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James Brown's estate subject to more will contest, part two

In our last post, we wrote about the fights that James Brown's heirs are involved in regarding how his estate should be divided. According to Brown's will, Brown's estate was supposed to be divided between two parties - a trust fund used for his grandchildren's education and a trust fund to provide education for needy children.

Brown's will explicitly stated that if assets were not left to individuals who expected to receive them, that it was "intentional and not occasioned by accident or mistake." Regardless, the distribution of his assets is a bit different than the directions that were left in his will.

Although there is no way of knowing with certainty whether James Brown would approve of the asset distribution, there are steps you can take to help ensure the same thing does not happen with your New Jersey estate.

When individuals are creating an estate plan, they can choose who will be responsible for making sure the wishes of their will are carried out appropriately. The trustee or estate administrator can be a member of your family, a friend or a professional.

Naming a family member or friend as the trustee of your estate has advantages and disadvantages. Ideally, the person has a good idea of you want your estate divided, and he or she would follow those wishes accordingly. Unfortunately, if that person might benefit from dividing your estate in a way other than what is directed in your will, he or she may be persuaded to do so.

If a professional is responsible for distributing your assets, there may be fewer personal feelings involved with the distribution. The potential downfall is that the individual might not recognize the value of the sentimental items to be divided. Conversely, it also means the he or she would be less likely to be persuaded to divide the estate in a way that differed from the will.

Source: New York Post, "James Brown's ex-produced fighting family over his estate," Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein, 3 Aril 2011

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