Aug 20, 2009

No-Will Wang

This is a rags-to-riches tale...with an estate planning moral.

Wang Yung-chin was born in Taiwan in 1918, the son of an impoverished rice farmer. He had only an elementary school education. Despite these beginnings, he became one of the world's richest men. As the founder of Formosa Plastics, Wang had billions of assets. He also had nine children, all by different women; a woman who lived with him at his mansion in New Jersery; and a wife he never divorced.

What he didn't have: a will. So when he died recently at age 91, his heirs almost immediately began locking legal horns. Where was the estate to be administered - Taiwan, New Jersey? And who gets what portion of the vast wealth? With so many people salivating over Wang's huge financial pie, you can be sure the wrangling will last a long time, and provide plenty of work for a small army lawyers!

Wang's rags to riches story is something to admire. Obviously, his estate planning is not. It's plunged his family into chaos.

You may not have billions like Wang. And hopefully you don't have a slew of potential heirs flung around the globe. But you need an estate plan - a will, at a minimum -- every bit as much as Weng. A well-crafted will, laying out your intended distributions and beneficiaries and appointing one or more personal representatives, will protect your family from a world of woe after you're gone... and provide you peace of mind while you're still here.

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