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The importance of continuous estate planning

Florida residents have likely heard of filmmaker John Singleton. He passed away in April 2019, and at the time of his death, he only had a will that was last updated in 1993. He had at least five children when he passed, and there is speculation that he may have had two more daughters. Regardless, his lack of estate planning may make it difficult for his family to settle his estate in a timely or affordable manner.

There is some confusion as to Singleton's net worth at the time of his passing. His mother said that he had $3.8 million in assets in a probate filing, but it has also been reported that he was worth $35 million when he passed. Some believe that Singleton created a trust that is holding the additional money. However, others have said that individuals who create trusts generally create a pour-over will as well.

The will that Singleton created in 1993 did not have a clause that directed assets to be automatically put into a trust. Generally speaking, an estate planning professional would have known to do that to ensure that the time and cost of setting up the trust didn't go to waste. As the will must be probated, it is likely that additional disputes may arise before the estate is settled.

While wills may be an effective estate planning tool, it is a good idea to review them on a regular basis after they are first created. This can help to ensure that it still meets a person's needs. If a person has a trust, it may be worthwhile to create pour-over wills to ensure that a trust is funded. An attorney may help an individual review an estate plan and make needed changes.

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