Conversation Starter: New book offers lessons from estates of fallen stars

Anna Nicole Smith, Ray Charles, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger ...  what do they all have in common?

They were all celebrities, theyre no longer among the living, and they all can teach us a lesson.

At least according to husband and wife legacy expert attorneys Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Mayoras, authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! The book dishes out drama using celebrity cases to highlight the importance of proper estate planning.

The Mayorases compiled and researched these high-profile celebrity cases with Danielle, who specializes in estate planning education, taking on the title of Queen of Heirs while Andrew used his probate litigation experience as King of Trials.

Satisfying readers voyeuristic side with the engaging stories of celebrity heir in-fighting isnt the books only draw.

Featured on The Rachael Ray Show, WGN Chicago, and Forbes.com, Trial & Heirs can be utilized by those seeking to spark the dreaded family discussion about planning for a loved ones passing.

We have tips to avoid family fights and we have ideas to spark family discussion, Danielle says of the book. So not only is it a good tool for the general public, but the goal was to give professionals a vehicle to start conversations with their clients...they can talk about Princess Di and Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix...really start the conversation.

And while the book provides readers with titillating true tales of celebrity courtroom cattiness at its very best, it also details how problems can be avoided. In addition, definitions of legal terminology commonly used in estate planning are placed strategically throughout the book.

I think theres a sensationalism in our culture where theres this celebrity stardom everybody wants to read about, Danielle says.We wanted to take that sensationalistic or tabloid aspect to kind of fool people. They might be reading it for the tabloid aspect but they dont realize initially that theyre getting taught and theyre learning.

But what can these celebrity stories teach the everyday person?

Celebrities families are fighting about the same issues, Andrew points out. My clients fight about the exact same issues that are in the book.

Simple common mistakes the celebrities make are the same mistakes we see everyday people making, he adds. Different dollar figures, but the concepts apply to everybody.

The response to Trial & Heirs, which came out in November, has been amazing, according to the authors.

Weve had attorneys from around the country contact us and say, I want to buy these in bulk and provide them to my clients, Danielle explains. Its a great tool for attorneys to be able to turn over especially if they have a stubborn client and maybe the client has a situation like one of the celebrities in the book to say, By the way, take a look at this case.

According to Andrew, One of the principal themes we keep saying in the book is Dont do it yourself...You need a good attorney.

The book has tips to find a good attorney and things to talk about with your attorney, he says. Its really a call to action for people to find and work with a good attorney because too many people try to do it themselves and thats what leads to a lot of the celebrity mishaps that we cover in the book.

Tabloid stories and their juicy details aside, the book provides insight into the oftentimes taboo world of estate planning.

Its a way to get people to open their eyes and think about these things and have family discussions, Andrew says. A lot of these family fights can be prevented if people are proactive and they can avoid a lot of the heartache.

By Christine L. Mobley

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