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Millionaire squandering reveals estate planning lessons for all

It may seem like heirs to multi-million dollar fortunes have it all, but that isn't always true in the end. Take, for example, the Scripps family, a mother and son, heirs to a media fortune in the amount of about $100 million. They spent much of their fortune on extravagant vacations, expensive collectables, war memorabilia, gifts of expensive jewelry and thousands of dollars at strip clubs. However, eventually the funds started to dry up, leading to a battle between mother and son, in which one family member was ultimately incarcerated, tarnishing a legacy of entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

This may seem like it's pertinent only to the rich and famous but, actually, people of any means can learn a lesson from the Scripps family. Everyone should prepare an estate plan, one that gives you the say in what should happen with your hard-earned assets and when. This is particularly true if you are in a situation in which your family relationships are rough, or if you have a relative who, while loved, is irresponsible.

Estate plans these days are more than just wills. For example, with life spans ever-increasing, an estate plan can take long-term care and incapacitation into account via a living will or health care proxy. Moreover, trusts are popular estate planning vehicles. They can let a person decide who will inherit that person's assets, and contingencies can be put in place to avoid the squandering of the trust assets. One type of trust can be set up so that the funds in the trust can be used for to pay for long-term care or a trust can allow assets to be donated to charity.

That being said, it is important to be well-informed of the details of creating any type of estate planning document. There are various requirements for each one that must be met for it to be legally binding.

Source: CNBC, "The Greed Report: Not a billionaire? You still need an estate plan," Scott Cohn, Sept. 22, 2016

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