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Sacramento Estate Planning Attorney Cites Need for Legally-Sound Wills

Published by Trudy Nearn on May 27, 2014

James Brown’s estate situation is an example of why it is essential for everyone to get their estate planning done properly and get it done now. The beloved Godfather of Soul died of pneumonia in 2006 at the age of 73. His legacy lives on in two forms. First, he helped create new genres that would make other icons like Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger famous. Second, his lack of proper planning has left his heirs locked in a years long battle and serves as a stark reminder of what not to do when distributing one’s assets.

Eight years after his death and so far, not one beneficiary has received a cent from him.

Multiple marriages made Brown's situation a complicated one. His last wife, Tomi Rae Hynie, gave birth to James Brown II while she was still technically married to somebody else. To top it off, reports indicate that Brown never updated his will to include Hynie and her child. Nobody close to Brown was even sure what to do with his estate upon his death.

Did Brown indeed wish to bequeath his estate to his extended family? On the other hand, did he want his children to get the most benefit from it? The legal struggle continues with no end in sight.

For Tom Lauricella of The Wall Street Journal, estate owners and trustees must know that they can't afford to do without a will. This document, should be drafted with the help of an expert, such as a reputable Sacramento estate planning attorney from Generations, and encompass everything from the names of beneficiaries to assigning a personal representative. Lauricella writes:

"An important part of the will is naming the executor who is in charge of managing an estate, including paying bills. While you don't need to tell anyone what is in your will, it's important to let your designated executor know he or she has been chosen to do that job, and it might be a good idea to inform other family members, too."

When an estate gets included under a will, it becomes a "testate" estate. A well-written will has more power than counterclaims and court orders. If the estate doesn't get included under a will, however, it becomes an "intestate" estate. In this case, the court determines who gets the assets based on intestacy laws of the decedent’s home state.

Had Brown produced a well-written will, trustees and family members wouldn't have to play estate tug-of-war. Anyone can write a will, but a legally-sound one requires the know-how of an estate planning attorney in Sacramento, CA from a reputable firm like Generations.

(Source: "Four Estate-Planning Documents Everyone Should Have," The Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2014)

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