What Celebrities Made Estate Planning Blunders?

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Celebrities have been known to make terrible estate planning mistakes.

In our culture, the lives of celebrities can be quite public.

In fact, most of them pay a lot a lot of money to personal public relations firms so we do not forget about them!

We can find out their relationship status, favorite brands, and even the names of their pets if we want to do so.

Their triumphs are broadcast for the world to know.

Their failures are as well.

According to a recent Born2Invest article titled “The biggest estate planning blunders of all time,” we can learn from the estate planning mistakes made by celebrities.

What celebrities made these unfortunate estate planning blunders?

Celebrities are not perfect.
Some celebrities have made estate planning blunders.

Baseball legend Ted Williams

Ted, nicknamed the “Spendid Splinter,” died in 2002 with two “last” wills.

One last will provided instructions to cryogenically freeze his remains.

The other last will went the opposite route and asked for his body to be cremated.

This instigated a fight among his children.

Ultimately, both his head and body were frozen and stored at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona.

Singer and Congressman Sonny Bono

Sonny died intestate.

This means he had no last will.

The result?

His ex-wife Cher sued for $1.6 million in unpaid alimony.

His estate also had to deal with a fraudulent claim for an inheritance made by an illegitimate child.

Although this claim was discredited through DNA testing, a last will would have avoided some of these complications.

Actor Heath Ledger

After the birth of his daughter, Health did not revise his last will.

For this reason, his estate was split between his sisters and his parents.

Although his family proceeded to give all the money to his daughter, he could have left his child with nothing had his family not been so honorable.

Other celebrities were not so fortunate.

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman

In a similar vein, Hoffman did not update his estate plan after the birth of his two daughters.

In addition to this, he was not married to their mother, his then girlfriend.

His poor planning cost his estate approximately $12 million in estate taxes.


Owner of the Miami Dolphins Joe Robbie

Robbie had an estate plan in place.

Unfortunately, it was substandard.

The revocable inter vivos trust and pour-over will were intended to defer estate taxes until after his wife also died.

Instead, she demanded her elective spousal share.


This included 30 percent of his illiquid estate, which included the Miami Dolphins football franchise and “Joe Robbie Stadium” where the team played.

A $47 million tax bill was triggered.

The bill could only be settled through the sale of his football team.

For this reason, his 11 children went to the courts to fight over the estate of their father.

Singer James Brown

His poor planning triggered an epic estate battle among his different blended families.

This last 12 years.

Singer Barry White

White was in the middle of divorce proceedings when he died in 2003.

Because he was yet legally married to his wife, his girlfriend who was mother to nine children received nothing.

Although many celebrities have made poor estate planning decision, these are a few of the most notable.

Their estate planning mistakes cost their families unnecessarily through estate battles, time, and taxes.

Learn from their mistakes and work with an experienced estate planning attorney to get your affairs in order.

Reference: Born2Invest (January 27, 2020) “The biggest estate planning blunders of all time”

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