J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Follow Hugh Hefner on estate planning

A Florida attorney can provide beneficial advice on estate planning. Hugh Hefner, with the assistance of his lawyers, provides an example of sound planning. Its strengths are impressive given Hefner's divorces and the economic and readership decline of Playboy magazine.

Hefner divided half of his assets to his four children. The remaining wealth was intended for charities, such as the University of Southern California film school. This allowed his third wife to live in comfort from a prenuptial agreement, worth $10 million, without risking his children's inheritance.

It is believed that Hefner had some type of trust that will allow his assets to pass to his intended beneficiaries without going through the expense and inconvenience of a probate proceeding. This charitable giving will lower estate taxes.

However, much of Hefner's wealth was held in his 37 percent ownership interest in the parent company that currently owns Playboy Enterprises. The shares must be sold, probably to the private entity that owns the majority ownership interest, for his heirs to receive any benefit. The price will likely be $45 million but determining fair market value is difficult because there is no public market for Hughes' ownership interest.

His handling of the famous Playboy mansion deserves attention for estate planning reasons and not necessarily because of the celebrities and parties. He sold his mansion to a neighbor for $100 million. Hefner did not receive any of this money which went to Playboy Enterprises. However, Playboy Enterprises paid $1 million each year to that neighbor so that Hefner continue to live there until he died.

Hefner used a business, based on a declining media format and losing money, for a free stipend and luxurious residence. He kept 37 percent of the Playboy empire and his millions of dollars in savings. He was also able to provide for his third wife without provoking an inheritance dispute among his family.

An attorney can assist less affluent and non-celebrity clients prepare strategies for their later years and provide an estate for their family. A lawyer can help provide options and with drafting estate planning documents such as a revocable living trusts and power of attorney to meet these goals.

Source: Forbes, "Hugh Hefner, Role model? He was when it came to estate planning," Danielle Mayoras and Andy Mayoras, Oct. 9, 2017

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