A couple of weeks ago, the news broke about a college admissions scandal involving prominent Hollywood stars and other wealthy families who allegedly sought to get their children admitted to prestigious universities no matter the cost. These parents reportedly paid to have ACT and SAT scores altered, conspired to have their children recruited as competitive student athletes; whether the student had ever actually engaged in that sport was immaterial. If the charges are true, these parents face criminal liability. However good their intentions, those intentions don’t excuse cheating the system.
Unfortunately, there are far too many examples in the estate planning world of well-meaning parents who think they are acting in their children’s best interests, only to realize unintended – and unwelcome – consequences.
Take, for example, the case of iconic Detroit Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell whose estate is now embroiled in litigation over claims that Harwell and his wife provided so much financial support for their adult children over the years that there was not enough money in the estate to pay for medical care when needed.
Actor Mickey Rooney was nearly penniless when he died, reportedly because his step-son and step-son’s wife exploited him for years, living off the fortune he’d amassed over eight decades.
Marvel icon Stan Lee, who died in November, was also allegedly the victim of elder abuse, perpetrated by his daughter and a former publicist who may have used undue influence to take advantage of Lee’s wealth.
This recent Forbes article includes more information about these situations and other sad tales of wealthy parents whose estate planning and goals ultimately failed. Just as you don’t need to be ultra-rich to want the best for your children, you don’t need an estate worth billions to benefit from careful trust and estate planning. Want to learn more? Contact us today to create or review your estate plan!