Tony Hsieh, the 46 year-old co-founder and leader for 20 years of Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer, died of smoke inhalation in an accident recently. It was revealed in court papers filed by his father and brother, who applied for appointment as special administrators of his estate, that Hsieh died without leaving a will. If he had prepared a will, a petition to the court would not have been necessary.
Hsieh was in good health and his death was unexpected. This is a further example of why it is so important for everyone owning any personal property or real estate to, at the very minimum, have a will. And this is a case in which more is better – if your property (your estate) is valued at more than the exempt amount specified by state law – you should also have a trust. A trust is a contract among you, as grantor, your trustee(s), and your beneficiaries that is not subject to public scrutiny or court supervision, whereas a will must undergo court-supervised probate.
You should also have in place a financial power of attorney, a health care/mental health care power of attorney, a release for a designated recipient of your private HIPAA information and a living will, also called an advance direct.
Hsieh’s story is just one of many cases of wealthy and high-profile individuals who have died without making provisions in case of death or illness. In recent memory Aretha Franklin and Prince, both with large estates, come to mind. Think also, of the long-running court battle over Michael Jackson’s estate. We tend to get caught up in the busy-work of daily life while putting aside those plans that are most important. Don’t let your family be caught short in the event of your death or serious illness: make your estate plan now.
Call Agins Law Firm, PLC at (480) 401-2660; we will be glad to help you prepare your estate plan. Please contact us before the unexpected happens to you.