The Canary Keeps Singing

The sudden deaths of the iconic fashion designer, Kate Spade, and of the celebrity chef and world storyteller, Anthony Bourdain, have become a sobering reminder that tomorrow is never promised. While the deaths of Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain resulted from them succumbing to internal demons, other possibilities of tragedy also exist. Regardless of the cause, sudden death can cause a financial burden and unwanted strains on your family.

Unfortunately, in the area of estate planning, learning from your mistakes may not be a possibility. You may never get the chance to go back in time and start the planning you had been meaning to do.

Let’s instead use these recent tragic events as a wake-up call and a life lesson. Anthony Bourdain traveled far and wide in search of the best culinary finds and the expansion of cultural horizons. Many of us invited him into our living rooms as he unapologetically shared his journeys, his one of a kind palate, and the stories of those he met along the way. On countless occasions, Bourdain entered “unknown” lands filled with violence and war.

With a spur of the moment life of travel, planning for his future would have been the best approach for his fast action life. He had book deals, television shows, and several projects in the works. Now without the star of the show, what will happen to his life work?

However, planning was not the style of Anthony Bourdain. Although he received production credit on his show “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”, he did not own the production company. He left no restaurants for his heir to operate or sell. He was always the man without a plan on his travels. Unfortunately, this translated over to his financial life. Many businesses create a succession plan so why would it have been any different for a person whose brand is himself? 

Apparently, he left no plan; and given that he is not divorced, whatever wealth Bourdain may have left behind may be for his 11-year-old daughter, Ariane, or end up in his estranged wife’s hands. If everything passes to his daughter, his estate will flow into a Unified Gifts to Minors Act account or UGMA which is used to hold and protect assets for minors until they reach the legal age in their state. If no further planning is made, a young Ariane will inherit a large sum of money when she turns 18. The UGMA account will have a custodian but there are no enforcements as to how the money should be spent. With little to no financial acumen to handle her inheritance, Ariane could very well use the money as she pleases. With no additional planning, Ariane will have no asset protection after receiving the money and the assets are left vulnerable.

Sudden deaths are out of our control, but one thing we can control is to begin the planning process before something happens. The time is now. United States suicide rates are on the rise, that’s a 30% increase in the past 17 years, this means that around 16 out of every 100,000 Americans will take their own life1. Add to that the statistics of sudden deaths by heart attack taking blame for 1 out of every 4 deaths2 and other illnesses. Similarly, cancer rates are also rising. We can be sure that we will one day leave this world. Those who survive us will continue on with whatever situation we left them. It’s your choice to leave them with order or chaos. Which will you choose?

Creating a plan is not just a safety net, but it is peace of mind for you and your loved ones. While money and assets could never bring anyone back, having a plan in place can certainly ease the burden left behind for your loved ones to bare. This is a huge wakeup call ringing loud and clear for us to plan now. Plan for the unexpected, plan for our loved ones, plan for our legacy. We develop strong relationships with our clients. We provide comprehensive risk reviews and strive to help you plan for the unexpected. Speak to your trusted advisor about your risks and plan for your future.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).