Craig's Corner - Wealth Planning Insights

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Plight of Bobbi Kristina Brown Illustrates Importance of Estate Planning and Living Wills at Any Age

Do young adults need an estate plan and advance directives?

At age 22, Bobbi Kristina Brown lies in a hospital bed, hovering between life and death. The daughter of singers Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, she was the sole beneficiary of her mother's estate when her mother drowned in a bathtub in 2012.

Now, after an eerily similar accident, Brown lies in a coma, on a ventilator. Reports vary on whether she is irreversibly brain dead. There has also been much speculation over who stands to gain most financially if she dies.

Brown inherited an estate worth perhaps $20 million, with ongoing licensing and branding revenues worth millions more. According to Houston's will, her daughter was to receive the money in three phases -- at ages 21, 25 and 30. The first phase included just one tenth of the estate. If Bobbi Kristina Brown stays alive, even in a coma, until age 25, another sixth of the estate would be distributed to her. If she makes it to age 30, she inherits the rest.

If she dies before she inherits, however, her mother's immediate family benefits instead. Whitney Houston's father and brothers are co-beneficiaries of the will. If Bobbi Kristina Brown lives to age 30, the co-beneficiaries receive nothing.

It is not publicly known whether Bobbi Kristina Brown has a will. If she has none and reaches age 30, she would die "intestate" and Bobby Brown, her father, would be legally entitled to half of the estate, though he received nothing under Whitney Houston's will. A Bobbi Kristina Brown will might provide for Nick Gordon, with whom she had a relationship, though the two were not legally married.

It is also not clear whether Bobbi Kristina Brown left a"living will," advance directive, do not resuscitate (DNR) order, or any other health care proxy or power of attorney that would instruct doctors and her family on whether to keep her on life support. Decisions about her medical fate are now intertwined with the financial interests of relatives whose inheritances hinge on whether and for how long she lives.

Accidents can happen to people at any age. This sad story illustrates the importance of having a will to provide for your financial affairs and a "living will" or medical proxy covering medical care. Contacting an attorney to make these preparations is a small investment of time compared to the huge problems and suffering that can ensue when there is no plan.

Nevada estate planning attorney Craig Stone can advise you on the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family. Call him today at (877)905-0890 for a consultation.

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S. Craig Stone II of Stone Law Offices, Ltd. serves clients throughout Clark County, Southern NV, Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, North Las Vegas, Summerlin, Carson City, Reno, Washoe County, and Nye County. Also serving clients with asset protection nationwide.

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