Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lou Reed Walked on the Wild Side With His Estate Planning

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, Lou Reed was the man who famously crooned, “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.”  The late lead singer and guitarist of The Velvet Underground — and of course, a musician and songwriter with a successful, decades-long solo career — may have been a bit wild at times.  But that doesn’t explain why he would be so careless with his estate plan.  This is a man with an estate worth more than $30 million — perhaps substantially more, in fact.

Recent filings with the Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan (that’s probate court, for us non-New Yorkers) show that Lou Reed’s estate has already earned $20,379,169 (give or take a few bucks) since he passed away from liver disease on October 27, 2013, at the age of 71.  This is only the income that the estate has brought in since his death, from his copyright, publishing and performance royalties and other deals put together under the skillful management of his longtime manager and friend, Robert Gotterer.  Gotterer is one of the two co-executors of Reed’s estate.

Lou Reed relied on a will he signed in April 2012.  A 34-page will, reportedly, but a will nonetheless.  Why would someone with assets worth tens of millions of dollars rely on a will, instead of a revocable living trust (at the very least)?

That’s the question that doesn’t appear to have a good answer.  The New York Post is all over the probate filings in Reed’s estate, breaking the news over what comes in and out, who gets what, and what everything is worth.  Media outlets across the country have picked up these details and released their own stories about the details and value of Lou Reed’s estate.

If Lou Reed had used a revocable living trust, and transferred his assets into the trust during his life, then all of this information would have been kept private.  No one would know how much he had, whom he left it to, or how much his executors were charging.  That’s a key difference between wills and trusts.  Wills have to pass through probate court to work, which is a public process.  Trusts, when used the right way, avoid probate court entirely.

Full Article and Source:
Lou Reed Walked on the Wild Side With His Estate Planning


Beth said...

I disagree with the author. A revocable trust is not a protection.

tvfields said...

While it is important to try to protect your estate, too many of us have learned the hard way that our laws make it possible for dishonest parties to subvert your plans. The 2-page PDF file at provides many insights into why this is so - and is likely to remain so, at least as long as victim advocates don't do more to bring awareness to these issues.