Interesting Facts About Estate Planning

The people who make a living doing estate planning probably have dozens of stories they could tell that would entrance an audience for hours. You never think of estate planning as being the source for good stories, but you would be surprised at what estate planners see and deal with on a daily basis.

For a little change of pace, we offer these interesting facts about estate planning. Some of these are fun, while others are a bit disturbing. But the more you know about estate planning, the more you can appreciate it.

The Slayer Rule

Have you ever wondered if a spouse is able to collect on a will or insurance policy if they killed their partner? The answer is no. Each state has a variation of something called the Slayer Rule that prohibits people who are named in wills or insurance policies from getting proceeds if they killed the deceased. The only caveat to the rule is that the guilt of the murderer must have been proven in a court of law.

Short Wills

In many states, wills that simply state “all to my wife” or “all to my husband” are legally binding in probate. This can apply to any person or family member, provided the will is officially filed by an attorney.

Probate Hell

When people of significant means die without a will, it can create a horrible situation for surviving family members and business associates. Some of the most famous and wealthiest people to die without a will include Prince, Martin Luther King, Kurt Cobain, John Denver, and Sonny Bono. It seems unconscionable for a former Congressional representative like Sonny Bono to die without filing a will, but this kind of thing happens all of the time.

The Power Of The Gods

If you think that the idea of power of attorney is something new or something the United States legal system created, then you are very wrong. Researchers were able to confirm the existence of a power of attorney contract that was finalized in Mesopotamia in 561 BC.

The Old Will Still Stands In Probate

The idea of having a will that leaves your estate to an heir has been around for a very long time. How long? The first recorded and recognized will was filed in 2548 BC in ancient Egypt by a man named Uah. It was unearthed when Uah’s tomb was opened, and the will left everything to his wife Teta.

Now THAT’s A Will

You would think that will of someone like Howard Hughes or former presidents would clock in as the longest will ever created, but that would be incorrect. The longest will ever filed was 1,066 pages long and contained an astounding 95,940 words. The will was filed for an Englishwoman named Frederica Evelyn Stilwell Cook, who was the daughter of a wealthy British merchant and art collector.

Bet You Didn’t Know…

Most people guess that the American government started the Smithsonian Institute, but that would be incorrect. The funds and the instructions for starting the Smithsonian Institute were part of the will of James Smithson who was a British chemist who died in 1829.