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Phone: 201-345-3018

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Dean Smith's generous estate planning choice

Many New Jersey residents have seen media coverage of the generous gift that former basketball coach Dean Smith left for the players he worked with over the years. Smith, who is widely considered one of college basketball's most beloved coaches, used a revocable trust within his estate planning strategy to gift $200 to 180 of the young men who passed through his program. Not only is his generosity to be applauded, but the method through which he structured his estate also deserves admiration.

A revocable living trust is a vehicle that is created during an individual's life, and which gives individuals the power to change their mind about the trust and any assets held within. The trust is funded in much the same way as other forms of trusts. Assets are transferred in, but if the trust is dissolved during one's lifetime, those assets can be put to other uses.

One of the benefits of a revocable living trust is that it affords an individual a high degree of privacy. In the case of Dean Smith, the gifts became public knowledge when many of the former players posted photos of the checks and accompanying letters on social media. While those who knew Smith say that he did not intend to draw attention to the gifts, the widespread coverage of the act has touched a great many people. Another benefit of such a trust is the fact that the assets held within are exempt from the probate process, making it far simpler to pass wealth along to the intended recipients.

In creating a revocable trust in New Jersey or elsewhere, it is important to add that any assets that are not included within the trust must be addressed in a will or other estate planning tool. Personal property, vehicles and real estate that is intended to pass to various heirs must be handled through a will or other form of trust. In the example provided by Dean Smith, a revocable living trust was an excellent choice for leaving a gift to the players that shaped his coaching career, as well as an example of generosity that has touched people across the nation.

Source: Bloomberg Business, "Dean Smith's Generosity Got Lots of Press. His Estate Plan Deserves Some Too", Suzanne Woolley, March 27, 2015

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