World renowned celebrity chef and author, Anthony Bourdain, committed suicide on June 8, 2018. It has been widely reported that Bourdain left most of his estate, valued at $1.2M, outright to his daughter Ariane, aged 11, pursuant to his Will.
Other reports suggest that his estate planning includes a trust and may be considerably larger than the $1.2M value reported in the initial probate documents. My hunch is that the latter is the case.
But even not knowing the true estate plan, there are a few key estate planning points that can be illustrated from what we do know:
Your Will is a public document. In Maryland, when you die your Will is filed with the Register of Wills and the estate is “opened” before distributions are made. This process includes filing an inventory of assets with the Register. The Will and the inventory are public documents available to prying eyes.
- A Trust created during life may provide more privacy than a Will. Trust assets are not subject to probate. It’s possible, even probable, that Anthony Bourdain transferred most of his assets to a trust during his life. In that case, we are less likely to discover the extent or disposition of his assets.
- Giving property outright to a minor is not the best course of action. When a minor inherits property, the court appoints a guardian to protect the minor’s property. The guardian must file an inventory of the minor’s assets and annual account with the court. When the minor attains the age of majority, he or she receives the property regardless of the value. Guardianship can be time consuming, intrusive and expensive.
Additionally, many minors are not equipped to manage money at the age of 18, even if the money is a modest amount. A well drafted Will contains provisions that avoid the need for a court appointed guardian and hold back distributions until an appropriate age, which can be later than 18, for distributions to minors or disabled persons. Although this author doesn’t know for sure, Anthony Bourdain’s Will likely included such provisions.
The ideal estate plan carries out the client’s wishes, protects privacy, reduces taxes, and eliminates obstacles in administration. For most clients this type of planning is fairly straightforward and doesn’t require a celebrity-sized bank account.
If you need help drafting or reviewing your estate planning documents, reach out to us for support. We’ve got your back.
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