It was only one month ago we lost two iconic celebrities who also happened to be family. Character actor, writer and loving philanthropist Carrie Fisher (best known for her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars) passed away on December 27, 2016 after suffering a major heart attack. The next day, her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, followed her to the next life after suffering a severe stroke. Both Fisher and Reynolds had long, prolific careers and will be missed by both the industry and the public. And while their deaths are still fresh in the minds of the public, the last thing on anyone’s mind is the California Probate Code, which may already have requirements that must be addressed.
Celebrities like Fisher and Reynolds are often viewed as having the perfect life, only friends and family are aware of what’s happening behind the veil. What ardent fans don’t often see when it comes to the death of a beloved celebrity is the grief felt by those they left behind and the trouble that can follow in their personal lives if the deceased doesn’t have their house in order when they pass. It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity or a box store clerk; when someone dies, they don’t just leave behind a legacy. Every family must arrange a funeral and organize or manage the deceased’s estate.
For the majority of us, that means going through a simplified probate process, which allows for a much easier allocating of the deceased’s assets. For anyone whose assets are greater than $150,000 or for those who own real estate, this can become a lot more arduous, especially if there’s no will or trust, a lot of insurance matters, community property issues or family conflicts. Attempting to handle this all yourself could turn into a long, stressful process in an already highly emotional situation. It’s always better to, at the very least, consult a lawyer when having to deal with probate so that you can be proactive. This will help limit the problems that may arise and simplify the process, which will allow family members and friends to grieve and remember their loved ones in peace.