News about Lou Reed's estate continues to come out of the New Jersey court system. We are not hearing the specifics of his estate plan only because Reed was a celebrity. Instead, we know what we know because of how Reed did his estate plan.
When most people die there is not much interest in the details of their estates. However, when a celebrity passes away, reporters are keen to find out how much money the celebrity had and how it will be distributed. Recently, the New York Post has had story after story about the specific details of Lou Reed's estate plan. We know how much he had when he passed away. We know how much money his intellectual property interests have earned for his estate since he passed away. We also know how much money each of Reed's heirs will receive.
The New York Post is not getting this information because their reporters are doing investigative journalism and figuring it out. As Forbespoints out, in an article titled “Lou Reed Walked on the Wild Side With His Estate Planning,” we know what we know about Lou Reed's estate because his entire estate plan consisted of a single will. That will had to be submitted to a public probate process, which allows reporters to gain access to the details. If Reed had used a different estate planning tool, such as a Revocable Living Trust, it would be much more difficult for reporters to find out the details.
You might not care whether your estate is made public after you pass away, since you will not be around to deal with any consequences. However, you should consider whether your heirs would want other people to know exactly how much they inherited. It might violate their privacy.
Reference: Forbes (July 10, 2014) “Lou Reed Walked on the Wild Side With His Estate Planning”
Image credit: Lou Reed By .dannynorton (http://flickr.com/photos/dannynorton/186795352/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons