Your South Dakota Will: What You Can Learn From Three Celebrity Mistakes

It goes without saying that having an effective, up-to-date will, is important.  However, mistakes still happen - even to celebrities.  Here's a chance to learn from three celebrity missteps.

1.  Anna Nicole Smith - Look out for all your children.  When Anna Nicole Smith died at 39, she left everything to her son, Daniel, who actually died before his mom at the age of 20.  Unfortunately, Ms. Smith's will was never updated to reflect Daniel's death.  It also failed to mention Ms. Smith's infant daughter, Dannielynn.  In fact, Ms. Smith's will actually contained language excluding any future children.  Eventually, after a court case, Dannielynn was found to be the sole beneficiary of Ms. Smith's estate.

2.  Ted Williams - Update your will to reflect any new wishes.  Ted Williams, the former Boston Red Sox great, indicated in his will that he wished to be cremated and his ashes scattered off the Florida coast.  However, a handwritten note apparently signed by Mr. Williams two years before his death indicated that he wanted to be cryonically frozen.  An estate lawsuit broke out between the Splended Splinter's children.  The court case ended when Mr. Williams' oldest child withdrew her petition to retrieve her father's frozen body.

3.  Florence Griffith Joyner - Keep a copy of your will and tell people where the copies are kept.  When Olympic sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner died at 38, her husband could not find her original will.  This resulted in court disputes between Ms. Joyner's husband and mother over her final wishes.  Her probate proceedings took over four years to complete and the judge eventually appointed a third party to administer Ms. Joyner's estate.

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Brooke Swier Schloss
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Family Law and Estate Planning attorney helping families across South Dakota plan and protect their loved ones