I’ve recently had the pleasure of participating in a new television series called “Cashed Out” on the Reelz channel. The show chronicles the lives, the deaths and the probate battles of celebrities including Michael Jackson, Prince, Amy Winehouse, Robin Williams, Johnny Carson and George Michael. Not too long ago I also wrote a book on the very same topic entitled Probate Wars of the Rich and Famous. Both the show and the book illustrate that many, dare I say most, families have issues, struggles and tensions–some of which are discussed, and some just smolder beneath the surface … until the death of our loved one. We hope to mourn those we’ve lost peacefully, but too often, hoping isn’t enough.

Not until it was too late did King Lear realize his plan for bequeathing England’s riches to only two of his three daughters was ill-conceived. Not until it was too late did Esau regret selling his birthright to his brother Jacob for a cup of hot soup. Themes of last minute changes to a will or deathbed gifts make for a fascinating read, or may play well in theaters near you, but such actions cause families to litigate as scores are arguably settled.

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