The Estate of New York Musician Lou Reed

Celebrity estate planning remains one of the most common ways that local residents are confronted with issues regarding wills, trusts, and other inheritance issues. As the old adage makes clear, the only certainties in life are death and taxes. It does not matter whether one is a billionaire, international celebrity, elementary school teacher, or anything in between. We will all face death and deal the the aftermath of a passing.

In that way, it is useful to take advantage of high-profile deaths as a way to again share information on the value of estate planning.

The most recent celebrity planning story to hit the headlines is that of famed musician Lou Reed. Reed died in late October in Southampton, New York following liver disease complications at the age of 71.

Reed first entered popular culture as a musician, singer, and songwriter for the ground-breaking band, the Velvet Underground. He then went on to some solo success, performing for many decades, right up until this very year. A native New Yorker, Reed is very much recognized for his attachment to New York City. Many of his songs were based around experiences and relationship he had in the city.

As discussed in a recent Express story, Reed took advantage of very favorable tax rules to leave the vast majority of estate to his wife. Recently, Reed’s will was filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court. Virtually all of his assets will be split between his elderly mother, sister, and wife.

The exact total of Reed’s estate is unknown, though it includes sizeable cash, a penthouse in Manhattan, and a home in East Hampton. The estate also includes his copyrights and licensing for his music. Many entertainment stars own rights to their work which can prove quite valuable in the years (or even decades) after their death.

The will indicates that Reed’s wife will inherit about 75% of the estate. In the will Reed also explained that, “It is my hope and desire, without imposing any legal obligation, that my said sister will use a portion of this cash bequest to help care for our mother, Toby Reed, for the balance of her life.”

These details are common in many wills. It is reasonable for one to leave all or most of an estate to a surviving spouse–there are both practical and tax benefits to that arrangements. In addition, it is natural to indicate how one hopes a loved one will use a bequest, though simply laying out one’s hope is not legally binding itself. In certain cases, more effective tools can be used to ensure that funds are used in a certain manner after a passing.

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