The 47-year-old SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and the father of two small children, died suddenly – and far too young – on May 1, 2015.
Money, youth and success are no deterrents to tragedy. Reportedly, Goldberg died while doing an activity we all hope extends life — exercising. According to the New York Times, while Goldberg was on vacation in Mexico with family and friends, he fell off a treadmill and died of head trauma.
Sheryl Sandberg is reported to be worth $1 billion herself, so her family will not face the same financial challenges as others who experience similar tragedies, yet there are still important estate planning considerations Sheryl must face now regardless of her wealth.
And these estate planning considerations are lessons for all of us who have children and/or families we care about, whether we have $1 hundred or $1 billion.
First and foremost: the children.
Sheryl is now a single mom. She has spoken often about how much she relies on her husband and now that he is no longer there, she’ll need to identify others to support her in raising the kids.
On top of that, Sheryl will absolutely need to make sure she has named legal guardians for her kids, in case anything happens to her. And just naming guardians in a Will is not enough.
Sheryl needs to have a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan – naming both short and long-term guardians and giving clear instructions to the people named along with all of her caregivers – to ensure that if anything happens to her, her kids are never in the custody of strangers, but always under the care and guidance of those she chooses.
Once Sheryl’s got a Kids Protection Plan in place, she will need to think about probate and estate tax issues and how she can ensure that her family stays out of Court. She’ll want to keep as much of her financial assets as possible with her family and as little as possible going to the government upon her death.
Let’s examine the court issue in more detail. Any Californian who dies with $150,000 or more worth of assets in their name leave a big mess behind for their loved ones to clean up. And Sheryl would be leaving behind a VERY big mess.
She can ensure her family stays out of Court by putting everything she owns into Trusts. And, ideally, those trusts would have lifetime asset protection provisions built in for her children so they can receive their inheritance fully protected from lawsuits, divorce, creditors and predators. This will also enable Sheryl to determine how, when, and on what her children can spend their inherited money.
That’s something you likely need to consider for your family as well, as everyone who dies with more than $150,000 in assets goes through probate — not just billionaires and millionaires, but everyday regular people too.
Regardless of how much you have in the bank, you don’t want to leave your family with a big mess behind. There is no need to compound a tragedy by not planning well for the people you love. Make sure you protect and provide financial security for your loved ones. We can help.
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