able to inherit – but again, not without spending a lot of money on litigation.

No One Likes To Think About Death, But It’s Necessary

Most people don’t like to think about their own death and dealing with estate planning documents often forces us to do just that. However, as these situations show, it’s an important and necessary task to undertake, especially when a significant life event has occurred in your family. Find out how we can help you protect your loved ones whenever you’re facing a pregnancy, birth, marriage, divorce, or anything which can affect your estate.

Zach Wiegand is a Burnsville, Minnesota estate planning attorney who also handles probate in Dakota County and other counties in the greater Twin-Cities area. Zach is the owner of Gold Leaf Estate Planning, LLC, which is a Minnesota estate planning law firm that handles probate and trust administration in Minnesota. Zach was named a 2017 Minnesota Super Lawyer – Rising Star and he is a member of WealthCounsel – a national organization of estate planning attorneys dedicated to practice excellence. You can contact Zach via e-mail at zach@goldleafestateplanning.com or by calling (952) 658-6503. Gold Leaf Estate Planning is located in Burnsville at 3000 County Road 42 W., Suite 310, Burnsville, MN 55337.