Estate Planning – Learning From Gene Wilder

2016 will undoubtedly go down as an infamous year of celebrity deaths and the unfortunate passing of celebrities continue. The world lost one of its funniest men this past August: Gene Wilder, star of Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein and The Producers. He continued to be active later in his life, penning short stories and novellas while contributing to his charity work. Mr. Wilder passed at age 83 from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Past Spouses Must Be Accounted For

While details of Mr. Wilder’s estate remain sparse at the moment, there are no rumblings or rumors of will contests or estate disputes despite the estimated value of Mr. Wilder’s $20,000,000 estate. This is impressive, especially considering that Mr. Wilder was married four times during his lifetime. Having previous divorces can bring numerous complications to estate planning as we have covered before. Considerations for past divorce decrees as well as keeping up to date estate planning documents must be made to prevent a legal mess after a person’s passing.

Charity Is Often Your Greatest Legacy

Mr. Wilder may have been most well-known for his time on the screen but much of his life was also devoted to charity work in the form of cancer awareness. After his third wife, famous Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner passed away due to ovarian cancer, Mr. Wilder testified before Congress about cancer awareness. He donated millions to fund a treatment facility in Los Angeles dedicated to screening for ovarian cancer and cancer prevention.

While giving to charity is an honorable endeavor it can also serve as an estate planning technique to offset potential taxes owed on an estate. Giving to charities reduces estate taxes owed to the government. Advanced estate planning can contribute to charity through charitable remainder trusts or charitable lead trusts while the grantor continues to enjoy an income from the assets.

Planning Ahead Of Time Is A Must

Although it was kept secret for years, Mr. Wilder struggled with Alzheimer ’s disease. The most well-known symptom of Alzheimer’s is dementia. A person suffering from Alzheimer’s has to act quickly once diagnosed with the disease due to questions of capacity. As we have highlighted before, a person who lacks mental capacity cannot execute a valid will. As soon as a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, executing a valid will becomes much harder as many times there is a presumption that the testator did not know what he or she was signing or did not understand what was happening. Failure to take proper steps ahead of time can leave a person with an outdated estate plan or no estate plan in place.

Remember Gene Wilder

Mr. Wilder lived his life to the fullest and left everyone with happy memories. He was a comic and actor whose antics and jokes stand the test of time. Beyond his estate, everyone should remember exactly how great of a man he was and all the good he did in the world.

See Related Posts:

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Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Contested Estate: Muhammad Ali’s Unhappy Heirs

Hollywood Tragedy: A Life Lost Unexpectedly

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