10 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake Number 3 – Not Updating Your Plan to Address Unborn Children (Michael Crichton)

While Heath Ledger’s family worked together to sort things out, Michael Crichton’s family did not.

Michael Crichton was worth a reported $175 million when he died of cancer in 2008. He left several ex-wives, a daughter from a prior marriage, his wife Sherri Alexander, and an unborn baby that Alexander was carrying.Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid - The problem with Michael Crichton's estate plan

Crichton had an estate plan that favored his daughter, Taylor, to the detriment of all others including his unborn child.  Taylor’s reluctance to share with her half-sibling forced Alexander to file a lawsuit against the estate.  Alexander sought a judgment from the court that her son—Michael Crichton’s son—was a rightful heir of the estate.  Predictably, Taylor opposed the lawsuit and a long, expensive, and emotionally draining legal battle ensued.

Despite what was likely argued as form language in Michael Crichton’s will disinheriting any after-born children, the court ruled that under California law, the son Michael Crichton never got to meet was entitled to inherit a portion of his father’s estate.