Page 28 - 01B_CL7_FEB22.indd
P. 28

George Halas, Prince and a Chicago cop
 What could those three people possibly have in common? Horrendous estate planning.
Not having an estate plan
Having a will or no will as an estate plan = probate
 Let’s dispense with Prince first and then find out why George Halas and a Chica- go police officer have been unofficially ranked No. 1 and No. 2 as the two worst estates the decades-long chief judge of Cook
If there’s a will, there are relatives. And if there isn’t a will, there are even more relatives.
A will is merely your wishes that a probate court fol- lows to distribute your assets. A last will and testament must be probated. This rule comes from the law that
County Probate has ever heard.
The musician Prince died on April 21, 2016. He had no estate
plan. Six years later, his estate, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, is still in the predictable mess of the probate court system. Because Prince left no estate plan, the state is left to determine how much his estate is worth and who will receive it.
Having a plan, but not a good plan
If it sounds unimaginable that someone with assets, royal- ties and a legacy eventually worth billions didn’t plan for the inevitable day he wouldn’t be here, the list of well-known peo- ple who did the same is longer than this magazine. The court ordered Jackie Onassis’s personal property sold to pay other- wise avoidable estate taxes. James “Tony Soprano” Gandolfini had a will but not a marital trust, and because of that mistake, his estate paid the IRS $30 million and his 13-year-old son end- ed up in the center of, you guessed it, a probate battle. Aretha Franklin, Elvis, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos (that estate may never settle), Kobe Bryant — the list goes on.
George Halas: On Oct. 31, 1983, George Halas died without a living trust or a workable succession plan for the Chicago Bears. He wanted his son, Mugsy Halas, to take over the Bears, but Mugsy died suddenly in 1979 and George had never created an alternate plan. For over a dozen years, the children of Mugsy Halas and the children of his sister Virginia McCaskey battled in Cook County Probate Court — to the extent that ownership shares of the Bears had to be sold to pay for the legal fees. The Halas kids weren’t even invited to the Super Bowl. Today, many fans wish the McCaskeys had sold all their shares.
Most importantly, this mess is not what George Halas want- ed for his family or for the Chicago Bears.
The Chicago cop: A Chicago Police Officer with seven chil- dren died with a will as his estate plan to provide for his sev- en children. His kids fought each other in probate court for 18 years until there was nothing left in their father’s estate. One day I stood before the chief judge, who told me he hated this case as much as he did George Halas’ case.
Whether it was the grandchildren of George Halas and the future of the Chicago Bears or the children of a Chicago Po- lice Officer and a family’s entire savings and legacy, none of it should have happened, and all of it should have been avoided.
no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, if you die with assets in your name, a probate court judge must ap- point an executor to sign your name for the asset transfers to your named beneficiaries. If you do not have a will, the court
determines who receives your assets.
The system cannot handle everyone’s estate. Therefore, it
can take years to get through the process. And that is if no one contests, which is very easy to do.
The police officer’s kids fought with each other because they could. Every example I gave above was easily avoidable.
Living trusts avoid probate
I have spent more time in probate court than I ever want to remember. You know the feeling. So I dedicated my career to helping people avoid the system and keep their affairs private and their families at peace with each other and grateful. No matter who we are, that is a legacy we deserve.
The first hurdle of planning is just getting it done. Estate planning is not high on anyone’s list. But we all know how un- certain life is, and none of us are getting out of this thing alive. And none of us know when we will go.
To avoid massive headaches and expenses for your family and give yourself peace of mind now, what you need today is a living trust estate plan.
How does a living trust work?
Your real estate titles (in all states) and financial accounts are transferred from your name (avoiding probate) to your trust. Life insurance policies and deferred compensation accounts can name your living trust as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations.
A living trust estate plan includes both health care and finan- cial power of attorney documents. It also consists of a last will and testament. A will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of probate.
Finally, a living trust contains a no-contest provision, as well as beneficiary asset protection clauses.
Call my office today to lock in your FOP 33 percent reduced rate for a complete living trust estate plan.
Tom Tuohy is the founder of Tuohy Law Offices and the FOP Benefits Plan. He has been a police lawyer for more than three decades. His father was a CPD detective, and his grandfather was CPD Chief of Major Investigations. You can reach Tom at 312-559-8400 or visit his office in Oakbrook Terrace.

   26   27   28   29   30