Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gary Coleman 1968-2010

"What you talking about Willis?"

We've all read of the passing of child tv star Gary Coleman during the last few weeks. Not only is it sad a 42 year old passed at such a young age, but he also left behind a financial puzzle.

Gary Coleman apparently had 3 wills at the time of death - one was even handwritten. Unfortunately, figuring out the actors intent will be based on 'clear and convincing' evidence. This will be challenging for a number of reasons.

Because he was estranged from his parents and divorced from his wife (who he apparently was living with once again), figuring out his true intentions is now left to the courts to decide.

Mr. Coleman is reported to have made $18 million from the sitcom "Different Strokes." How much remains is unclear.

As a Financial Advisor, I can easily say... everyone should have a will. You should also consider including a healthcare proxy and power of attorney. This will state who can act on your behalf should you not be able to make decisions for yourself.

Whether you are single, married or divorced makes little difference. We all acquire 'stuff'' during our lifetime. The older we get, the more 'stuff' we accumulate. Who gets our worldly possessions will be your choice. If all of your financial matters are in order, YOU decide who gets what. If things aren't in order, plan B kicks in... your Uncle Sam will decide for you (aka State Court).

With people changing spouses as frequently as careers these days, make sure you properly document your wishes. Couples who are remarried with children from different spouses may have children of vastly different ages & needs. Some children will require a guardian be named in lieu of being of legal age.

Start with the basics: Take inventory of what you own (ie. bank accounts, investments, home, car, life insurance, etc.). If need be, call your Financial Advisor to assist with these items. Lastly, you will have to see a lawyer as legal documents will have to be drawn.

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