4 Estate-Planning Lessons From Michael Jackson
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Learn from the pop icon’s concise plans for handling his assets and caring for his family.
For a man who lived so controversial a life, Michael Jackson did something surprisingly sensible before his death.
He set up a smart estate plan.
Jackson’s will provides for the care of his loved ones. A separate document gathers his assets — said to be over $500 million, exceeding his debt by about $200 million - into a trust, ensuring that his affairs stay (mostly) out of the courts and (ideally) out of the public eye.
Far from being wacko, the arrangements set the stage for an orderly disposition of his chaotic empire, says Todd Reinstein, an estate-planning lawyer in Los Angeles. And although challenges could roll in like the California surf, this plan is so well crafted that it just might hold up – unless another will emerges.
Here’s what you can learn about estate planning from the King of Pop.
Write a will.
A no-brainer? Actually, about two-thirds of Americans neglect to take on this basic estate-planning chore, allowing a judge to divvy up their assets by default according to state law. Had Jackson been similarly remiss, his property would have been split among his three children, as dictated by California law. Instead, he divided it the way he wanted to, reportedly leaving 40% of his estate to the kids, 40% to his mother, Katherine Jackson, and 20% to charity.
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