Although I have been handling probate and will and trust matters for over 20 years, it still breaks my heart to experience the fighting that occurs between family members when a loved one dies, especially when that loved one is the “glue” that holds the family together.
The Battle Over Alan Thicke's Estate
I recently came across an article regarding Alan Thicke’s estate and the fact that there is now a fight over his assets. It appears he did everything right to protect his estate. The article stated that he had a prenuptial agreement and a trust in place, which he updated regularly.
The old saying “money brings out the worst in people” is very much alive today. It does not matter whether you are wealthy or not, or if you come from a single marriage family who always got along while mom and dad were still living, or from a blended family. I always tell my clients that as an attorney I have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
With all of this said, you need to make sure you discuss what we call “the good, the bad and the ugly” with your estate planning attorney. As an estate planning attorney I need to make sure I am aware of all of the potential problems in a family. In addition, we recommend a setting up a family meeting so that all parties are aware of the estate plan. It is a type of “speak now or forever hold your peace” kind of moment. Perhaps a family meeting would have deterred the fight that Alan Thicke’s sons and wife are currently having.
What We Recommend to Avoid a Fight
We find ourselves more and more recommending prenuptial agreements to our clients and potential clients. We do not recommend it to doom a marriage, but to see it as an asset protection vehicle and as an important document in your estate plan.
However, the prenuptial agreement is not enough. You must also make sure you have a last will and testament and possibly a trust, depending on your situation. These documents are especially important if you have a blended family.
When creating or updating your documents, make sure you speak with a qualified estate planning attorney, as well as a qualified family law attorney who is well versed in preparing prenuptial agreements. When you pass away, having your documents in place and wishes known is one of the best ways to help avoid a battle over your estate.