It can be tough to talk about death and what happens when we’re gone, but planning is so important, and not having your affairs in order can leave behind a legal mess for loved ones. Here to talk about estate planning this morning and how we can get started is Attorney and author Danielle Mayoras.

WMYD: Thank you so much for being here with us this morning.

Danielle: Thank you so much for having me.

WMYD: So, why is it so important to have a will?

Danielle: Well, if you don’t have a Will, the state you live in has one waiting for you, and most of us don’t want somebody else making our decisions about who our money goes to and how. So, if you want to have control over your choices, you need to make a will, at the very least.

WMYD: How old should you be to start putting a Will together? Because I am at the age where I’m beginning to acquire equity, money, and things like that. But you know, also in my twenties, I’m like, well, you can’t will your rented apartment away.

Danielle: Right—when do you start? That’s a great question. Estate planning begins at 18 with Powers of Attorney because, God forbid, you don’t want to go through the probate court system if you’re in an accident. We’ve seen what’s gone on with different celebrities in the news and other loved ones we may have. You really want to start thinking about this at 18.

WYMD: That’s crazy—I need to catch up then. So, you know, but what you said too, it’s, you know, I feel behind, but then there’s been celebrities that have, you know, left behind millions of dollars.

Danielle: It happens every single day. We’ve seen a lot of celebrities who have no planning whatsoever. Like Prince, he didn’t even have a simple will when he passed away. And that led to all sorts of complications in the court system because no one knew who he wanted to leave his money to. People were coming out of the woodwork, so it’s always better to do the planning.

WMYD: Is it ever a good idea to assume? Because in my situation, I think everything will go to my mom. I don’t have kids. I don’t have a husband. Should we make a plan, just in case?

Danielle: Absolutely. You can never assume with our court system. That’s a mistake a lot of people make. They think, ‘I’ve been married to this person for 50 years, so everything’s automatically going to go to my spouse,’ but it doesn’t work that way. The court sometimes has different plans for you if you don’t put your wishes in writing.

WMYD: And you never know what a judge will decide compared to what you want and what you know you want. How do you get started—what is the first step?

Danielle: That’s a great question. You want to start by having a conversation with an estate planning attorney. And I say estate planning attorney because you want to work with someone specializing in this area.

WMYD: How do you find a good one? How do you know the person you choose is the person you should be choosing?

Danielle: Be a good consumer. Ask lots of questions. It’s not how long they’ve been practicing law but how long they’ve been specializing in this area—and what percentage of their practice it is.

WMYD: And one more question. What if you write something out yourself? Does that have to be notarized? Is that a will?

Danielle: Can you do it on your own? It depends. I don’t recommend doing it on your own. No. Because we’ve seen Aretha Franklin’s estate and what’s going on there. If you put it in writing, it doesn’t have to be witnessed or notarized. But there are other things you need to sign and date it. You need to intend it to be a will—which will be more prone to family fighting.

WMYD: Danielle, thank you for being here with us this morning. Definitely insightful. It’s given me something to think about when I get home from work, so I appreciate you coming on this show and giving us some advice.

Danielle: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.


    Danielle & Andy are a husband-and-wife team, on-camera media experts, attorneys, authors, and keynote speakers. Together, they explore celebrity cases while sharing valuable legal lessons.

    The dynamic duo has served as experts for countless media sources including the Rachael Ray Show, Access Hollywood, Forbes, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, NBC Nightly News, FOX and NBC affiliates, The Associated Press, ABC News, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, among many others.

    In addition to authoring the best-selling book, Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, and hundreds of articles for Forbes and other outlets, the charismatic couple appears as TV hosts and legal experts on the celebrity documentary series, Fortune Fights, on the REELZ network.