New York residents will likely remember Dean Smith for his incredible coaching career that spanned 36 years and included two national championships with the North Carolina Tar Heels. However, recent disclosures indicate that Smith's was also astute in the area of estate planning. Smith bequeathed $200 to approximately 180 of his former players, but it is not his generosity that has drawn praise.
The largesse of the legendary coach would have gone unnoticed had it not been for several of his former players sharing the news of their inheritance on social media platforms. This is because Smith chose to establish a revocable living trust. One of the chief benefits of a revocable living trust is that it keeps the details of how an estate is administered private. Wills are public documents, but assets placed in a trust do not go through probate. Another benefit of trusts is that they allow assets to be distributed to heirs over time.
A will may still be advisable even for those who have set up a living trust. A traditional will could account for assets that have not been placed in the trust, or a pour-over will may be used to add these assets to the trust. However, trusts are complex, and there are also ongoing administrative costs to consider. Benefactors should also choose their trustees carefully.
Many people put off estate planning decisions but having an effective strategy in place can provide peace of mind. An attorney with experience in this area could explain how establishing a living trust keeps estate matters private while providing a certain degree of flexibility. An attorney may also recommend that individuals consider additional estate planning tools such as a living will or health care proxy to ensure that important decisions are made in accordance with their wishes.