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Why celebrities should not choose wills as estate planning tools

When faced with various estate planning options, many New Jersey residents may choose wills. For those without a lot of assets, a will may be sufficient. However, for celebrities with millions of dollars in assets, wills offer no privacy. This is especially true in the case of singer Lou Reed.

Instead of using a revocable living trust – like celebrities and other wealthy people tend to do – Reed used a 34-page will, which he signed in 2012. The main difference between a will and trust is that all the details of a will are made public.

Reed was worth around $30 million when he died from liver disease in October 2013. Since his death, his estate has continued to earn money through royalties, to the tune of more than $20 million. Reed’s wife and sister are to receive $10 million, with his wife to also receive nearly $9 million in property. The two executors are receiving $220,000 for their efforts.

All of this information was made public because Reed chose to use a will over a trust. Had he used a trust, nobody would have known any of this information. Instead, journalists are reporting every little detail about the man’s estate.

Not only that, but wills must go through probate, which is costly and time-consuming. Plus, it is easier to challenge a will than a trust. Unfortunately, the contents of a will have caused many family disputes. Many heirs are dissatisfied with what the deceased loved one has left them, which leads to more stress and courtroom battles. Hopefully that won’t happen in this case.

Source: Forbes, "Lou Reed Walked On The Wild Side With His Estate Planning", Danielle and Andy Mayoras, July 10, 2014

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