In this issue
Larry Lussky: You're handed the helm of the Titanic right before you're going to hit the iceberg.
Richard Francis: You're not handed the helm. You have to pry off the fingers of the guy steering the ship, who doesn't see what's up ahead.
Larry Lussky: You know that unless you do something real quick, you're going to hit the iceberg, you're going to blow up.
Soon after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died, reporters lined up in the Surrogate's Court in lower Manhattan to purchase a copy of her will, which was a public document. But to estate planning lawyers the will is of interest because Mrs. Onassis made use of a charitable lead trust, a device which is not well known. For the owner of a family business, the charitable lead trust can be a powerful planning tool.
In the public's mind, private foundations are billion-dollar money machines funded by America's super-rich families. In reality, most of the estimated 20,000 family-managed foundations have assets of less than $5 million.
Life insurance is almost always an important part of an estate plan for family business owners. Yet many owners I know devote little attention to selecting a qualified life insurance agent. Too often, they choose on the basis of price and premium considerations alone. Typically, the agent selected is the person nearest at hand—a golfing partner, the agent who handles the family's home or automobile policy, a nephew who recently was graduated from college and has begun work in a life insurance company.