BlogRead the Latest News

 

Old Adult Fiction

new hampshire A former University of New Hampshire librarian who lived frugally, left his entire $4 million estate to the university. The UNH promptly fulfilled his mostly unrestricted bequest by allocating $100K to the library where he worked (some might say toiled) for 50 years, $1 million for a video scoreboard for the football stadium, and $2.5 million for the career center to presumably assist students with worthless majors like women’s studies, anthropology, and fine arts find jobs other than as baristas.

Several points only marginally associated with estate planning: 

  1. By leaving his entire estate to charity, the former librarian will not incur state or federal estate tax. 
  2. Even though he spent the last year of his life in an assisted living facility watching (and finally learning about) football, I highly doubt that he would approve of UNH spending $1 million in his name on a video scoreboard for their minor league football team (avg attendance 6,000 last year). I doubt the absence of a video scoreboard is keeping people away. 
  3. Although assisting students with job placement after they selected useless majors is a questionable use of one’s savings, it is no less worthy than leaving money to a library in the 21st Century when most functions of a library are available on on-line (except for providing a physical warm or cool space for the homeless during the Winter or Summer).

The Multi-Millionaire Next Door

Ronald Read was a gas station attendant in Vermont who retired after 25 years and then worked as a janitor for J.C. Penney for 17 more years. When he died last year at the age of 92, he left most of his $8 million estate to the local library and hospital.  His step son, whose mother died in 1970 after a brief 10 year marriage to Mr. Read, was unaware of his wealth.   He was renowned for his frugality, which included not paying for parking, wearing clothes held together by safety pins, and gathering free fire wood for his stove.  No one suspected he had any wealth, much less $8 million.

Several quick points:

1.  Assets worth more than $5.43 million are subject to federal estate tax, but bequests to charity are not taxable.  Mr. Read’s estate will not be subject to federal estate tax.

2.  Mr. Read’s estate will not be subject to Vermont estate tax either because Vermont exempts $2.75 million from estate taxation.

3.  Kudos to his step-son who continued to visit his step-father for 45 years after his mom died after only 10 years of marriage to Mr. Read.

4.  Perhaps we could all accumulate a significant net worth like Mr. Read if we eschewed cell phone and data plans, cable TV packages, and daily Starbucks runs.

ronald read(small)

Contact Me

All Posts By Jay Brinker

I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.