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Luke Perry's death provides estate-planning lesson

We so often hear of celebrities who haven't created an estate plan and how their family members wind up in court, fighting over the assets, when they die.

Actor Luke Perry, who died March 4 in Southern California following a massive stroke, apparently had his estate plan figured out. He was 52.

His planning means that his family can take the time they need to grieve his loss without having to worry about managing his estate, too.

Five days after Perry suffered the stroke, when it was clear recovery was unlikely, his family decided to remove him from life support. He passed away surrounded by his two adult children and the other people most important to him.

The decision to remove the life support likely means that Perry had an advance directive or power of attorney in place to give the life-ending decision to someone he trusted. Without such a document, the family could have needed a court order.

According to reports, Perry created an estate plan in 2015 that left his estate to his two children after he learned precancerous growths had been detected in a colonoscopy.

With his estimated net worth of about $10 million, he likely had a revocable living trust to go along with his will. If that is the case, his assets can go straight to his children rather than through probate court.

Perry also left behind a fiancée, and there have been no reports that he amended his estate plan to provide for her. There are other estate-planning tools, such as life insurance, that he could have used to care for her in the future.

Perry's death was quick and unexpected, and it reminds us that death hits people of all ages. He had the foresight to act to help his family. It's never too early, and you're never too young to do the same for yours.

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