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Death of radio host reaffirms importance of estate planning

In Florida, planning for the peaceful disposal of an estate after death is essential. It involves how property is passed on to spouses, siblings and other intended beneficiaries. Successful estate planning, however, requires that one be aware of relevant federal and state laws regarding wills and bequests and plan ahead for best results.

The estate of one local radio icon provides a good example of proper planning. 65-year-old talk show host, Howie Chizek, suffered a fatal heart attack in June. The radio host left the majority of his estate, including his home, to Eric Sylvester, a former athlete at St. Ignatius in Cleveland and a long-time friend and volunteer in the radio host's charity.

The value of the radio host's estate was estimated at $600,000, according to records filed in probate court. His friend will get around $500,000 after other beneficiaries are paid between $2,500 and $10,000 each. The other beneficiaries include a brother, nephews and a few other friends. The radio host was a bachelor throughout his life and is not survived by a spouse or children.

A will is the first and foremost necessity among estate-planning options. This document is executed by a person in his or her lifetime to specify the manner in which property may be distributed once he or she dies. Most people set out specific assets for distribution to family members after their death.

When a person dies without a will, the state in which the person lived usually handles estate division. The process can involve many complications, legal disputes and family feuds.

Estate planning is critical for people who have considerable wealth and children from more than one marriage. Here expert advice can play an important role in minimizing taxes and other financial risks and helping to properly administer an estate. It is the simplest way to ensure that property and other assets are distributed as wished.

Source: Akron Beacon Journal, "Howie Chizek leaves bulk of estate to one man," Phil Trexler, Dec. 13, 2012

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