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Will star's estate become embroiled in probate litigation?

Unexpectedly losing at loved one at a young age obviously presents a number of challenges. Being taken off guard by such an event can cause tremendous grief. At the same time, estate administration can also become an issue. If a person doesn't have a clear plan in place, distributing assets and squaring away other legal issues might become contentious. After all, various family members might have opinions about how things should be done if there is no will.

Of course, people can take steps to plan out their estates to prevent potential conflict during estate administration and probate. This move can be made by anyone who is 18 or older.

Many were shocked by the death of 40-year-old actor Paul Walker as the result of a car crash. Despite the fact that no one could have predicted this tragic event, Walker took precautions nearly 13 years ago by creating a will.

Reports from Forbes indicate that Walker designated all of his assets to be given to his daughter through a trust. Generally, creating a trust is a good idea when bequeathing assets to a person who isn't a legal adult. At the same time, Walker's apparent failure to update his will since it was created in 2001 could create some ripples in the form of probate litigation.

As Walker's estate goes through probate and his assets are set to be distributed, there could be challenges to his beneficiary designations. Namely, the actor's long-time girlfriend wasn't named in the will, since her relationship with Walker began after he created his estate plan. As such, there’s potential for legal a challenge on the grounds that she too should have be named as a beneficiary.

As this case shows, it's important to keep a will updated. Some beneficiaries will not change over time, but getting divorced or entering into a new relationship could affect who a person might want to include in his or her will.

Source: Forbes, "Five Estate Planning Lessons From The Paul Walker Estate." Danielle Mayoras and Andy Mayoras, Feb. 10, 2014

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