Estate planning is an important aspect of the management of assets. However, a majority of the population neither understands what estate planning entails nor its applications. Therefore, an understanding of the applications of estate planning in asset management necessitates a study on Mr. John B. Ludwig’s case.
Mr. John B. Ludwig died in 2018 at the age of 58 years. He had property valued at approximately $48 million. He was survived by his wife, Janet Holman, and two children; Beverly and Samantha, from his second marriage. Mr. Ludwig’s first marriage to Rose E. Ludwig ended in divorce in 2000 after their child, Michael, became incapacitated due to stroke. Mr. Ludwig was in the process of updating his will before his demise. As such, a battle to determine the rightful heir to Mr. Ludwig’s wealth ensued. The first wife claimed the initial will was still legal, while the second wife stood her ground that her husband signed the first draft when updating his will.
Due to the legal fees involved in seeking a court settlement, the two women, Rose and Janet, involved Mr. Ludwig’s younger brother, David. For the sake of upholding the family unity, David advised on incorporating an estate planning strategy to achieve the goals stipulated by Mr. Ludwig in both the updated draft and the initial will. The selection of a financial fiduciary to oversee the administration of assets after the owner dies or is disabled is one of the key factors affecting inheritance disputes. As such, many clients initiate an estate plan to maintain family unity while minimizing the tax obligations passed to future beneficiaries. Mr. Ludwig’s family sought insight from a financial adviser at SteelPeak Wealth to help guide them through the estate planning process.
SteelPeak’s financial adviser explained the benefits of a living trust against a will to help the family gain an understanding of what constitutes estate planning. He clarified that the main benefits of an estate plan are to protect and preserve an individual’s property while reducing the estate taxes. Additionally, the plan guarantees flexibility when arranging inheritance for heirs. Consequently, the family compared Mr. Ludwig’s goals in the draft to his initial will and selected the most appropriate objectives to include in the trust creation.
The three main objectives were solid educational funds for Samantha and Beverly, an inheritance to sustain Michael’s care, and beginning a charitable organization to continue Mr. Ludwig’s legacy. Both women agreed that a trust fund would be created; whereby Michael would receive 40% due to his disability, the two girls would each receive a 25% inheritance, and the remaining 10% would be used for charitable causes. Thereafter, Rose was chosen as the grantor on behalf of Michael since the initial will had indicated she was a co-benefactor. SteelPeak Wealth’s financial adviser also conducted a stress test to determine the viability of the estate planning strategy, and the test result showed an 85% success rate. With the dispute solved amicably, SteelPeak’s financial adviser was to oversee the management of the trust and provide quarterly reviews of its performance.
The fight over Mr. Ludwig’s property would have escalated to a court hearing; however, by incorporating SteelPeak’s estate planning services, the family was able to uphold its harmony, while taking into consideration Mr. Ludwig’s wishes to include all of his children.
The case study above gives a clear distinction between a will and a living trust. A will can only come into effect when an individual, in this case, Mr. Ludwig, passes away; whereas a trust can be initiated while an individual is still alive. Therefore, estate planning is necessary for the management of an individual’s assets, as well as the preservation of one’s legacy.
SteelPeak Wealth. “Trust and Estate Planning.” SteelPeak Wealth. https://steelpeakwealth.com/services/trust-and-estate-planning/ Accessed 18 August 2020