1st Nov 2021

M. Richard “Dick” Robinson, Jr., longtime chairman, president, CEO, and owner of Scholastic, recently died. You can learn more about that at my prior post (click here).

For purposes of this post, we want to hone in on the fact that his estate purportedly benefits his “longtime romantic partner” Iole Lucchesse. The details of how and why this was done are not as important at this main point:

If you leave no will, trust, or other estate plan, you WILL NOT benefit a non-relative.

The intestacy (no last will and testament) statue in Oklahoma basically looks for your closest relatives to deliver the property you died owning. In some cases, this is a great solution. In some cases, there are some hard parts, but the parties can make it work.

In some cases, it is a terrible solution. Either because: a) someone benefits who ideally would not have; or b) someone does not benefit who ideally would have. A future post in this series will look at that first part “a” and disinheritance issues. This post looks more at the part “b” issue.

What types of non-family members could be considered in a plan?

-Charities (churches or religious beneficiaries, civic groups, disaster relief organizations, universities and educational groups, hospitals and research facilities, etc.);

-Romantic partners, where no legal marriage exists;

-Close friends;

-Special but more distant relatives who could theoretically inherit under intestacy but are unlikely to;

-Business partners;

This is also important to consider when selecting your Personal Representative or person who will be in charge of your estate. Without a will or other plan or agreement, a Court will rarely appoint a non-relative to this position.

The Robinson estate illustrates both of these points: a) having a plan to benefit a non-relative; and b) having a plan to put a non-relative in charge of your estate.

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