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Death of Zappos CEO underscores need for estate planning

When a person in California dies without a will, it can cause difficulties for his or her heirs. This is what experts say about the recent death of the former CEO of online retailer Zappos, Tony Hsieh, who reportedly did not have a will or presumably any form of estate planning. His $840 million estate now has to go through a lengthy probate process where courts will determine who will inherit what he left behind. However, even people who do not have that level of wealth can benefit from having a comprehensive estate plan.

Having a will is a great start for an estate plan, as it can have detailed specifications about whom should inherit a particular asset. It can even include instructions for the distribution of personal belongings. It is particularly important for those people who do not wish for their property to pass to heirs as law normally dictates, but even if those desires align with the law, a will can offer clarity and speed up the probate process.

Naming an executor of the estate is also an important component of a will. It is not a choice to be made lightly, as not everyone is up to the task. No matter who an estate owner chooses, it is best to have all choices legally documented. Besides a will for after a person’s death, a living will is useful for directing care decisions for a person who is still alive. This can take difficult decisions out of a loved one’s hands and ensure that the maker of that living will has his or her wishes honored.

While the high wealth of Hsieh may help his estate through many hurdles, having a plan is no less important for anyone at any income level. Those here in California who are interested in taking action can reach out to an estate planning attorney who has the experience needed for such a large undertaking. It can save one’s loved ones a great deal of trouble and allow them to focus on their grief during a difficult time.

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