Steve McNair played 13 seasons in the NFL, was a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, played in the Super Bowl, and was a co-MVP in 2003.  Steve McNair netted a fortune during his playing years as an elite quarterback in the NFL.  Unfortunately, Steve McNair’s success on the gridiron did not translate into success in his personal life.  McNair had a run-in with the law in 2002 when he was charged with DUI and illegal gun possession.  Then ultimate tragedy struck when he was fatally shot in 2009 by a jealous mistress.  He left behind a wife and four children.  To compound this tragic situation, McNair had no will or any kind of estate plan in place at the time of his death.  His assets have been frozen and his estate is now deeply embroiled in probate.  In 2010, McNair’s widow was able to get a judge to unfreeze $2.5 million of his estate.  But the fight over his estate in court is far from over, with no end in sight.  This is a tragic example of failing to have any kind of estate plan.  Although the death of Steve McNair was undoubtedly heartbreaking for his family, it was certainly made worse by the fact that he had no estate plan.  This has pitted family members against one another fighting over McNair’s assets in court.

Although Steve McNair is an extreme example of a lack of estate planning, it does present a prime example of the pitfalls of not having any kind of estate plan.  So, what should Steve McNair have done? What should anyone do that wants to avoid probate? One of the simplest ways to avoid probate is to create a revocable living trust. When you create a trust, you create a legal entity that can hold property. This takes assets out of your name and places them in the name of the revocable living trust. You can name trust beneficiaries and trustees that oversee the management of the trust. You can include yourself as a beneficiary and trustee. By properly funding your revocable living trust, along with good financial planning, you can save your family the heartache of fighting for your legacy in the courtroom.

For additional reading on estate planning:

Estate Planning Procrastination

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