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Learn from celebs -- don't make these mistakes

What did Abraham Lincoln, Prince, Jimi Hendrix and Sonny Bono have in common? They all died without a will, according to a recent article from CNBC. The article stated that famous people make many of the same estate planning mistakes as you and me, including:

  1. Not having a will
  2. Not making will updates
  3. Not planning for estate taxes
  4. Leaving valuable personal property out of the estate plan

Here are four tips for avoiding each blunder:

1. Don't put off estate planning.

In addition to not having a will, Abraham Lincoln, Prince, Jimi Hendrix and Sonny Bono all had something else in common: they each died unexpectedly and quite young. Chances are that death seemed a long way off for these men, which could be why they put off their estate plans.

The reality is that tragedy can strike at any time. In order to make sure that our families and assets are protected, we need to take time to prepare now.

2. Don't forget to revisit your estate plan.

Things change with time. You may have added or lost family members since creating your estate plan, or both. You might have gotten married, separated, divorced, or all three. Your estate plan needs to be revisited from time to time so that it still reflects your wishes.

Apparently, Barry White died while separated from his wife. He had not updated his estate plan, so his estranged wife inherited everything while his live-in partner of many years got nothing.

3. Remember to plan for estate tax.

Your estate plan should not only detail who should inherit what, it should also plan for both state and federal estate taxes, and avoid them whenever possible.

Many famous people have failed to account for estate taxes and their families were left selling off valuables in order to foot the bill.

4. Don't forget your personal property.

CNBC reported that Martin Luther King Jr.'s heirs fought over his Bible and Nobel medal, and Robin Williams' family were at odds over the actor's film memorabilia, after both men left the personal property out of their wills.

Remember that personal property can hold a lot of monetary or sentimental value, so it should not be overlooked. If you have collectibles, art, jewelry or other items that are worth a lot -- sentimentally or monetarily -- make sure to include the property in your estate plan.

An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you avoid all of these mistakes and more.

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