Naomi Judd cut her daughter's out of her own will. My name is Andrew Ayers. I'm an estate planning attorney with offices in Edina, Minnesota and New York City. And today we're going to talk about what could be the next big celebrity estate plan scandal in the media. However, I think when we dig into it, you're gonna find out that there's really not much to the story. So over the weekend, I was reading some stories that Wynonna Judd has some problems with the way her mother Naomi created her estate plan. Now, my first thought was we've recently had a bunch of these pop up in the media. We've had George Jones' lost tapes and who's going to own those, we've had Tom Petty and his widow fighting with his kids, and then we've had here in Minnesota Prince's estate, which has been going on year after year after year, as they sort out what to do with all of his assets, and the government tries to get their taxes out of it. And we tried to figure out who's entitled to inherit. So when I saw that Naomi Judd was the next in the law minor celebrities to have an estate plan fight. I thought, here we go again. I wonder what we're going to be dealing with here. However, let's dig into it and see that in fact, there's really not much to see here. There's a bunch of smoke, but there really isn't any fire. So before she died, Naomi and her daughter Wynonna were a country music duo. They put out a bunch of music over the years and were very successful. Now there's also a second daughter Ashley, who's an actress, very famous actress has been some amazing movies. So what we've learned in the past week is that Wynonna is contesting her mother's will. Apparently Naomi had put together well that leaves her entire state her husband of 35 years Larry. Now they estimate this tape is worth about $25 million. And the interesting thing here is that Ashley's not contesting any of this. What they think may be happening is that Wynona spent all of her money and she needs the money that she thought she was going to be inheriting from her mother. However, there is not necessarily legal right for her to inherit from her mother. And in fact, the will was created five years ago. So this isn't something that was created on her deathbed or right before she died. And she was creating an estate plan that essentially said, If I die, my assets go to my husband. She was married to him for 33 years 28 at the time she made the will so this is not one of those fly by night get married April 1 signed into will and April 2. But apparently Wynonna has a problem with this and it'll be interesting to see how the courts deal with this. Because realistically, this is not something that's out of the ordinary. You may be wondering why this is even an issue. Well, sometimes children feel that they're entitled to something from their parents estate. Now, if you're living in this state, and you die without a will, you're dying intestate, and that means that the state's law is going to control what happens to your assets. And in those situations, it is relatively common that the children will also inherit as well as the spouse well. However, when we have a situation like here, where I have a will that was drafted, drafted five years ago, and seems pretty straightforward that if he's still alive, the husband inherits that's probably going to be upheld by the courts. What some people worry about this case of what do we do with unequal inheritances? So let's say we have two children. In this case, we have Naomi and this case we have Wynonna and we have Ashley, and we're gonna leave them different types of inheritances. What do we do in these situations? Well, it's called an unequal inheritance. And it's not that uncommon. There's a few common times and we'll see it being done. First of all, there's caregivers. So let's say Ashley was the one taking care of her mother all along. And Wynonna hadn't seen Naomi in about five or six years. It's not uncommon for you to have an estate plan that says I want to reward Ashley with a little extra money for my inheritance for taking care of me at the end. The second would be need, and this would actually go to the other side, too. Why not? So let's say you have two children, Ashley and Wynonna and Ashley has done very well in the entertainment industry with all of her movies, but why not have spent all of her money? Naomi could have created a will that said I want more money to go to Y NO,

NO because she needs the money more than Ashley does. Third type of situation which we probably don't have here is if one of the children has special needs or disability. We want to create the proper state plan maybe some special needs trusts or other special needs planning to make sure that that child or children who have special needs are taken care of. Next, if we have spendthrifts which going back to the junk van that we may have here, if in fact Wynonna has been the one who spent all that money coming in, and Ashley has been a very good saver of all of her assets and all of her money. Well, you may not want to just give the money to to Wynona because you think she may just spend whatever you give her whereas it may be more prudent to invest the money, maybe put it into a trust and leave it to her so that she can't spend it all at once. You can also equalize past gifts. So over the years if y known has been receiving all these gifts from Naomi could even be something to do with their musical acts. She's been giving more money tonight to Wynonna than she has to Ashley you could then use your will to actually equalize out those gifts. And finally, if you have blended families, so if you have children from a prior marriage or your spouse or children or prior marriage, it may be important to look at your state plan and make sure that you're leaving your money to the people you want to leave it to. So if you have six children three with your current spouse and three and your spouse's three with a former spouse, you may want to make sure that your assets all go to just your three children, whereas your spouse may want that to be spread across all six children. So now no matter what the reason that can be a variety of ways we can deal with an unequal inheritance. And it's important to understand that this isn't something you want to just trust to some DIY estate plan website that they're going to have you fill out all your different children and let's say you accidentally treat your stepchildren as if they're your biological children. And now your estates being split amongst six kids, when you really want to be only divided or most your three children. If your spouse is no longer living. So that's one of the ways you can try to do this is to get yourself but the smarter way is to speak to an estate planning professional. Make sure they understand what your goals are, who you're leaving the money to. And if we're going to do an unequal inheritance, make sure that you go through these kinds of issues to understand what the implications are and which child should be receiving. What amount of your estate, maybe your children aren't getting anything and you're going to do a trust and leave it on to your grandchildren. Whatever you want to do, what's your estate plan, like in this case, Naomi Judd said, I'm leaving the money to my husband. The children may not like it, but that's what the estate plan says. So if you're ready to get started with your estate plan, or if you have one that you need to update, you can go to my website, Andrew M There's a red scheduled legal strategy sessions button on the front page. Click that and you're taken to my calendar, where we can set up a phone call. It's about 15 or 20 minutes, we can discuss what are the best options for you and your legacy? So can Naomi cut her out? She sure can. And it looks like she probably has.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.