Estate planning

Pat Robertson’s death raises questions about estate planning


Conservative Christian media mogul Pat Robertson passed away Thursday at the age of 93, leaving behind a huge estate that certainly entails some special circumstances from a tax and legal standpoint.

Robertsonwho founded Christian Broadcasting Network, Regent’s University, American Center for Law & Justice, Operation Blessing, and International Family Entertainment, was a political force that helped shape modern conservatism in the United States as a longtime television host of “The 700 Club,” It has helped extend the influence of religion into the present day the Republican Party, He was known for his divisive and often outrageous comments on many social issues.

Robertson was also very wealthy.

Priya Prakash Royal, managing solicitor at the Royal Law Firm, said: “Especially with high-profile religious figures who have become involved in politics and changed the landscape in terms of the role of religion in our country, his real estate assets may have some unique characteristics.” e-mail.

In addition to estimated Hundreds of millions From the dollars generated from the initial public offering of Robertson’s International Family Entertainment in the early 1990s, the TV preacher had the luxury of a sprawling 11,000 square feet. to retreat Royal indicated that he owns 27 acres in Bath County, Virginia, in addition to other potential assets that could be part of his property.

He may have intellectual property rights including religious recordings, subsidiary interests in the network, and perhaps even publicity rights, as his name and image hold value in the evangelical community. Publishing under his name could be profitable, which means he could be an asset to the estate,” Royal said.

“However, as a religious leader, with proper planning, most, if not all, of his taxable assets can be part of charitable planning, where they are actually owned by religious foundations or entities from which he received financial benefits without royalties, or are appropriated to them,” she added. : “Donating to charities he values ​​or established to carry on his legacy, while supporting his family while they continue his work.”

This means that significant tax breaks may be possible, Royal noted.

“Pat Robertson’s estate is likely to have this (intellectual property) issue, because he has published several books in his career. He may also have licensed his intellectual property,” Asher Rubinstein, partner at Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, said in an email. and his image.” “It is a good idea for an intellectual property attorney to maintain and assign copyright. The intellectual property is often held in a trust, the income of which is paid to beneficiaries, including religious charities.

The question also arises, Rubinstein said, is whether the original copy of a speech by a prominent person has any value. “A clause such as this should be carefully considered by an estate planning consultant with regard to inheritance, tax planning, and asset preservation.”

Avoid real estate taxes

These transfers before or after death can serve as deductions for both income and earnings Property Taxes, “He can leave a legacy of over $100 (million dollars) without any taxable estate regardless,” she said.

The case shows the possibility of a trust, “allowing for a more deliberate distribution of assets,” David Watson, a Milwaukee-based estate planning attorney, said in an email.

“Conversely, in the absence of a trust, his property would be subject to distribution pursuant to Virginia’s intestacy laws, which would differ from his intentions as a religious leader,” Watson said. “Given his dedication to charitable efforts, one can reasonably assume that he wished to perpetuate the work of the 700 Club.”

Another conservative Christian figure, Jerry Falwell, Leave A $29 million life insurance policy for Liberty University, the institution he founded, along with the Thomas Road Baptist Church, which received $5 million, after Falwell’s death in 2007, according to the Insurance Journal. This payment eliminated the large debts the university faced.

The power of trust

“Assuming Pat did indeed create a trust and make provisions to set aside a large portion for the 700 Club or other nonprofit organizations, it would have mitigated concerns about the effects of estate taxes,” Watson said. “Such bequests to nonprofits are deductible against the value of the estate, thus reducing the burden of estate taxes. It is worth noting that current tax laws allow for an unrestricted number of charitable bequests against estates, making this an effective strategy for mitigating estate tax liabilities.

He said charitable trusts that are set up in advance are a way for religious leaders to extend their control over their donated assets after their lives.

“It is worth noting that charities can come in many forms, such as the various options of residual charities or pilot charities,” Watson said. “Each of these variations of the trust offers unique tax advantages and a high degree of flexibility, allowing religious leaders to tailor their approach to their specific objectives and circumstances.”

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