Jun 25, 2012

In unusual move, Paterno's will kept private

UPDATE: Following a motion by the Wilkes Barre Citizens Voice to unseal the Paterno will, the late football coach's family released the 1997 Will to the public. Paterno left all his personal property except cash and securities to his wife and Personal Representative, Sue; with the residue flowing into his 1997 Revocable Trust. The Trust is a private document and thus not available for public scrutiny. To read the 1997 Will, click here.

Last Will and Testament becomes public record when it is filed. But in a highly unusual move, the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno's will was sealed just days after being filed in a Pennsylvania court on April 5.

Paterno died in January of lung cancer at age 85, his stellar reputation tarnished as a result of the child sexual abuse scandal unfolding at Penn State. It's speculated that the sealing may stem from concerns over civil liability related to the Jerry Sandusky criminal trial. In any event, no reason was given by the court for the sealing.

What is so odd about this is that other famous people - as rich and as celebrated as Paterno, and whose families were probably no less concerned with confidentiality - routinely have their wills open to public scrutiny  following their deaths. Examples include Elvis Presley, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Michael Jackson, Paul Newman and very recently, Whitney Houston.

If you value your family's privacy, you'll want to keep your estate out of Probate Court. To find out how you accomplish this, contact our Florida estate planning attorneys for a consultation.

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