Where There’s a Will, There’s a PlanSubmitted by Reby Advisors | Certified Financial Planners | Danbury, CT on October 25th, 2019
October 25, 2019
This article appeared in the Fall 2019 Edition of the Reby Advisors Newsletter.
Throughout history people have made inheritance choices that are inexplicable to others.
In 1926, Harry Houdini left his magical equipment to his brother, his pulled-fromthe-hat rabbits to the children of friends, and a series of random words to his wife. The words were a code that would let her know when he was in touch from the afterlife.1
In 1968, Quaker State Refining Corporation heir Eleanor Ritchey left $4.5 million to her dogs. She had 150 of them. The will was contested and, by the time it settled, the value of the estate had increased to $14 million. The 73 surviving dogs received $9 million.2
Radio and television funnyman Jack Benny set aside a significant sum of money so that his wife would receive one long-stemmed red rose every day for the rest of her life.3
In a similar vein, in 1970, Janis Joplin bequeathed $2,500 “so my friends can get blasted after I’m gone.” Today, the amount would be equal to more than $16,000.4
Don't Follow Prince's Example
End-of-life planning can be complicated and a little scary. That may be why so many people don’t do it. After musician Prince Rogers Nelson died without a will in 2016, Gallup conducted a poll and found the majority of Americans don’t have wills. Gallup reported:5
- 32 percent of Americans age 65 and older don’t have a will
- 86 percent of Americans age 30 or younger don’t have a will
- 45 percent of Americans with income of $75,000 or more don’t have a will
- 39 percent of Americans with postgraduate education don’t have a will
Not everyone has an estate like Prince, but we can all learn from the unenviable state of his estate. In 2018, The Washington Post reported:6
“This month, the six heirs filed a heavily redacted motion challenging a potential ‘entertainment transaction’ they claim would be ‘an embarrassment to Prince’s legacy.’ And three half siblings have filed a petition questioning the estate administrator’s high legal fees, noting concern that ‘at the end…there will be little, if anything left to pass on to the Heirs.’ Draining the estate is also a fear for former colleagues who yearn to see Prince’s quiet dedication to philanthropy continued.”