08 Mar Reason #10 to Update Your Estate Plan: You Don’t Want to Be a Celebrity after You Die
Did you know that Johann Sebastian Bach was not particularly famous when he was alive? How about Henry David Thoreau, Vincent van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, and Herman Melville? While it is a bit sad to think that these creative geniuses didn’t live to see their works appreciated as they are today, their artistic contributions have been adored for centuries, and their legacies will live on for many more.
Here’s another person who didn’t become a household name until after death–Terri Schiavo. Okay–technically she was in a “persistent vegetative state” when her name was plastered all over the headlines, but you get the idea. It was 12 years ago this month that her feeding tube was removed once and for all, and none of us who were around during that time could ever forget the seemingly endless years of legal battles over what Terri would want. Of course, all anyone could do was guess what she would want, because Terri never put her wishes in writing. And who could blame the poor young woman? She was only 26 years old when she experienced a cardiac arrest that would leave her unable to care for her most basic needs. Most people at that age are just beginning the best years of their lives, not worrying about what will happen to them at the end.
Like all tragic situations, there were lessons to be learned from the Terri Schiavo story. Among them was, of course, the importance of making your wishes clearly known to your loved ones in a living will in case they ever have to make life-or-death decisions for you.
Of course it’s not a pleasant topic. No one wants to go there. But no one wants to be responsible for deciding whether to prolong your life or not should you ever be in a position like Terri’s. Just imagine the heartache you would feel if your spouse or close loved one was incapacitated and you were called upon to decide their future. It would be an extremely heavy burden, no? But if they had spelled out for you exactly what they desired for themselves, you would feel much more at peace with the decision.
Failure to provide a living will is only one way for your private life to be made public after you die. Memories of celebrities like Prince and Jimi Hendrix who died without estate plans are now tarnished with all of the cumbersome legal battles that went on for years. Michael Jackson is practically more famous now than he was when he was alive because of his poorly planned estate. But we all know that a large or even a modest estate that has to go through probate upon the owner’s death will attract all kinds of publicity if there is disagreement over how assets should be divided. Trust us when we tell you this is not the legacy you want to leave your spouse and children. Arguments of this nature almost never turn out well, and relationships are always at risk.
Becoming a celebrity after you die because of your art is one thing, but posthumous fame because of poor planning is not something you want. If your living will or trust needs to be revised for any reason, please schedule a time today to meet with us soon. We’d love to help you talk through your concerns and come up with a plan that fits your needs and wishes.