Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wills, Privacy and Joe Paterno

Wills are public records.  Any assets distributed by the will are also public.  In Hamilton County this info is all accessible  on-line.  

Joe Paterno's family recently was criticized because they asked for, and received, permission to keep his will under seal. After a bit of an outcry, they agreed to remove the seal.

A few thoughts on this issue:

1.  The will is vanilla - all of his assets will go to his trust agreement.  I see no reason to keep this info private other than general public figure hubris which thinks that laws and policies for everyone else do not apply to public figures.  c.f. Geithner, Tim and Rangel, Charles among others.

2.  By asking for an exception to the privacy rules, the family and its attorneys made this a public matter.  Now, they have attorneys in Cincinnati opining on the will and their privacy request when it would most likely have remained under the radar for everyone except those in State College.    

3.  The interesting info that the family would like to keep private is the net worth of JoePa.  This info could have been remained private if the trust were funded during JoePa's life, or if the financial assets had transfer on death designations.

I do not know if the assets were re-titled in his trust, but there is no excuse for not doing so.  Anyone who is  85 years old should make sure that his estate plan is current and assets are titled properly.  An 85 year old with an aggressive form of cancer should make sure to review his estate plan and asset titling as of yesterday.