Fans of the long-running television sitcom “The Simpsons” may recognize the name Sam Simon. He helped create the series in 1989, and though he left the show in 1993, he is still listed as an executive producer at the end of the credit sequence to this day.
That producer credit has allowed him to earn tens of millions of dollars per year and allowed him to support his favorite causes, including animal rights and helping homeless people. So when he received the sort of medical diagnosis no one wants to hear, he decided to give away nearly all of it.
Late in 2012, Simon was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. The cancer had perforated his colon and nearly killed him by the time it was diagnosed. As Simon recalled, he awoke in the hospital and realized that his will might not be sufficient to carry out his wishes. That is because his estate would probably have to pay significant estate tax and probate court costs due to its size.
So Simon set up a charitable trust to fund his favorite charities. He also has a foundation in his own name which will probably be a beneficiary as well.
Which instruments a person needs to create a good estate plan depends on the individual. Some people may only need a will, while others need a trust and others should use a combination of the two to best execute the testator’s wishes — and minimize exposure to taxes and fees.
While it is sad to hear that someone has a terminal illness at a relatively young age, it is gratifying when the person is able to pass on his or her estate the way he or she wishes.
Source: On Wall Street, “Estate Planning Lesson From The Simpsons Co-Creator,” Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Aug. 9, 2013