Anne Heche, Another Celebrity Estate Planning Lesson, Dies Without a Will

A recent celebrity death can provide insightful estate planning lessons. Anne Heche, who is often known for starring in the movie “Seven Days Seven Nights” along with Harrison Ford, died without a will. As reported by Fox News, the actress died in August in a car crash, leaving behind two sons, one an adult and one a minor. Homer Lafoon, the 20 year old son, has filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court to be named as administrator to her estate. News reports indicated that the crash resulted in severe anoxic brain injury before receiving medical care as she waited for the opportunity to donate her organs. The family indicated that she was “peacefully taken off life support” on Sunday August 14, 2022, after being declared brain-dead.

Estate Planning Lessons to Be Learned from this Untimely Celebrity Passing

It’s never too early to start working on your estate plan.

  • Anne was just 53 year old and likely assumed she had many years ahead.
  • Since Anne did not have a will, her son, who is only 20, has been asked to be named as administrator of her estate. This responsibility may be burdensome for him at his age. Lafoon has also requested to be named guardian ad litem over his thirteen year old half brother.

Dying without an estate plan can lead to uncertainty.

  • For Anne Heche’s estate, the lack of a will may result in an opportunity for controversy, and it may take extra time to identify an executor. Identify the heirs-at-law can also be challenging.
  • For example, Homer Lafoon, her son, has requested to be named as administrator, but it may be that another relative, such as Heche’s mother, may request to step in.

If you have a minor child, you can request a guardian.  

  • The self-help resources at courts.ca.gov provide detailed information about guardianship.
  • You can name a guardian for your children to guide the court as to your wishes, and if both parents are dead, then the court will consider what is best for your children and ask what they want.
  • If you have an incurable illness, you can ask the court to appoint a join guardian for your child, which will give you the peace of mind to know that when you die, the joint guardian will have full custody of your child without additional hearings.

Consult the Law Office of David Knecht

Celebrity deaths provide a wake-up call for all of us that we never know when our time will come. It’s rarely an easy or convenient time to consider estate planning, but making a priority of planning for the future can lead to a greater peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.  Contact Law Office of David Knecht at 707-451-4502. We have extensive experience in estate planning and can help you make decisions that are right for your family.

5 Important Estate Planning Documents to Have in Place During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The unfortunate reality of the current global pandemic is that anyone can find themselves sick in the hospital and possibly no longer able to make their own financial or medical decisions. Because of this, the last thing that anyone wants is to become incapacitated without the proper estate planning documents in place.

Read on to discover what we consider the five most essential documents you should either create or update during the current COVID-19 outbreak to protect yourself, your property, and your loved ones.

Will:

 

Your will is the legal document that instructs how to distribute your assets after your death and appoints guardians for any dependents or minor children. Dying without a will leaves your assets and property in the hands of your state’s laws.

It is also recommended that you review all beneficiary designations for retirement plans and life insurance to ensure that they are current.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

It’s essential to authorize someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf in case of a medical emergency that leaves you incapacitated and unable to communicate your own wishes. A durable power of attorney for health care permits you to make such an authorization.

Living Will:

 

A living will is sometimes called an advance care directive. This document outlines the kind of medical care you want if you are terminally ill. For instance, you can make it known whether you want to be kept alive on life-support systems, such as a respirator or feeding tube. You can also include instructions for organ donation.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney:

 

You also may want to make sure that your family has some kind of access to your finances in order to pay bills and medical expenses if you are unable to do so on your own. That’s why another important document to prepare is your financial power of attorney. This document gives someone the authority to handle financial transactions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

HIPAA Authorization: 

 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets federal privacy rules for medical records. However, if you’re hospitalized, you may want your spouse, children, or other close relatives to be able to communicate freely with doctors and nurses and find out how you’re doing. That’s why you may want a release document for records authorizing certain people to have rights to disclosure of your medical records.

Contact Us:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to actively spread through California, make sure you have the above documents in place and up-to-date, especially if you are an individual at high-risk of serious illness or death from Coronavirus.

David Knecht has extensive experience preparing Wills, Living Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, and Advance Health Care Directives to meet your estate planning needs. Contact David Knecht Law at 707-451-4502 today to learn more about these documents or schedule an estate planning consultation.