The music of jazz legend Louis Armstrong continues to resonate with listeners. His distinctive voice and skillful playing remain iconic to this day. But, it wasn’t until after Armstrong’s death that one of his deepest secrets came to light, an issue that was further complicated by his lack of a written estate plan.
When Armstrong passed away, it was assumed that he did not have any biological children. However, Armstrong had a long term secret affair, resulting in a daughter that Armstrong never told his wife about. The daughter has just recently come forward with proof that she is Armstrong’s only biological child.
The truly sad thing about this is that Armstrong wrote letters to his mistress that make it clear that he wanted to leave an inheritance for the daughter. He never got around to doing so in his estate plan and now it is too late to do anything about it.
What is the lesson to be learned from this story? The moral is not about extra-marital affairs. Rather it’s about the importance of including all intended provisions in your will or trust, in writing, before it is too late. Written documentation of your last wishes is absolutely essential to a successful estate plan, and the best way to avoid unintended consequences.
If you want something kept in secret until you pass away, there are ways to keep your plan in confidence now and only reveal things after you pass away. An qualified attorney can help you ensure the confidentiality of your estate plan.