Warren Burger, the former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, passed away in June of 1994, leaving behind him what some have called a “woefully inadequate” will that cost his estate thousands of extra dollars in probate court.
Warren Burger typed his own will on his home computer, and at only 176 words in length, it was filled with spelling errors and inadequacies. Among other problems, the will failed to give his executors the power they needed to sell real estate, pay taxes, and otherwise manage his estate. Because of this, his executors were forced to get a probate court’s permission to dispose of the property.
By crudely splitting his assets in such a short document, Burger’s 1.8 million dollar estate was subject to taxes totaling over $450,000 dollars. The entire probate process and this huge chunk of money spent could have been avoided if Warren Burger had hired an attorney to plan his estate before his death.
Although most Americans have an estate that is less than $600,000, and are therefore exempt from estate taxes, it is still essential for virtually every person to have a will. Cases that are forced to go through probate court become public record and are available for public scrutiny. No one wants the general public to have easy access to his or her private business. Through proper and complete estate planning, Warren Burger certainly could have avoided the destruction of privacy that happened to his own affairs.
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Darol Tuttle, Attorney at Law, P.S. services clients in Washington State to include Thurston County, Pierce County, King County and Snohomish County to include cities such as Olympia, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Federal Way, Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, Seattle, Burien, Des Moines, Renton, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Seattle, Lynnwood, Edmonds and Everett.