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Planning for the Future with Gunderson Denton
Lessons from the Estate of Tom Clancy: Careful Drafting Matters
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that in the wake of Tom Clancy’s death, a court battle has begun between Clancy’s widow and his four adult children from a former marriage. According to the WSJ report, Clancy, who accumulated considerable wealth after writing several best-selling books, left an estate with an estimated value of over $83 million. The primary issue leading to the lawsuit is: from which funds should the estate taxes be paid? Apparently, a recent revision to one of Clancy’s estate planning documents –his will—indicates that no estate taxes are to be paid out of any of his wife’s trusts. There seems to be some question about whether or not estate taxes should be paid out of a trust which benefits both Clancy’s wife as well as his children. The attorney now serving as the executor of Clancy’s estate is apparently the same attorney who drafted Clancy’s estate planning documents, including a recent revision of Clancy’s will. However, the attorney’s interpretation of the documents have been called into question by Clancy’s widow. Now that Clancy has passed, ambiguities in his estate plan have led to a conflict among his heirs.
Unfortunately, these types of ambiguities and legal problems are all too common. Sadly, this is especially true in situations involving blended families. Often, the person planning for his or her estate tries carefully to ensure that all loved ones will be taken care of after his or her death. While the possibilities for accomplishing these objectives are varied, it usually includes the creation of a will and one or more trusts. If the estate planning documents are not carefully drafted, or if a single document is revised without making corresponding revisions to other relevant documents, there is an increased risk that one’s estate will not be distributed as planned. For this reason, it is especially important to not only work with a well-qualified attorney in drafting your estate plan, but also to regularly review that plan with your attorney and ensure that all of your estate planning documents are kept current.
The attorneys at Gunderson, Denton & Peterson, P.C. are experienced in estate planning and are prepared to help you plan ahead for the benefit of your loved ones. Of course, if you have already begun to plan for your estate and would like to review or revise that plan, our attorneys are prepared to help you with that as well.
40 N. Central Avenue, Suite 1400-1532
Phoenix, AZ 85004
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