InsuranceNewsNet Magazine May 2011 : Page 21

EVEN MORE LESSONS FROM FAMOUSLY BAD ESTATE PLANNING | FEATURE You want a tip on an inexhaustible resource? Celebrity estate failures. They never stop. Year after year, they keep making more. S ince last year’s edition of celeb-rity estate-planning disasters, we have had a few that have just kept going and going, like a certain cymbal-smashing bunny rolling through the liv-ing rooms of America. Not only do these stories serve as good water-cooler chat-ter, they also offer cautionary tales for your clients, ripped from the headlines. Danielle and Andrew Mayoras heart-ily recommend the strategy of using celebrity stories as tools to get clients to do the right thing. She is an estate-planning attorney and he is a probate lawyer; together they wrote the book Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! “We teach insurance agents how to use these celebrity stories to get their clients engaged in dialogue about estate planning because it’s often an uncom-fortable subject to bring up,” Andrew Mayoras said. The Gary Coleman case is one such example of many things not to do. Cole-man, who died last May of a head injury from a fall, left a legacy of baffling estate planning. But at least he did do very rudimentary preparation, which is more than some people undertake. Take the shocking case of NFL quar-terback Steve McNair from a couple of years back. The first surprise was the circumstance of his death: he was shot by his girlfriend in an apartment he rented for her. It certainly was a stunner for his wife, but it proved to be the first of a few humiliations for widow Mech-elle McNair. Despite her husband’s $20 million estate and many potential heirs, he neglected to draft a will. McNair’s widow had to beg a probate judge to release some money from the estate, which had been frozen pending a payment of $3.7 million in federal and state estate taxes—not necessarily the final tax bill, by the way. Steve McNair had two sons with Mechelle and he had Gary Coleman left a few wills in his wake. His ex-wife claimed hers was the valid one because they weren’t really divorced. Steve McNair might have seemed to have it all together when he was a quarterback, but that all fell apart off the field. Not only was he fatally shot by his mistress (who might have been jealous of another mistress), his widow also discov-ered McNair did no estate planning and left her begging a judge for money. two other sons from a previous relation-ship who are also heirs. Even though McNair died on July 4, 2009, his estate is still frozen as issues are being resolved. Between the taxes and legal fees from years of probate action, who knows how much of the nearly $20 million estate will be left. Julie Ann Garber, an estate-planning attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, Fort Myers, Fla., said the McNair case aston-ished her. May 2011 InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 21

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