Professional athletes, actors, singers and other entertainers, we need to talk. I know you’re busy, being pulled in multiple directions to satisfy the external and internal demands of your entertainment profession. I also know that when the cameras and microphones turn off and the referees leave the venue, you want to go home and relax. On top of rehearsals and practice, photo shoots and press conferences, you often want to get away from it all and take a break from the business of the day. You just want to rest. I get it. It makes sense to me, and I don’t blame you. While rest is essential, and taking a break from the business is rewarding, there is still one piece of business that should not be put off, but should be placed front and center of your “to-do” list. That is creating a plan, using wills, trusts and powers of attorney (at a minimum), that will ensure a smooth transition of matters if your health fails or if you die. I encourage you…please do not put this off!
It’s Difficult To Discuss Death…
I know, it can be hard to think about death and incapacity and to take the steps towards addressing those matters legally, but it is much harder, on your family, friends, and even your reputation, if those tragedies occur and you have no plan in place. For an estate planning specialist like me it’s very difficult to read or hear about “celebrities” who die an untimely death or suffer a major health tragedy without a will or trust plan controlling the narrative. Such situations cause me to wonder: “Who was around them? What professionals did they have by their side advising them and assisting them with their business? Why didn’t anyone help focus their attention on the urgency of their estate planning needs? You mean no one had a ‘will’ conversation with them???”
How Did They Let This Happen???
For me, when I learned of the probate court drama involving the Estate of James Brown, I was amazed. When I read an attorney state that Prince “chose not to do a will” I could not believe it! When Aretha’s estate was opened due to her failure to have a plan, and a very contentious court battle over assets erupted subsequently, I was heartbroken. And when the late, great sports broadcaster, Ernie Harwell’s estate was challenged shortly after his death, the straw had finally broken the camel’s back. Here’s what I want to say about it: The members of your team should be pointing you in the direction of an expert estate planning attorney that can guide you through the process of creating a plan to address these matters. Every sports league should have estate planning attorneys available to provide information to its athletes. Record labels, managers and agents should have estate planning experts on call that can support their clients. Unfortunately, this does not happen, and when a tragedy arises, the public marvels at the drama discovered through gossip magazines and news reports because someone dropped the ball, leaving the person’s business in the public’s eye. This should not occur!
You Still Have the Opportunity!
This does not have to be your story, however. You have the chance, right now, to change this dialogue before it even begins. More importantly, you have the chance to create a plan that can protect your family, secure your assets and prevent unnecessary drama and contention. All it takes is for you to take matters into your own hands, by pursuing and engaging an expert estate planning attorney. If you are unsure how to determine if the attorney is an expert, contact me and I’ll help point you in the right direction if I cannot help you myself. Once secured, and once your plan is established, you will want to keep this attorney by your side as a permanent part of your team so that as your assets and positioning change your plan can too. This will be for your benefit and for the benefit of your loved ones.
Ultimately, this is a play that should be executed efficiently and immediately because we don’t know when this show will end. For now, write the script in the best possible manner, following the advice and support of your estate planning attorney. The plan will incorporate your interests, plans and wishes, and you will then be able to get on with life knowing that once the curtain falls, all will still be well.
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