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Learn A Lesson From The "Stars"

Probate can be difficult. For every estate probated smoothly, another experiences significant delays, expenses, and headaches. An unfortunate reality of probate is that it encourages disputes and will contests from family members who crawl out of the “woodwork.” Even the estates of high-profile celebrities are exposed to these issues. Fortunately, there are important lessons we can learn from the “stars.”

Michael Jackson:

Michael Jackson, just 50 years old when he passed, left behind an estate worth an estimated $500 million. Before his death, Jackson created a trust, but failed to fund it. During the probate of Jackson’s will, his mother and sister contested the will, believing it was modified after execution. The estate ultimately endured years of proceedings and hearings.  

Whitney Houston:

Houston, 48 years old when she passed, left her $20-million-dollar estate to her daughter, Bobbi. Unfortunately, just three years later, Bobbi also passed, plunging the estate into years of legal battles between Houston’s family members. 


Prince, 57 years old at the time of his death, did not leave a will for his $300 million. Family members, including his “long-lost” daughter, emerged to claim his estate. The legal battles ignited by Prince’s passing lasted six years. 

Important Lessons:

(1) Plan now: These celebrities may have put off planning, believing they could always do it later. Unfortunately, we don’t always have that luxury. Instead, their families fought bitterly for years. 

(2) Avoid probate: The celebrity estates above were probated. Probate provides ample opportunity for family members (who you may not even know) to emerge and argue they have a right to a portion of your estate. Proper planning can avoid probate. 

(3) Money = Fighting: The most unfortunate reality about probate is that money causes real problems. Family members engage in bitter legal battles lasting years and destroying relationships. Proper planning helps to avoid these disputes. 

Ultimately, planning is critical and can go a long way toward creating a smooth, efficient, peaceful transfer of your estate. If we can help you, a friend, or a family member begin planning for the future, please contact us at (813) 244-7758 or



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