For the sake of not jumping on the news bandwagon surrounding Michael Jackson’s death, I will keep this post short. I am always curious to see how the “super lawyers” handle the estate plans of the wealthy. I am often surprise to find that, despite being drafted by VERY highly paid attorneys, they are not much different (if at all) than the estate plans I provide my clients.
If you haven’t already read the will, you can read it here. It is a relatively straightforward pour-over will – that is it “pours” into his trust any assets that are not already in the trust. It further appoints executors of his will – called “Personal Representatives” in Michigan. In this case there are three. Finally it provides for the guardian of his children (his mother) and a successor . . . surprisingly it is Diana Ross!
There are 2 key points I want to make:
(1) We are able to access his will because probate is public. You can go to the probate court and ask for the file for any decedent estate and review it. This is why, I’m sure, most of the important asset information and administration is stated in his trust(s) (I’m assuming). A will does NOT keep your estate out of probate – it simply gives direction on how you want your assets to be distributed, to whom, and provides some guidance as to your desires for your estate’s administration.
(2) I typically recommend that my clients re-visit their estate plans every 3-6 years, and more often if there are major changes in family or assets. With all that Michael Jackson had going on in his life, both good and bad, I can only hope that his trust was updated more often than his will (written 7 years ago)