Lee Radizwill, the always stylish and elegant younger sister of Jacqueline Kennedy, died in March of this year. True to form, she had a thoughtful and well-considered estate plan. It was so nicely done that Forbes magazine characterized Radizwill's estate plan as reflecting her "refined elegance."
So here's the scoop on Radizwill's elegant estate plan. She had a revocable living trust and a will that was probably what we refer to as a "pour-over" will. Many of our clients have a similar "elegant" estate plan.
The advantage of this type of revocable trust plan is that you can keep the asset and beneficiary details private, avoid probate, and ensure a smooth transition to your beneficiaries. In contrast, wills have to be probated and probate is not private.
A revocable trust can be updated as your life changes. The grantor (person who establishes a trust) may revoke or amend the trust during his or her lifetime. A revocable trust trust becomes irrevocable at the grantor's death and the assets may be distributed outright to the beneficiaries or flow into subtrusts.
Pour-over wills work hand-in-hand with a revocable trust. Usually, the only beneficiary under a pour-over will is the companion trust. This means the details of the trust assets and beneficiaries do not need to be listed in the will itself. Therefore, the details of the trust remain private. When Radizwill's will was filed for probate in New York, it became clear that she had created a revocable living trust in 2017.
Radizwill's trust apparently contained an ongoing trust for her daughter. By using cascading trusts or subtrusts, a revocable trust can keep assets in a family line. With Radizwill, trusts were somewhat of a family tradition. Her planning referenced several trusts - one established for her by her mother, one established with her sister, Jacquelyn Kennedy, and a trust for her daughter.
For more information about how to create your own elegant estate plan, call 704.887.5242 to schedule a consultation with our Charlotte estate planning attorney, Nancy Roberts.