You’ve all seen it: a celebrity dies and hell breaks loose.
If you could ask them, they’d likely be thankful they were out of town when the show started. Wealthy, life savvy, over-advised by myriad minions of law – how do they so frequently leave such a mess?
According to Michael Hackard, an estate and trust attorney with plenty of experience with dustpan and broom in these cases, says it’s simple. He sees three major causes behind the brouhaha: Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia; stepmothers, now in the role of the widow; and plain old crime – estate crime. Let’s wade into the swamp and learn what we can.
Hackard has written a book on the subject and the title repeats his message: Alzheimer’s, Widowed Stepmothers & Estate Crimes: Cause, Action, and Response in Cases of Fractured Inheritance, Lost Inheritance, and Disinheritance.” Advisors need to swallow that mouthful, because it’s their job to sort out the mess or prevent it from happening in the first place.
Watch for the warning signs, counsels Hackard. Keep a good eye on elderly clients – perhaps you’ve worked with them for many years and know their usual ways. Do you see any warning signs of dementia? Uncharacteristic confusion during discussions and odd demands are common red flags. Unusual transfers of assets, perhaps to unfamiliar parties, should raise your concerns, too.
Celebrities lead colorful lives, sometimes to excess. Hackard recounts the case of wild man Jerry Lee Lewis, who by conservative count married seven times. He’s still with us, somehow, now age 83. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s in poor health and the fight to control his estate is on. His seventh wife is in court, battling the daughter of wife number-three, over who will handle his affairs. Dirty laundry abounds; lurid tales shock the courtroom.
We cannot be sure that other claimants will not appear. Jerry had plenty of time to get his affairs in order, but let the opportunity slip – the lesson is plain to see.
For more information, please read:
What the Nastiest Celebrity Estate Battles Can Teach Advisors | ThinkAdvisor