Many Long Island residents would think that the rich and famous would be
more likely to have an estate plan in the event of their untimely death.
Sadly, this is not always the case. Even when millions of dollars are
at stake, many celebrities do not take the time for proper
estate planning. This is believed to be the case with popular Mexican singer Jenni Rivera.
Rivera tragically died in a plane crash in Mexico on Dec. 9. It is unknown
exactly if Rivera had a will or trust, but it is known that she had a
letter outlining instructions for her sister to run her music business
and care for her two minor children. One of the big issues to settle is
whether guardianship of her children be enforced by a letter.
Wills are often prepared by attorneys. However, in some states, letters
can be treated as wills if they can be proven that they were intended
to be legal documents. California, where Rivera resided, may honor the
letter if it was worded correctly.
Another issue is that 43-year-old Rivera filed from divorce from her husband
in October. At the time of her death, the divorce was not yet finalized,
which means that they were still husband and wife. This could have many
legal implications, such as what assets the husband could inherit from
Because Rivera created a company to manage her affairs, she may have a
living trust and some sort of estate plan in place, but they have yet
to be found. Time will tell if there will be family disputes over the
lack of an estate plan.
A case like this highlights the importance of creating a proper estate
plan, which includes guardianship. Rights to guardianship of minor children
are given to parents first, then relatives. In a situation like the case
above, an estate plan would eliminate any confusion as to who should take
care of the children if anything happened to one or both of the parents,
which could make the aftermath easier on the children. An experienced
attorney can assist families with creating the necessary documents to
make the transition easier on everyone.
Source: Forbes, "Jenni Rivera's Estate Heading For Turmoil," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Jan. 7, 2013