Luke Perry passed away suddenly on March 4, 2019 after a massive stroke. While most people think of death and events like strokes as something that affects older people, Perry was only 52 years old. It seems that Perry did something that all of us should do – he protected his family with estate planning, and thus made both his end of life and everything that will happen going forward just a little bit easier.
MAKING DIFFICULT DECISIONS EASIER
Five days after a serious stroke, Perry’s family decided to remove life support after it was apparent that he would not recover. These decisions are always incredibly difficult for a family, especially when someone is young and was recently healthy, just as Perry was. It’s likely that he had executed either a Living Will or a Healthcare Power of Attorney, and likely both. Had he not had this document, the family could have had to go to court in order to make that decisions, especially if there was disagreement amongst family members. That usually causes delays and even more anguish for the family.
CANCER SCARE LED TO A WILL
Its been widely reported that Perry created in a will in 2015, after precancerous growths had been discovered during a colonoscopy. Scares like this lead many to think about their own mortality and do at least some level of estate planning. Not only did Perry become very active and outspoken about his cancer scare, encouraging other to get screened for cancer, he also made sure that his affairs were in order should something happen to him in the future.
He had 2 children who were 17 and 14 at the time, and are 21 and 18 now. Also, he was divorced, so no spouse. Its likely that his will left assets to his children in trust to be accessed when they hit certain ages or milestones in their lives, as well as trustees to manage those assets for them until they hit those ages or milestones. It’s also likely that his will names guardians for his children, which are no longer needed given that they’re legally adults. Hopefully, his beneficiaries on life insurance policies or retirement accounts are the trusts that he created. If the beneficiaries of life insurance policies or retirement accounts are the kids, those 21 and 18-year olds will be receiving those checks shortly.
By the time he passed away, he was engaged – unless he changed his will, his fiancée would not be entitled to any of his assets. However, if they had purchased a home together (with both names on the deed), had joint bank accounts, or had other joint assets, she would get those assets when he passed away.
No one should wait for a medical scare to get their affairs in order and create their estate planning documents. Luke Perry certainly didn’t plan to die at age 52, but his cancer scare forced him to consider the consequences of a sudden illness or passing and to put together a plan. That plan has likely made things easier for his family and will continue to make things easier as they move through the process of settling his affairs.
We can all learn from Perry’s example – life is short and precious and its not just the elderly that suffer sudden incapacity or death. Tragedy can strike anyone at anytime and protecting our families by having a plan in place is a truly amazing gift.
If you have questions about this, or any other related matters, please give us a call at 856-439-6223 in Moorestown, Burlington County, NJ or at 732-845-1929 in Manalapan, Monmouth County, NJ.