CNN and Fortune Magazine recently featured a fascinating article about the legal battle between John Randolph "Bunky" Hearst, Jr., and his ex-wife. Bunky is one of the grandsons of famed media mogul William Randolph Hearst, who left behind the powerful Hearst Corp.
William Randolph Hearst died in 1951 with a trust and estate worth about $400 million in today's dollars. But, more importantly, his trust established a corporate framework that enabled his board of trustees to expand the Hearst holdings into a multi-billion dollar media empire, owning hundreds of magazines, newspapers, television stations, 20% of ESPN, and more. Here is the wikipedia page about Hearst Corp. that overviews how expansive it is.
William Randolph Hearst's estate plan is a great example of how trusts can be used to maximize financial legacies and protect your heirs. While most people don't have to establish complicated boards to manage extensive business holdings like Hearst, everyone can learn a lesson here.
Livings trusts are the best way to pass along assets (be they vast or limited) because they can be individually tailored to meet the needs of any family. Do you have modest assets and children who are good with money? Maybe you want your trust to leave it to them all at once.