“It feels good”…when you plan. James Brown Estate found out the hard way.

Court Battles Deplete Estate assets leaving families to fight and receive less to nothing…..

Why, James Brown, why…..

Poor estate planning or no planning at all can lead to conflicts and depletion of estate assets.  Mostly, poor estate planning.   When documents are updated and done the right way, it’s a great start.  It is money well spent.  I tell all my clients, spend the few dollars now rather than have your family spend thousands of dollars later. 


It’s very important to keep Wills and related documents updated and complete especially after births, deaths, marriages, divorces, adoptions and other life changing events.   Even large acquisitions can affect a plan.  

Celebrities like James Brown, to name a few, did not do this.   He did not update his documents after his marriage or after the birth of his son.   This neglect opened up the flood gates of litigation among the family members that he never planned for or mentioned.   Arguments like undue influence and duress was raised.  The litigation went on for year, five years plus. 


I had a client who during his life time was an accountant and had accumulated a large wealth of assets.  He lived on the water in a wealthy neighborhood of Lloyd Harbor.  However, I met him after his wife passed away and at that time he presented me with a Trust plan that included a Will that he had purchased from a well-known store.  He executed the Will at a local bank.   And he told me that it was very inexpensive, about $50.00 for the document and he typed it up.   I tried to explain to him the possible issues that could occur but he insisted it was fine and he was not spending the money on an attorney to draft a Will when had one so cheap.   Well, after his death, his relatives filed Objections – they contested the Will.   I conducted the deposition of the witnesses at the 1404 EBTs allowed by the Court rules and the witnesses really could not remember what he said that day, if he was of sound mind, or really anything other than the fact that they recognized their signature.   After the depositions were over with, I knew that we may not get the Will admitted to probate since the witnesses could not testify if all the requirements were met when executing a Will.    The estate spent over $28,000.00 defending and trying to probate the Will.  A settlement was reached which admitted the Will to probate but the Estate ultimately was not distributed as the decedent wanted. 


The attorneys will draft the Will, take notes, and all necessary precautions when it’s executed to ensure that the Will is admitted to probate and that decreases and eliminates litigation.  The attorney is also another witness to the execution and what the decedent truly intended. 


Do not be like others and James Brown, but do update and plan you Estate because it does “feel good,” when it’s done.   And done correctly. 






About BonnieLawston

I am an Estate Attorney. I have been practicing for over 18 years. We handle contested matters, litigation, administration of estates and trusts, creation thereof as well as elder planning, preparation of Wills, trusts, power of attorney, living will and health care proxy documents. We are a full service firm in that we handle sending people out to secure a vacant home, do repairs if needed, secure the home, to filing the papers and obtaining the necessary court orders to administ the estate. Many of our clients live outside of New York and serve as the fiduciary of the estate. The estate must be in New York - the decedent must have some property in New York for us to help the executor. We offer senior citizen discounts, other types of discounts, hourly and percentage retainers. If the client and estate qualifies, we can offer a retainer whereby our office is paid at the end of the estate of upon collection of an asset so that no money is laid out thus it is not a hardship for the family. Please contact us and let us help you.
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