Estate planners use a lot of strategies to help their clients avoid probate for their heirs. The probate process can be long, drawn out, stressful and costly. It can also be frustrating for heirs who could benefit from certain assets now to have to wait -- and navigate the probate process -- before they can receive their inheritances.
"Don't be a hero!" This phrase is used in certain situations in which it would be perilous for someone to attempt to fix something better left alone. Although we admire the heroes in our lives, many situations don't require a hero's attitude to ensure that they are handled appropriately. Heroic measures can save lives, but they don't always have to in order to do the right thing. How does this notion apply to estate planning?
The founder of North Face and Esprit, Douglas Tompkins, died in December 2015 after a kayaking accident in Chile. In the man's estate planning, he didn't leave any money to his five grandchildren or his two daughters who live in the San Francisco area. The daughter is now seeking to inherit millions from her deceased father's estate by filing a lawsuit. The controversial and contentious estate battle is happening in both U.S. and South American courts.