Estate Planning Mistakes of Celebrities Part 3: Michael Crichton Didn’t Update His Estate Plans, Leaving His Wife and Baby Empty-Handed

Forgetting to amend your Will or Living Trust when your marital status changes, or if there is a new addition to the family, or in other major life circumstances, could leave someone that you love empty-handed.  The name “Last Will and Testament” holds true in this case; be sure that the last version is the most current one.
Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park and numerous other blockbusters, never updated his 2007 Will, even though he was dying of throat cancer and his fifth wife was pregnant.  His Will even included language disinheriting any future children.
His wife, who was not an heir due to a prenuptial agreement, went to court to fight for their newborn to be included as an heir and to be appointed guardian of the son’s property.  Crichton’s 20 year old daughter from a previous marriage opposed the request.  California, as with most other states, has laws called “pretermitted heir” laws to protect children that are accidentally omitted so that they can still receive a considerable portion of the estate. 
His wife’s lawyer had to try to convince a California probate judge that the clause disinheriting future children in Crichton’s Will did not remove the estate from the accidentally-omitted child law.  Ultimately, Crichton’s baby inherited part of his estate. Whether this is really what Chrichton would have wanted no one will never know.  What we do know is thatCrichton could have saved his wife and his older daughter a lot of stress and headache had he simply updated his estate plan when she was pregnant.
Here at The Fairfax Estate Planning Law Firm of Evan H.  Farr, P.C., we advise that a Will should be revised when there is a major change in an individual’s life, such as marriage, divorce, or pregnancy, and should be reviewed annually for changes in the law.  If someone fails to update their Will and/or Living Trust, it may not accurately convey their wishes when they die.
Planning a second or subsequent marriage?  Even if you have already completed an estate plan of your own, a new marriage typically calls for significant changes to your plan.  Evan Farr is a trained mediator and can mediate pre-marital contracts with couples who are planning to enter into a second or subsequent marriage.  The goal is always to prepare the pre-marital agreement and then do the subsequent estate planning for the couple.  If you are getting remarried or have another life changing circumstance, be sure to call The Law Firm of Evan H.  Farr, P.C.  to update your estate planning documents to account for these or other significant life events. 
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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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