At an Atlanta area courthouse last week, representatives of Whitney Houston filed her last Will and testament with a probate court clerk, thus beginning the official probate and estate settling process. Whether you were a fan of Ms. Houston or not, there are several practical tips we can take away after looking at Ms. Houston’s Will. You can use these tips as you create your own Will or are considering changes.
Tip 1: Delaying an inheritance. Though the size of her estate and how much she left behind is still in question, Ms. Houston chose to leave her only daughter her entire estate. She also chose not to leave her daughter with a sudden large inheritance, but to instead break up that inheritance into smaller pieces. Her daughter will receive her inheritance at the age of 21, 25 and 30. This is often done to ensure that heirs are not overwhelmed at the prospect of suddenly inheriting a large fortune. If you are considering leaving a large estates to your children, you should consider the potential impact that this will have on them and how you can more effectively deal with large wealth transfers.
Tip 2: Changing your mind. Ms. Houston wrote her Will in 1993. As part of the document she named who she wanted to serve as the executor of her estate and as the trustee of her daughter’s trust. However, Ms. Houston also filed a codicil in 2000 and again in 2004. A codicil is simply an amendment to a will that changes some of the terms. The codicils that Ms. Houston created changed who she wanted to serve as the executor and trustee. If you change your mind about any of the terms of your will, you too can either create a codicil or write a new Will.
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