For the Scripps family, who were heirs to a media fortune, they simply spent their millions. According to an article on CNBC.com, “The Greed Report: Not a billionaire? You still need an estate plan,” they took luxury cruises around the world and family outings to strip clubs.
Melissa Scripps bought Queen Elizabeth II's coronation chair and Queen Victoria's nightgown. Like his mom, son Michael liked to buy war memorabilia and guns. Oh, and he married a stripper.
When the well ran dry, the family started to fight. Mother and son turned on each other, one family member went to prison and tarnished a name once associated with entrepreneurship and philanthropy. This tragedy provides some lessons for the rest of us.
Everybody needs estate planning in some form or another—it doesn't need to be complex in many situations but everyone needs a plan, even those with social problems, financial problems and marital problems.
A good estate plan will consider all of those problems and keep your assets in the family and away from the government and taxes.
Estate planning doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. Estate planning is sometimes 95% social work and 5% legal, some attorneys say. The legal part they know—it's the social part that takes time. The Scripps family probably should have spent more time on the social part as well: Melissa Scripps' attorney said that at the time she inherited the family fortune, she had never held a real job and only had a high school education.
Maybe some more estate planning might have prevented the Scripps’ century-old legacy from turning into a gigantic family feud.
Reference: CNBC.com (Sept. 22, 2016) “The Greed Report: Not a billionaire? You still need an estate plan”