2 recent sudden deaths of television personalities once again give us lessons in what to do when it comes to our own planning.
First, Bob Simon. Simon was the Emmy-winning “60 Minutes” correspondent for CBS. He left behind an estate worth roughly $2 million. The financial details were contained in a will signed by Simon in October 2009 and made public Wednesday. Simon left his wife, Francoise Simon, a $1 million Hamptons home and another $1 million in stocks and other publicly traded investments. His daughter and the couple's grandchild is not mentioned in the will.
While Simon was smart in completing a will, a simple trust would have kept both his plan, and the details of his personal finances private. Simon also missed the chance to provide protection for his daughter or grandchildren. His wife is free to remarry, and intentionally or unintentionally disinherit their child.
In contrast, Bravo Network's fitness star Greg Plitt -- who was hit and killed by a commuter train -- did not even have a simple will. Now his family is trying to ensure his million dollar estate ends up in the right hands with very limited tools at their disposal.
Plitt died tragically earlier this year while shooting a commercial for a sports drink in California. He lost balance while recording a segment, and ended up crushed by a commuter train. The 37-year-old did not have a spouse or child when he died -- and according to court documents filed by his father, who is seeking to control his son's estate.
Without a will, the state he last resided in will determine which of his heirs will be able to inherit. This may be far different from who he would have wanted to benefit from his assets. Further, there will be no restrictions on any distributions made. That means if his 18 year old brother receives $100,000 of his estate, he is free to blow that money anyway he wishes.