Monday, March 12, 2007

Don't Be Anna - Name Guardians for Minor Children

Category: Estate Planning

Continuting our series of what we can learn from the Anna Nicole Smith situation, she did not name a Guardian for her daughter. Putting the unique questions of paternity aside, this case highlight why all parents must have Wills.

I have said it before, but it bears repeating - If you have minor children, you MUST HAVE A WILL TO NAME GUARDIANS IF YOU DIE. If you do not have a Will, you HAVE NO GUARDIANS.

General statistics say 7 out of 10 people don't have a Will. The reason I most frequently hear when I ask why people don't have a Will at semiars: "I don't have enough assets." My response: "Do you have children?" Because if you do, the Will is the only place that you can name a Guardian. The reason I most frequently hear about why there is no Guardian: "We can't decide between Relative A and Relative B." While this is a hard decision, as parents it is one you need to make. If you can't decide, you expect a judge who doesn't know you, your family, your children or your value to make a better decision? And, if you are concerned enough that your children aren't raised by Relative A, shouldn't you make provisions so that can't happen? Putting it in the hands of a court is like playing roulette with your children's rearing. A clear case of "Don't Be Anna".


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Friday, March 02, 2007

Don't Be Anna: Take a Look at the Will

Category: Estate Planning, Probate and Estate Administration

While wholeheartedly agreeing with Joel Schoenmeyer's initial comments below, I too find Anna Nicole Smith's Last Will and Testament fascinating, for all the wrong reason.

Problems with Anna Nicole Smith's Will :: Death and Taxes Blog: "I've stayed away from blogging about the Anna Nicole Smith situation so far, as I'm not particularly interested in the tabloid aspects of Ms. Smith's life. However, another estate planning attorney e-mailed me a copy of Ms. Smith's Will (here as a pdf), and I had to take a look. I found it fascinating for reasons other than the fact that Ms. Smith lived a very messy life."

Joel goes on to look at a mess of contradictions in the Will about who is to inherit. You would think that a person who had legal representation up to snuff enough to take her husband's probate issue before the United States Supreme Court on a question to true legal merit, would be more careful about her own will. Not that I have a crystal ball, but I predict this one will be tied up in court for just as long.

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