Dick Robinson, CEO of Scholastic, died, suddenly this summer. Though most of us didn’t know him, we have all most likely touched some of the many mega-successful publications that are part of his legacy. Sadly, his estate plan seems to have caught his family and the company by surprise, setting off what will likely be a lengthy and costly legal drama.
Costly and Painful Conflict
The clouds surrounding Dick Robinson’s estate plan are apparently so thick that not even Harry Potter would know how to wish them away. Law Professor Blogs Network reports:
Richard Robinson Jr., the longtime lead of Scholastic Corp., died suddenly while on a walk in Martha’s Vineyard. Robinson Jr.’s death was not the only surprise, as he also left behind a surprising succession plan. Instead of giving control of the publisher to his two sons, his siblings, or his ex-wife, control went to Iole Lucchese, Scholastic’s chief strategy officer. Lucchese also inherited all of his personal possessions.
In his 2018 will, Robinson described Ms. Lucchese as “my partner and closest friend.” Lucchese has been with the company for 30-years. Ms. Lucchese and Mr. Robinson had been “longtime romantic partners, according to interviews with family members and former employees.
The surprise heir has “set in motion a family succession drama at the century-old-company.” The company, which is one of the world’s largest publishers of children’s books like the Harry Potter novels and Magic School Bus series, now has its future being called into question due to Lucchese’s “sudden emergence as Scholastic’s heir.”
Some family members have begun to review their legal options—like reaching an agreement with Ms. Lucchese to transfer some voting shares to family members or to “ensure that get a greater share of the estate.”
Orderly Estate Planning
Fortunately, Dick Robinson had made an estate plan. Whether he had intended to update his will or minimize conflict by sharing his intentions with his sons, family and business partners “someday,” we’ll never know. Legal experts encourage all of us to have the difficult conversations that might be necessary as we make our estate plans. Though relatives and associates might not agree, they might be better prepared to honor intentions when the time comes. Contesting a will is generally costly and time consuming, with private affairs becoming public and the distribution of assets delayed. Remember too, that estate planning is for all of us! As Cassady Law Offices says, estate planning is no longer an option only for the wealthy; people in all walks of life are looking to make the most of their assets and their choices. When you think about it, in many ways, the less assets we have, the more important it is to intentionally pass them forward with as much expediency as possible.
When you create a will (and or set up a trust)—don’t forget to periodically update the associated documents. Clearly, it is also important to take the time, when we have it, to keep our families up to date about our intentions. Among the benefits of thoughtful estate planning is naming and preparing someone to manage our affairs when we die. Most frequently this person is referred to as an executor of the estate. Although often waived by families during the process of creating the will, estate bonds can help inspire the confidence of everyone involved. Sometimes they are even required during the probate process.
An estate bond is a type of fiduciary bond: it guarantees the beneficiaries that the estate will be administered in accordance with state law. Estate bonds are alternatively referred to as executor, personal representative or probate bonds. It is quick and easy to obtain any of these bonds from leading, national provider: Colonial Surety Company. Just get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond right from anywhere. Getting an estate bond is so simple you can do it now: Obtain Estate Bond Here.
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