Although our Oakland County readers would have to be of a certain generation and have a certain musical taste to know who Adam Yauch was, some interesting news has developed in the wake of his recent and untimely death which could shed some light on key aspects of estate planning. Yauch was more popularly known as MCA, a founding member of the iconic and genre shattering group known as the Beastie Boys. The group's music developed an intense following beginning in the 1980's, and they became even more famous because they were some of the first Caucasian rappers to gain mainstream credibility. Mega-stars like Detroit native Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, have said that the Beastie Boys were a huge influence and inspiration to them.
When Michigan residents hear the term "estate plan," some may think of it as a legal term applying only to wealthy people. On the same token, people might think of an estate plan as a stack of documents that directs the distribution of enormous amounts of assets and property. However, what these same people may not know is that drawing up a document as simple as a will is the beginning of virtually every estate planning process.
Many of our Detroit-area readers are probably familiar with the artwork of Thomas Kinkade. His painting style spawned a huge commercial art enterprise that made him a very wealthy man. Sadly, Kinkade passed away back in April, and although he had a will at the time of his death, a dispute over some of his handwritten notations has resulted in probate litigation.
Readers in Oakland County likely already realize that a will is a primary estate planning tool. A will can be the bedrock around which all other estate planning devices revolve. Wills are known for helping estate planners avoid intestacy and carefully designate how property should be distributed to heirs and beneficiaries.
Our Detroit-area readers may be familiar with Gary Coleman, the actor who starred in the television show "Diff'rent Strokes" from 1978 until 1986. Coleman died in 2010 at the age of 42 following an accident at his home that resulted in a serious brain injury. At the time of his death, Coleman was struggling financially, but he did have a will. However, that has not stopped two women in his life from fighting to establish his intent during recent probate litigation.
A battle over the estate of Rosa Parks has made for big news in the world of estate planning. Civil rights legend and pioneer, Rosa Parks died six years ago, but the battle over her $8 million estate continues to this day. Late last year, this blog discussed the Michigan Supreme Court's decision to overturn an earlier ruling regarding the Parks estate. But now, the Michigan Supreme Court has released the details of a confidential settlement reached between the battling parties in 2007.
A couple of weeks ago, Michigan residents may remember that we discussed aspects of a modern estate plan that would avoid probate problems potentially caused by people having online accounts that outlive them. Well, like digital clockwork, Facebook has responded to the problem. The social network has introduced an application (or "app") that can be used to allow appointed trustees to post video or text messages on a person's wall, even if he or she is deceased. And, to avoid future probate disputes, readers in the Detroit area may want to look into similar measures with regard to all of their online accounts.