PLEASE NOTE: To protect your safety in response to the threats of COVID-19, we are offering our clients the ability to meet with us via telephone or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options. Learn More

Life. Legacy. Law.

We can help you shape your legacy.

Reviewing celebrity estate issues to avoid probate litigation

No two estate plans are exactly the same. However, Illinois residents concerned about probate litigation may want to review several cases involving celebrities, as doing so may help avoid certain legal problems down the line. Many people are familiar with former rock star Jimi Hendrix although not many people are aware that he died with having executed a last will and testament.

Hendrix died at age 27. His case perhaps emphasizes the fact that it is never too early to develop a strong estate plan. When the rock star suddenly passed away, leaving fans and family members grieving their unexpected loss, it led to a legal battle that lingered for more than 30 years.

Actor and stage performer Patrick Swayze reportedly signed a last will and testament before he died. However, allegations were made stating that Swayze’s signature was forged. In fact, family members said he was far too ill with pancreatic cancer to be of sound mind when the will was supposedly signed. A handwriting expert testified that the signature did not appear to match other samples of Swayze’s writing.

Swayze’s case shows the importance of having a will notarized and also of having witnesses present when the document is signed. Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died at age 46 of a drug overdose, prompting confusion among his three children as to why his entire estate was left to his romantic partner instead of them. This is not the first time a wealthy estate owner has opted to not leave an inheritance for his or her children, and many who do so reportedly believe that it will make their children lazy and unwilling to work to provide for themselves. Probate litigation is often avoidable for Illinois residents if steps are taken ahead of time to execute a solid estate plan with thorough instructions.