10 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake Number 8 – Leaving Multiple Wills (Thomas Kinkade)

While it is often said that you can’t have enough of a good thing, that expression doesn’t apply to wills.  Best to have one, or at least one at a time.

The beneficiaries of the estate of the painter Thomas Kinkade learned this lesson the hard way.  When Thomas Kinkade died suddenly in 2012 from a drug overdose, he appeared to have two different wills.

Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid -The problem with Thomas Kinkade's Estate Plan

The first will was submitted for probate by the late painter’s wife of 30 years from whom he was separated.  The second handwritten will was submitted by the late painter’s girlfriend with whom he was living.  The handwritten will, if valid, didn’t completely override the earlier will, and so two wills were in the mix.

Thomas Kinkade’s wife, Nanette Kinkade, fought with Kinkade’s girlfriend, Amy Pinto, over the assets in the estate, the artwork, and the real estate. After a long and likely costly fight they eventually reached a settlement.

If the primary purpose of an estate plan is to promote family harmony and create a clear plan for how assets are to be managed and divided at death, Thomas Kinkade’s plan fell well short of this goal.

How long has it been since you reviewed your estate plan with an attorney?