Try this estate planning and probate marketing idea (FREE SOCIAL POST TEMPLATE)

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Probate marketing and estate planning marketing don’t need to be dry, boring, or full of legalese. I wanted to put together a simple-but-powerful marketing piece of content that brings entertainment and pop culture into what would otherwise feel like boring marketing.

So I put together a list of celebrities and what happened with their estates when they passed away. Here are 9 famous estate situations – and 9 ways to remind your audience they should be proactive when it comes to estate planning and probate

The text of this blog is for additional context. At the end, you’ll find a link for free social media marketing templates (and a small request to leave us a recommendation on Facebook!) so you can quickly make custom images for your social platforms.

Let’s dive in:

9 Celebrity death and inheritance stories:

Death is inevitable, but what happens to your assets when you die? That’s a question that many of us – including celebrities – never think about until we’re faced with it. In recent years, many celebrities have had their lives and estates made public for all to see. Take a look at some celebrity death and inheritance stories!

Prince died without a will, but his estate was divided amicably.

Prince’s estate had a final valuation of $156 million. Although he did not have a will when he died in April 2016, his assets were divided equally among four siblings and his sister, as well as half going to an established charitable organization. The remaining portion went into a trust fund for his son, Prince Nelson.

Robin Williams’ ex-wife spent $15 million in legal fees fighting for a stake in his estate – and lost!

The estate of Robin Williams was valued at $50 million when the actor died by suicide in August 2014. Williams left his estate to his wife, Susan Schneider, and his three children from previous marriages. However, Williams’ first wife, Marsha Garces, claimed that she was entitled to a portion of the estate. The court ruled in favor of Schneider, and Garces was ordered to pay $15 million in legal fees.

Brittany Murphy died without a will; Her mother and husband fought for control of the estate

Brittany Murphy died in 2009 without a will. This created a legal battle between her widower, Simon Monjack, and her mother, Sharon Murphy. Sharon was ultimately awarded control of Brittany’s estate, which was valued at $10 million.

Heath Ledger had a will, but didn’t update it.

When Heath Ledger died in January 2008, he had a net worth estimated at $20 million. His unexpected death left many people wondering what would happen to his estate: Not only was the cause of his death a possible grounds for voiding indemnification by his Life Insurance policy provider, but Heath had not updated his will to reflect a change in life circumstances – the birth of his daughter Matilda three years prior. Luckily, Heath’s family members set up a trust for Matilda so a family provision claim would not have to be made on her behalf.

Amy Winehouse’s estate succumbs to taxes and legal fees

When Amy Winehouse died in July 2011, she left behind an estate valued at $5 million. The majority of her wealth was inherited by her parents, with a small portion going to her brother. However, the majority of Winehouse’s estate was consumed by taxes and legal fees. This left her family with very little to show for their daughter’s incredible talent.

Anna Nicole Smith: Howard Stern wins a lengthy battle with Anna’s mother

One of the most famous fights over a celebrity death estate involved the estate of Anna Nicole Smith. Smith willed Howard K. Stern, her lawyer and companion, to serve as executor of her will. However, probate was still open for Smith’s late husband J. Howard Marshall II. Smith also had an outdated will that named a now-deceased child, and precluded future children. The final cherry on top was Smith’s mother staking a claim in the estate and asserting Stern, with his knowledge in law, manipulated his way into her daughter’s will.

Kobe Bryant: A smooth probate process is still a lot of work.

Kobe Bryant’s estate is currently worth an estimated $600 million. His widow, Vanessa Bryant, is in charge of the estate and has been since his death in 2020. The couple had four children together, but Kobe had not updated his estate plan to include his 9-month-old daughter in trust documents. Vanessa has stated that she plans to use Kobe’s estate to provide for her family and ensure that his legacy lives on.

David Bowie’s probate case is still open six years later, even though it’s been a smooth process.

David Bowie’s estate was valued at around $230 million when he died in January 2016. The majority of his estate went to his wife, Iman, and his two children. Beyond the money, Bowie’s last wishes included the family forgoing a funeral service and instead spreading his ashes over Bali.

Michael Jackson: Don’t stop ’til you get enough!

Michael Jackson’s estate has been embroiled in legal battles since his death in 2009. From disputes over royalties and asset distribution to valuation disputes with the IRS, the litigation seems endless. However, the estate has earned over $2 Billion in the 13 years since Jackson’s death! No wonder control over his estate has been so contentious.

Estate planning marketing can be relatable – Don’t overthink it.

These are just a few examples of the many celebrity death and inheritance stories out there. While some estates are divided up smoothly, others can cause years of legal battles and heartache for those involved. Demonstrating how a celebrity is neither immortal nor immune to poor planning is a great way to motivate the people around you to be proactive about their legacy.

After all, nobody knows when their time will come. Thanks for reading, and I truly hope this inspires your estate planning and probate marketing!

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