Lauren Bacall’s Death & Estate Law Planning Ramifications

Famous actress Lauren Bacall died earlier this month. I saw an interesting article that pointed out that her first husband was twenty years her senior and that she ended up out-living him by almost half a century! Her first husband, of course, was the equally famous Humphrey Bogart. (The article is posted here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bogie-and-bacall-iconic-may-december-romance-2014-08-27?page=1).

These tidbits are interesting because both people were iconic Hollywood personalities. Yet for me, the article grabbed my attention because it raises daily estate planning issues that many people face. Very few of us will die at the same time as our spouse; somebody is likely to outlive the other. Here are some questions that are important to address:
*Does the estate plan provide for the surviving spouse, especially if it is possible he or she will live for a significant amount of time after a spouse dies?
*If you have built a solid estate with the dream of one day passing it on to your children, does your estate plan address that?

Here is an all-too-common scenario that can occur without solid estate planning: husband and wife build a solid estate together, wife dies, husband remarries, husband dies, new wife now controls all of the assets and their distribution upon her death! The children from the original marriage might receive none of the estate (and none of the cherished items that have huge symbolic meaning regardless of their financial value).

The bottom line is that Lauren Bacall planned well. It does not appear that we will see family fights looming into the future. Follow the leading actress’ lead: plan well!

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