I rarely read books about celebrities and their stories. Even though I read a lot, it is also rare for me to mention a book I’ve read and enjoyed so much in so many conversations as this one: 101 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes by Herbert Nass. Published in 2009, this book even has a recommendation on the back by none other than Donald Trump.
This was a very easy read on 101 short and sweet examples of estate planning mistakes made by celebrities ranging form Bob Marley to Howard Hughes, and with several examples from Leona Helmsley to Jackie Kennedy. Some of the mistakes may be obvious, while others are ones many of us might never think of, whether or not those celebrity’s situations might ever resemble our own. One of my favorite parts of the book is how he includes real copies of the wills of these celebrities (which become public in the probate process, one reason some clients set up trusts to protect privacy).
One big difference between many of the cases in this book and my typical client is that a large share of many professional’s assets tend to be in retirement plan accounts like IRA or 401k plans, which have beneficiary designations that pass outside of probate. I would still say one of the top 3 estate planning mistakes I see (along with not having a will or a plan) is not keeping these beneficiary designations up to date and maximizing the use of these accounts for estate planning purposes. I earlier posted an article on the top 19 IRA mistakes I see people make, which might need many more examples to make a book as entertaining as this one.
I don’t have too much more to say on it other than to recommend that you simply pick up a copy and read through it, and encourage either Mr Nass or your family lawyer to write an updated version with more recent celebrity cases.