Q: Do I need an estate plan if I’m not wealthy?
As expected, there were plenty of comments made upon the recent passing of Playboy founder and multi-millionaire, Hugh Hefner, who generations of men touted as really knowing how to live life to the fullest. One generally comforting comment was noticeably absent…“He’s in a better place now.”
But seriously, whether you envied, admired, or loathed him based on his business success and “unique” personal lifestyle, he apparently knew how to choose a skilled estate planning attorney.
While sophisticated estate tax planning is particularly important for those with sizable estates, you don’t have to be a multi-millionaire to benefit from proper estate planning. For “regular” folks, estate planning involves not only a will and/or trust to dispose of your property after you die and appoint guardians to raise your minor children, but also other documents to manage financial, healthcare, and end-of-life medical care decisions in the event you become disabled.
Depending upon your particular situation, you might be able to avoid probate, keep your estate administration private, lower costs, and expedite the transfer of property to intended beneficiaries through the use of trusts. The last will and testament–commonly called a will–may still be appropriate for the disposition of non-trust assets, designation of guardians for minor children, and more.
No one wants to think about dying, but getting your legal affairs in order and planning for your inevitable death and possible disability can protect your family and bring you peace of mind.
And that is how Hugh Hefner might have been a role model.
Reportedly, “Hef” left about half of his estate to his four children, ages 26 to 64, about half of the estate to charities, and left his 31-year-old third wife “enough to be comfortable”. A prenuptial agreement reportedly provided she receive “$5 million, plus a house, which cost another $5 million, that Hefner purchased for her and transferred to a trust that (she) controlled.” It has been speculated that he used “some form of trust” in his estate planning and likely minimized estate taxes through charitable planning. Perhaps surprisingly to some, there are reportedly good relations among his children and third wife.
This apparent plan generously provides for his wife and children to eliminate or discourage contests, transfers trust property more efficiently to beneficiaries, feeds his favorite charities, and keeps most of the details of his estate plan private and free from the public record books.
If you need help creating an estate plan, or modifying an existing plan, or probating the estate of a loved one, the experienced attorneys at M&A Law Firm can help you. Contact us today for a consultation.
From our office in Skokie, we serve clients throughout Cook County and the state of Illinois.