Simplifying My Estate so that

When I Croak it will Get to the Right Places

Lester Earnest

2017.10.21

With some luck, I became a “Top One-percenter” in the early 1980s and since then have been giving it away to my three offspring and their spouses as well as to several universities and other charities that I support. I also set up some trust funds and nonprofit corporations to do things I am interested in.  However, I have become aware that if I keep all of those things going my heirs will face a lot of complexity when I croak. I was born in 1930 and plan to live until 2043 but I can’t be sure that will work out.  

     I now aim to help my heirs by simplifying my financial affairs, so I am handing off or shutting down these entities so that my heirs can receive mostly cash rather than complexity. When my mom passed away at age 100 in 2007 I was left with a financial mess that I am still working on. Have you ever tried to foreclose a Mexican mortgage on a crook? I hope to leave my heirs with liquid assets but there is still work to do as shown below.

Trust Funds

·       In the early 1990s my then-wife Joan and I set up a so-called QTIP trust so as to minimize taxes and maximize our heirs’ inheritance. When she passed in 2000, half of our assets went into a trust fund for our three offspring that was to produce income for me as long as I lasted. However in 2014 I observed that my heirs were having financial difficulties with mortgages and the like so, since I didn’t need the income from that trust fund, I dissolved it and transferred its assets to my offspring.

·       Late in 2000 I set up a sizable Educational Trust Fund for my grandchildren and have since distributed most of it to them. However, my youngest grandchild Matthew, who has been doing college-level work in math, physics, geology and the like since around age 12, still has a way to go. I expect to disperse the remaining funds in the Educational Trust within the next two years and then, instead of putting more money into it and having to do annual tax filings, I plan to shut it down and simply donate future educational expenses as needed.

·       I also set up a revocable living trust holding my remaining assets that will continue until I croak and will then avoid probate by having my three heirs donate to charities of their choice however much is needed to avoid the death tax. My nearby son Ian will serve as Trustee.

·       When my sister Pat passed away in 2006 I became trustee of my mother’s estate and after my mom died I began trying to liquidate her assets and distribute them to heirs, a project that remains incomplete but that I hope to finish it this year.

501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporations

·       Around 20 years ago Irwin Sobel, who earned his PhD at SAIL, thought that he would soon be laid off from Hewlett-Packard and wanted to set up a nonprofit software corporation, so we did, calling it GeoGroup, and I somehow was elected Chairman of the Board. The tentative first project was to put together satellite photography from around the World in a manner similar to what Google Earth did later, but since our project never got started the Board meetings turned into annual parties that continued until the end of 2015 when we finally shut it down.

·       As discussed above, in 1999 a group of bike racing renegades formed FIAC, a nonprofit corporation, to compete with the corrupt USA Cycling in support of grass roots bicycle racing. In 2002, after my second successful lawsuit against the crooks, I turned the resulting assets into support for FIAC and was then elected Executive Director. I managed it for many years, conducted races mostly in western states and also holding national championships. However, the crooks eventually pushed us out of business so at the end of 2015 I arranged to shut down and transfer its assets to NABRA.org and.

·       Also in the early 2000s I was elected to the Board of Directors of the Los Altos Hills Historical Society and then became its Treasurer. I managed its assets for many years but since there was a competing committee set up by the Town of Los Altos Hills, namely the History Committee, I served there as well. Eventually the Historical Society began to disintegrate so I proposed shutting it down and donating its assets to the town at the end of 2014.

In summary, all the nonprofit corporations have now been shut down and by next year I hope to have just one ongoing trust fund, namely my Revocable Living Trust.