What We Can Learn About Estate Planning from John Singleton

In 1991, 24-year-old director John Singleton made a name for himself with the debut of his movie Boyz n the Hood.  The film’s success launched his career and led to his nomination for an Academy Award for Best Director. The filmmaker went on to direct and produce several more successful major pictures. Sadly, in April of 2019, news broke that Singleton passed away at the age of 51, after having suffered a stroke. Despite his success in Hollywood, the acclaimed director did what millions of Americans do each year—He failed to maintain his estate plan.

The Outdated Will

According to reports, Singleton did have a will at the time of his death. However, the document was from 1993, and was made when he only had one child, and his estate was valued at approximately 3 to 4 million. At the time of his death, Singleton had fathered several more children, and his fortune had grown to an estimated $35 million. It’s possible that Singleton did what many other people do every day — Complete their wills, store the documents and forget about updating them with current information.

According to reports, Singleton’s mother is serving as his personal representative, and there have been numerous conflicts with his children. Ideally, the famed director would have put most of his assets into a trust and taken other steps to help his family members avoid infighting and the burden and expense of probate.

The Lack of an Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney

When Singleton was admitted to the hospital, he did not have an Advance Health Care Directive in place, meaning there was not a named medical decision-maker or any instructions to his physicians regarding his care. When his mother filed a petition seeking to be appointed conservator of the person and estate, one of Singleton’s children opposed the appointment. Presently, the late director’s interests are being managed by an attorney while his mother and daughter continue their dispute over who should be conservator of his estate. Now that he has passed away, control of his finances and business interest remains the center of family strife.

The untimely death of John Singleton teaches us that procrastination and a lack of attention to estate planning will only lead to difficulties down the road. While you can’t predict when a medical crisis might occur, you do have the power to plan for your estate. At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we have the estate planning experience you need to prepare for the future. Contact us today for a free consultation. https://www.salvolaw.com/