Roger Ebert passed away in April of 2013 at the age of 70 after a battle of cancer that went on for several years. Ebert was most well known as the most preeminent film critic in the United states that had a career that lasted 46 years for the Chicago Sun-Times and 31 years on TV.There are several estate planning lessons that can be learned from Roger Ebert.
The most important lesson to be learned from Mr. Ebert in planning an estate is the need to heed warnings. Many times the biggest motivations to begin planning an estate is either a health scare from a friend, family member or one that happens personally. These health events are wake calls that it is time to get your affairs in order. For Ebert one warning came in the form of his former TV co-host Gene Siskel's death in 1999 from a brain tumor at the age of 53. This type of tragic event happening to someone so close should be enough for anyone to begin thinking about making a plan for what would happen in the event one suffered their own adverse health event. Often times it takes a personal health scare to begin getting in the mindset to begin to think about planning an estate. Ebert was diagnosed with cancer in the early 2000s and went through several surgeries to remove cancerous tumors from his thyroid and salivary glands. Going through a serious health ordeal such as cancer surgery should be enough to motivate one to get their affairs in order. While a slow moving disease may be afford enough time to make a plan there are several potential quick events such as a stroke, heart attack, or car accident that could leave one incapacitated or dead very quickly without time or ability to make a proper estate plan. One key aspect of a quality plan is to have it in place before it is needed because one never knows when their time is up or when it will be too late. There is only so many warning signs and that are given and the wise will heed them and plan ahead.
Another lesson learned from Roger Ebert is to protect a legacy. Ebert lost his jaw and ability to speak to cancer in 2006. After suffering such a debilitating setback many give up or recede into the shadows and let their legacy or business wither or leave it in the hands of fate. Although Ebert was unable to speak, he remained active on the internet and print media reviewing movies up until his death. Ebert was also able to hand select movie critics that could continue on his legacy after he was gone. It is important to stay active in maintaining a legacy until the end either first hand or with the help of a professional such as an estate planning attorney.
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