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Lou Reed's estate plan could have used a trust

Perhaps the most important thing any Florida resident should do when estate planning is to write and properly execute a will. Without a valid will, a person's estate passes to relatives according to state law. A valid will directs the court on how to distribute the estate according to the person's own wishes. However, a will can't do everything, and there are times when a well-crafted estate plan needs something more.

When rocker Lou Reed died from liver disease last year, he left behind a legacy of the great songs he wrote and recorded with the Velvet Underground and his long solo career. He will undoubtedly continue to be an influence on artists for many years to come. However, Reed also left behind a much more concrete legacy, and a very large one. His estate is reportedly worth more than $30 million, and that amount keeps growing.

According to paperwork filed by one of the executors of Reed's will, the estate has generated more than $20 million since the singer died last year. Reportedly, this has all come in the form of royalties and other deals administered by Reed's longtime manager, who is serving as one of the two executors. Reed's will spelled out how his estate should be distributed, with 75 percent of it going to his wife and 25 percent to his sister, with certain other provisions to deal with other concerns, care for his ailing mother.

This is a large amount of money, and certainly Reed and the people who worked for him did some things very well when it came to creating an estate plan. However, they could have avoided some potential problems had they considered distributing the estate through a trust instead of just a will. A trust can be set up during a person's lifetime to help deal with expenses. It can also keep details of a person's estate private and shelter large estates from taxes.

Few Florida residents will leave behind an estate worth anything near $30 million, but trusts can help people with more modest estates as well. Florida estate planning attorneys can help people to understand their different options and choose a plan that works for their families.

Source: Forbes.com, "Lou Reed Walked On The Wild Side With His Estate Planning," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, July 10, 2014

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