ning documents can become a dangerous mistake. It is imperative to have an estate plan that reflects major life changes such as marriage, divorce, children, and finances. Michael Crichton, famed author, producer, director, and creator of the TV series ER and the movie Jurassic Park, left behind a messy estate after passing away from cancer at age 66. Crichton had failed to update his estate planning documents to provide for his son, John Michael, who was not born when the documents were first executed. After Crichton’s death, his daughter from a previous marriage objected to John Michael receiving a share from Crichton’s estate because of the following clause in his will: “I have intentionally made no provision in this will for any of my heirs or relatives who are not herein mentioned or designated, and I hereby generally and specifically disinherit every person claiming to be or who may be determined to be my heir-at-law…” When left unaccounted for, large estates are subject to federal and state estate taxes. Coming off the success of the hit TV show The Sopranos and the 2013 film Enough Said, actor James Gandolfini’s sudden death at 51 from a heart attack shocked his family and fans. With an estate worth an estimated $70 million, Gandolfini’s will left about 80% of his estate unprotected against estate tax. Federal and state tax collectors took more than $30 million from his estate–a blow that could have been prevented with appropriate alloca- tion. Although Gandolfini was relatively young and his death was unexpected, probate attorneys stress the importance of continued on page 45 Powered by the Young Lawyers Section, the CBA's new @theBar blog is full of content rel- evant to YOU–judicial interviews, committee and member spotlights, practice area insights, life/balance, and a monthly spotlight on access to justice issues. Subscribe to the blog or its RSS feed to receive new article posts and be sure share articles with your colleagues at https:// cbaatthebar.chicagobar.org/. @theBar Blog is Live and Focused on You
CBA YOUNG LAWYERS SECTION
Chair Brandon E. Peck Peck Ritchey LLC
First Vice-Chair Octavio Duran Hart, David, Carson LLP Second Vice-Chair Jeffrey Moskowitz J. Moskowitz Law LLC
YLS to Join Aging Adults to Prevent Probate Plights By Brandon E. Peck YLS Chair A key focus during my year as Chair of the Young Lawyers Section is to create programming that helps our older adult population avoid legal battles as they age ‒ and prevents headaches for their families after their death. Estate planning is, at its core, the distribution of estate assets upon death. Probate is triggered when assets held in the decedent’s name do not have a named ben- eficiary and thus require court-supervised transfer of assets. Probate can be avoided by drafting an estate plan in anticipation of death or in case of mental incapacity. While Hollywood may not be the first thought that comes to mind when thinking of probate law, many celebrities’ estates serve as unfortunate examples of poorly executed estate plans and probate mishaps. A look at some recent conten- tious celebrity estate battles can highlight potential probate plights facing our aging population. Four celebrity cases illustrate common scenarios that arise in probate, and the resulting probate litigation. They include: (i) improper execution of estate planning documents, (ii) breach of fidu- ciary duty, (iii) undue influence, and (iv) lack of mental capacity. Often, the failure to update estate plan-
Member Service Manager Alexis Crawford Douglas K&L Gates LLP Public Service Manager Tracy A. Brammeier Clifford Law Offices, P.C.