A Shocking Early Death
I was sad to hear Luke Perry died suddenly on March 4, 2019 after two strokes at the young age of 52. For those of us who watched him on Beverly Hills 90210 or Riverdale, his death was shocking. It was also an unpleasant reminder of why everyone needs to have an estate plan. No matter what our age, we never know what the future will bring.
Luckily for his family, there doesn't appear to have been unnecessary drama. This may be because Luke Perry created an estate plan that included a will or trust and advance directives after a health scare four years earlier. In 2015 Luke Perry had a colonoscopy and was diagnosed with pre-cancerous growths in his colon. The growths were removed and Luke Perry threw himself into promoting the need for preventative screenings. He was a spokesperson for Fight Colorectal Cancer's "One Million Strong" campaign. Reports are the 2015 health scare gave Luke Perry the incentive to get his estate planning in order.
The Decision to Remove Life Support
Although we don't know which family member(s) made the sad decision to take Luke Perry off life support, his two children and fiancee all appear to have been in agreement about the decision. Advance directives allow the person on life support to make his or her own decision in advance. Without an advance directive or living will, the next of kin has the burden of making the difficult decision to remove a loved one from life support. This is a gut-wrenching decision. The next-of-kin family member who makes the decision may second guess it later and other family members may be hurt and angry by the next-of-kin's choice for years to come. A living will can prevent these types of family disagreements and divisions. Advance directives can also prevent intrusive and costly court hearings if there is a disagreement among family members about whether to remove life support.
Reports are that Luke Perry left his entire estate to his two children. At this point, it is not clear whether Luke Perry had a will or trust or both. It is also not clear whether he made any plans in a will or trust for his fiancee. Because he died tragically before they were married, his fiancee is not entitled to inherit under his will or trust as a spouse. Unless he included a separate individual gift to his fiancee in his planning documents, she would not be entitled to inherit as a matter of law from his estate. This demonstrates why it is so important for every unmarried individual with a significant other to include his or her partner in a will or trust. Otherwise, your partner could be left destitute and your assets could go to a family member you do not like under the laws of intestacy.
We're here to help. Call 704.887.5242 to get advance directives and the peace of mind that comes from having them.