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Estate planning lessons from Hugh Hefner

Since Hugh Hefner’s death last month, much has been said (or at least debated) over how the founder of Playboy magazine should be remembered, especially in the wake of rampant sexual harassment allegations in Hollywood. To some, Hefner was a visionary who promoted sexual freedom for women. To others, he simply exploited women for personal gain until the day he died.

Regardless, it appears that the petty bickering and legal wrangling we have seen over many celebrity estates will not be seen here.

According to sources close to the family, Hefner reportedly devised half of his estate to his four children, with the other half going to various charities, including the University of Southern California film school. Through a prenuptial agreement with his third wife, Crystal Harris, he reportedly left her $5 million plus a house worth $5 million that would be transferred to a trust that she would control upon his death.  

Hefner was known for zealous planning, so it is likely that additional transfers (including those to his children) would be made through trusts, so that the beneficiaries would maintain control of the assets, and they could be transferred outside of probate, and public view.

So in essence, Hefner was able to pass on an enormous amount of wealth to people who loved him without provoking a fight between children and a spouse (who was younger than the children). While we may not agree with how he lived his life, he’s providing valuable estate planning lessons in death.

The preceding is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. 

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