10 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake Number 9 – Waiting Too Long to Prepare your Estate Plan (Robert Indiana)

The best estate plans are prepared and revised over many years, and those plans establish long-held testamentary intent.  When estate plans are prepared quickly, or changed significantly from earlier plans, those new plans are often viewed with suspicion.

If you wait until you are old and infirm, your plan—which may accurately express your wishes—may be the target of a will challenge.

Robert Indiana, the artist who received international fame for his 1965 iconic image of the letters L-O-V-E, died a few months shy of his 90th birthday.  At his death, he was reclusive living on his island home in Vinalhaven, Maine.

At issue was the trove of art and intellectual property that he amassed during his lifetime.

Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid -Waiting Too Long to Prepare your Estate Plan

Apparently, the Morgan Art Foundation, which represented him, had become concerned that his studio manager, Jamie L. Thomas, was improperly interfering with the artist’s estate plan.  In court filings, the Morgan Art Foundation alleged that Thomas allowed another art studio to reproduce copies of the artist’s work.

Robert Indiana was alleged to have been bedridden and infirm when he drew up a new will in 2016 at the behest of Thomas.  It was also alleged that Robert Indiana gave Thomas power of attorney to manage the artist’s collection before he died.

The 2016 will made significant changes to a prior will done in 2013, and this raised suspicions that the artist was being manipulated.  We cannot know what Robert Indiana intended, and whether he did want the changes to his 2013 will, because he waited too long to make them and because he made them under suspicious circumstances.

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