by Alexander Bader, Esq., Senior Associate, Brady & Marshak, LLP
No matter what your goals are for the legacies you wish to leave upon your passing an attorney who practices in the area of “Estate Planning” can best help those goals be achieved. Some examples of such goals are: leaving monies to a charity for a specific purpose, making sure a loved one on government benefits does not lose his or her benefits while still providing for him or her, avoiding unnecessary squabbling between heirs, making sure any specific goals are achieved in the fastest and least expensive way possible, etc.
Without careful consideration of one’s estate plan, the results can be quite different than what was intended. On the other hand, a proper estate plan can leave a legacy that impacts the world in the precise way you wish, maybe for years to come. The following are two examples with results landing at both ends of this spectrum.
Garry Shandling, a stand-up comedian, actor, director, writer, and producer whose career spanned decades and was, perhaps, best known for The Larry Sanders Show on HBO, tragically passed away unexpectedly in 2016. Though the legal specifics of his estate plan have not been made public (often a benefit of a good estate plan is one does not become public), it has recently been reported that he left $15.2 million dollars to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, earmarked specifically to benefit: the division of endocrinology, diabetes and hypertension; the division of infectious diseases; and the UCLA Agi Hirschberg Center for Pancreatic Diseases. As per UCLA’s website, Dr. John Mazziotta, vice chancellor for UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health, noted: “[t]o meet the challenge of developing the future of medicine in the detection, treatment and prevention of diseases requires committed philanthropic partners….Mr. Shandling has created a meaningful legacy by investing in research that will yield life-changing discoveries and help countless patients and their families for years to come.”
James Brown, a/k/a “the Godfather of Soul,” an innovative legend of the music industry, passed away in 2006. You may have seen recently in the news that questions have been raised about the circumstances surrounding his passing but such questions are beyond the scope of this article. Instead, our focus is on the fact that 12-plus years since Mr. Brown’s passing and based on the most recently available public information, no monies have passed to the beneficiaries of his will, beneficiaries that include underprivileged children in Georgia and South Carolina. Since his passing, the estate has been tied up in litigation on a number of fronts: questions about Mr. Brown’s final marriage, whether the Will was valid, whether one of Mr. Brown’s son’s was, in fact, biologically his son, and others.
The law is very clear about one being afforded the ability to leave his or her assets as one sees fit upon one’s passing. Without a thorough estate plan put together with an attorney and updated as circumstances change, however, the results can unfortunately end up very different than what was intended.
The contents of this article are in no way intended to be legal advice, are provided for educational and informational purposes only, and are directed only to those domiciled in the State of New York. Please feel free to call our office if you feel we can be of service to you in any manner. Our attorneys can be reached at Brady & Marshak, LLP, Attorneys at Law, (718) 738-8500.