By timestaff
July 2, 2009

As the King of Pop, Michael Jackson was bound to have a complicated estate. But in the days following his tragic death last week, the biggest estate-planning hurdles have had nothing to do with the size and complexity of Jackson’s legacy. They’ve been the bare-bones elements of estate planning: having an updated will, an appointed executor for the estate and a named guardian for minors.

Estate planning is all about change: Your plan has to evolve as you marry and divorce, have children, form and cut business ties, and accumulate assets and debt — all things that happened in Jackson’s life (though, admittedly, on a very grand scale). You also have to make sure to share the details of your plan with at least one person that you trust. According to news reports, Jackson’s latest will dates from seven years ago, but there is speculation about whether a more recent version exists.

If you think you need to update your estate plan, check out these recent Money stories here and here on what to do. You don’t need to be a global pop icon with mega millions to warrant putting together a plan. As Jackson’s death shows, an estate plan is critical if you have minors: It’s the only way you, not the courts, can control who becomes the guardian of your children. Once drafted, you should revisit your estate plan every few years. Even if your circumstances haven’t changed, new estate tax rules could upend your best-laid plans. Need to find an estate planning attorney? Look for one in your area through the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

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