Why Burt Reynolds had a Trust and why you should too.

Burt Reynolds may have played some silly characters on the silver screen, but appreciated the value of creating an estate plan designed to maximize the legacy he left his family and avoid the bright glare of further publicity. Unlike some celebrities (Sonny Bono, Prince and most recently, Aretha Franklin) who die without a will or estate plan, the star of ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ created a Trust.

Celebrities and well-known millionaires are not the only people that value privacy or want to leave their hard-earned estate to loved ones. An estate plan that includes a Trust furthers these objectives.

What are the benefits to having a well-drafted Trust?

  1. Privacy and Control: Avoid Probate Court. You are in control of who sees your Trust, the Trust does not get filed in Court, unlike your Will. More importantly, you remain in control even after your death. With a Trust, you make the decisions about what happens to your assets, rather than leaving it to the Court.
  2. Creditor & Spendthrift Protection: You often do not know how well your children or heirs will handle money or what their circumstances will be when you die. Even an inheritance of $25,000 can be mishandled by an 18-year old. A Trust can allow you the flexibility and control of your assets upon your death for as long as you decide. This is a crucial benefit. It can protect your assets from a child’s creditors, divorce or even a spendthrift. If you want to make sure your hard-earned assets benefit only your intended heirs, you need a Trust.
  3. Tax Benefits: Estate Taxes and Retirement Accounts. Many states have an estate tax in conjunction with the Federal estate tax. It may not feel like you are a “millionaire,” but in Massachusetts, you can easily be one at death. The definition of assets that make up an estate for tax purposes is very inclusive. It even includes assets that may not ever go through your estate. For example, that term-life insurance policy (hopefully you have one) is considered an estate asset and depending on its value could automatically create an estate tax liability for your estate. With proper planning, you can avoid this problem, pass more money to your family and give less to the state in taxes. Other assets such as pre-tax retirement accounts could also create unintended tax consequences without proper estate planning. The right Trust can help to pass more of these assets on to your family.
  1. Legacy: What about that vacation home that has been in the family for generations? Or, the art, jewelry, antiques and heirlooms that you inherited? Or the work ethic and family values that helped you build your wealth, don’t you want to pass that on to your children? A Trust can be used to guide your children and help them develop a work ethic and responsible attitude toward money in the unfortunate circumstance that you are not there to guide them.

You do not need to be a celebrity, have millions of dollars or have a gated driveway with security to need an estate plan. A well drafted estate plan is important for everyone. Many of us spend hours planning a vacation or leave the babysitter a folder full of information just so we can escape to dinner for a few hours. Doesn’t your legacy deserve at least that much attention? Would you prefer to leave these decisions up to a Judge who does not know your family; decisions that could have consequences for the rest of their lives? The truth is, we all have an estate plan. If you do not spend the time to create one, the state has a one-size-fits-all plan for you.

Reach out to an experienced Estate Planning attorney to take the first step. And, if you already have an estate plan, have it reviewed periodically. Laws change. Your life is dynamic, your estate plan should be too.

Contact Sharna at Demoura|Smith to discuss your Estate Plan, 781-914-3778 or email sfavuzza@demourasmith.com.

Categories: Blog Posts, News
Posted on Oct | 2018
Experienced Advocates | Effective Solutions