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Estate plan of music icon provides valuable lessons

Last October, music fans of all ages were undoubtedly sad to hear the news that legendary musician Lou Reed had died of complications from a recent liver transplant. The long-time solo artist and lead singer for the Velvet Underground, known for his monotone singing style, was viewed by many of one of the more influential voices of the New York music scene in the 60s and 70s.

While the singer’s will was filed with the Manhattan Surrogate’s Court shortly after his passing, it wasn’t until last week that the details of his estate began to emerge after his executors, his longtime business manager and accountant, filed new documents with the court.

These filings document that the “Walk on the Wild Side” singer had accumulated a fortune approaching $30 million over the course of his long career. Indeed, the documents indicate that his manager has gathered $20,379,169 since being appointed as an executor of the estate in November, and that this sum consists largely of copyright and publishing interests. 

As for the remaining $10 million, the court filings indicate that this consists of a $7 million dollar penthouse apartment in the West Village, a $1.5 million home in the Hamptons and an assortment of various other valuable assets (cars, boats, jewelry, art, a touring company, etc.).

As for the will itself, it dictates the following:

  • The penthouse apartment, Hamptons home, all personal property and $15 million from the funds gathered by his executors are to be given to his wife, with whom he had no children.
  • $5 million from the funds gathered by his executors are to be given to his sister, as well as a $500,000 bequest to help cover care costs for their elderly mother.

From a strictly legal perspective, Reed’s estate plan serves to illustrate a few important points:

  • A carefully considered and properly executed will can enable a person to carry out their exact wishes for the disposition of their assets, including accommodating any special desire to set aside funds for the care of a loved one.
  • A carefully considered and properly executed will can help prevent prolonged and costly legal disputes among heirs.
  • A carefully considered and properly executed will, while effective in realizing estate planning goals, may not offer some of the advantages of a trust, including privacy.

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you would like to learn more about your estate planning options — wills, trusts, living wills, etc. — here in Minnesota.

Source: USA Today, “Lou Reed’s estate worth over $20M, executors say,” July 1, 2014; The New York Daily News, “Lou Reed left behind $30 million fortune,” Julia Marsh, June 30, 2014

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