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The Legacy of Kirk Douglas

Published on March 14th, 2020

The legendary actor, Kirk Douglas, died on February 5, 2020 at the age of 103. He led a remarkable life, and his acting legacy will certainly be carried on. However, it’s another legacy that I believe he would probably be more proud of, is the fact that he gave away most of his assets to charity. Kirk Douglas allegedly died with a $61M estate, $50M of which was given to the Douglas Family Foundation. 

This is the type of estate planning that is so powerful. The federal estate tax exemption is $11.58M currently. So the balance of the estate that did not go to the foundation, passes to his beneficiaries, estate tax free. Then 100% of the distribution to the foundation, is also estate tax free. Essentially, the planning Mr. Douglas had done, eliminated the need to pay the government additional taxes upon his death. This is huge. 

Now although tax planning is a great reason to give your estate to charities, the more impactful part is the ability of his family to benefit the many charities he was passionate about, for decades to come. If there was no estate plan done, the money would have gone to attorneys, judges and court systems, while the estate goes through probate. Further, the IRS would get a share of his estate up to 40%. Now, the family can do everything privately. They can liquidate all of the real estate, bank accounts, portfolio accounts, life insurance, etc., at their own pace, without the prying eyes of TMZ or other media outlets.

It’s important for everyone to get their estate plan done sooner rather than later with the help of an estate planning lawyer in Schaumburg, IL. Sometimes you have a diagnosis that forces you to do it, since it’s forefront in your mind. But many times, it’s a sudden death, and the family is torn apart, both emotionally and financially. The planning should be done when you are healthy and cognizant of what your wishes and legacy will look like. We all read the stories of how Prince died, in an elevator in his home. He did not have an estate plan in place. To this day, his family is still in probate court, figuring out who gets what in the estate, while spending hundreds of thousands on attorney fees.

Thanks to Bott & Associates, Ltd. for their insight into estate planning and the legacy of Kirk Douglas.

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