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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.