Many Oklahoma residents are fans of director John Singleton’s innovative filmmaking. Estate planning experts warn, however, that they should not emulate his choices when it comes to making a plan for the future. Many people put off writing a will or creating a trust because they see it as a matter to be handled in the future, when they are elderly or infirm. Singleton passed away in April 2019 at the relatively young age of 51. Without an up-to-date estate plan, however, his heirs have been left to navigate a complex path through the probate courts to divide his assets.
Singleton’s will, presented to the court by his mother, dated back to 1993. At the time, he had just broken onto the entertainment world scene with the success of his film “Boyz n the Hood”. He had one daughter at the time he wrote the document. However, by the time he passed away in 2019, he had five confirmed children and two other kids whose paternity has not yet been verified. Family members also have expressed public disagreements over his diagnosis, medical treatment and plans to handle his estate. Given the outdated will, his heirs could find themselves battling it out in probate court for years.
In addition to the time and emotional energy a will contest can consume, it is also expensive. His mother reported that Singleton had assets of $3.8 million, but others have estimated his wealth at $35 million. A significant amount of that sum could be taken up by the fees to manage the estate dispute.
When people think about the future, an estate planning attorney may be able to help. Legal counsel can provide advice and guidance on creating trusts for greater privacy or ensuring that a will is up to date, producing an easier process for everyone.