Thursday, July 9, 2009

Estate Lessons of Michael Jackson

Estate Lessons From Michael Jackson's Death

“Estate Planning Lessons from Michael Jackson’s Death”

In this Article, we will discuss two important estate lessons learned by Michael Jackson’s death. The first estate lesson is your legal affairs must be planned prior to your death or incapacity.

A. Guardianship of Minor Children & Incapacity Planning

Michael Jackson’s death is an educational opportunity because seniors face similar issues to Michael Jackson. First, Michael Jackson (hereinafter referred to as “Jackson”) deceased with three minor children. Seniors are having children at later ages and are responsible for parenting their grandchildren. Unfortunately, death is a hard topic to grasp, but one that must be planned for.

Adult guardianship is a type of probate court, which administers an adult disabled person’s financial and health matters when they are incapacitated. Guardianship court also hears legal matters involving minor children who have either inherited money or need a guardian appointed. Jackson’s will preferred his mother, Katherine Jackson (hereinafter referred to as “Jackson’s Mother”), to be guardian over his children. A will gives the guardianship court clear direction of Jackson’s intent. Estate disputes costs heirs thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and costs and more importantly, your family may be destroyed over your estate matters. The key lesson is anticipating your potential family conflicts and have your proper legal paperwork prior to your death or incapacity.

B. Privacy as a Dispute Resolution Tool

Privacy is a vital tool in managing potential family estate conflicts. Michael Jackson’s will name his Family Trust as his estate’s beneficiary. A family trust or otherwise known as a “Living Trust” or “Revocable Living Trust” is a legal written document which distributes property upon your death or incapacity. Unlike a will, a family trust does not involve court procedures and is administered outside of court. Hence, in contrasts to probate court where a will is administered and is public information, a family trust has no requirement of mailing out notices to potential heirs including disinherited heirs. More importantly, a public document such as a will enables a will contest attorney to review the language and determine how to contest the validity of the will. In contrasts, a family trust is more difficult to attack because disinherited beneficiaries have no legal right to see the contents of the document. Therefore, the non-court involvement and privacy of a family trust is a powerful tool in managing potential family disputes.

by Sean L. Robertson, Attorney at Law

Robertson Law Group, LLC
9923 S. Ridgeland Avenue, Suite 99
Chicago Ridge, Illinois 60415
w) 312-498-6080 or

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