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Estate planning lessons to be learned from Lee Radziwill

While some people in Nevada have a natural curiosity about what kind of salacious details might be found in celebrities' estate documents, there are sometimes important lessons to be learned when such individuals pass. This is the case with American socialite, public relations executive and interior decorator Lee Radziwill. Her estate plan serves as an example of how accumulated wealth can be effectively passed along and preserved for future generations.

Radziwill's approach to estate planning involved a standard will and a revocable trust. It's the latter option that will largely determine how the socialite's estate is distributed. In some cases, a trust substitutes for a will so that probate can be avoided and asset details can remain private following a trust holder's death. Because Radziwill had a will and a trust, however, the will had to be probated per New York state law.

While most of the estate's assets will go through the revocable trust, the will was needed to take care of certain estate administration steps that couldn't be included in trust-related documents. The will was created several months prior to Radziwill's death. While this may seem odd, the sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis may have done so because she was aware of her failing health and wanted a document that reflected her current wishes. Even her trust was updated less than two years prior to her death.

Lee Radziwill made another smart move with her estate: She had a limited power of appointment. This is a step that a trust planning lawyer may recommend for a client in order to control who can inherit from the trust. Placing restrictions on a trust is also a way to maintain the basic intent of the trust holder, especially since it's not known how responsible future generations may be with certain assets.

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