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Estate planning lessons from Dean Smith

College basketball fans in Florida probably remember Dean Smith as the four-time coach of the year who led the North Carolina Tar Heels to 11 Final Fours and 2 national championships during a remarkable 36-year career. Smith's accomplishments in college sports may deserve admiration, and his estate plan might also be viewed as an example to others.

Smith passed away in February 2015, and his planning may have gone unnoticed if several of his former players did not publicly thank the coach for his generosity. Reports suggest that the coach established a revocable living trust that provided a small payout to a number of individuals who played on his team during his career. Unlike wills, trusts are private arrangements, and assets transferred into a trust are not subject to probate. A trust also allows benefits to be paid in installments.

However, living trusts may not be for everybody. They are more complex to set up than a will, and administration costs may also apply, limiting the device's use in some cases. It may also be prudent to draft a will when a living trust has already been established. Such wills may be used to bequeath assets that have not been placed into the trust's ownership.

Establishing a living trust and drafting a pour over will might help to ensure that a benefactor's legacy is transferred to heirs and beneficiaries according to their wishes. An attorney with experience in this area could explain more the benefits of this type of arrangement to those who seek the peace of mind that comes from having a comprehensive estate plan in place. That attorney may also be able to draft the necessary paperwork to establish such devices.

Source: Bloomberg, "Dean Smith's Generosity Got Lots of Press. His Estate Plan Deserves Some Too," Suzanne Woolley, March 27, 2015

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