Dean Smith, the great basketball coach for the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, died recently at the age of 83. His reputation among the UNC alumni and athletic department would go so far as lauding him as revered. One of professional basketball’s greatest all-time players, Michael Jordan, was quoted after the passing of his college coach, “Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach—he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it. In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life.” This is high praise from one legend to another.
With such respect for his life, a heartwarming story emerged about the legacy Coach Smith left behind. After investing a lifetime’s worth of work mentoring, teaching, and molding the good habits of athletes at UNC, Coach Smith included one last farewell message to his players. According to news stories, the coach gave “$200 to every letter winner who played for him during his 36 seasons as head coach at the school.” He directed that the money be used for a “dinner out” on the coach.
This story not only highlights the care that Coach Smith brought to his life, but also illustrates the value of crafting an estate plan that truly carries out the maker’s intentions. Trust debates, will contests, and other estate litigation may still occur even with a sound estate plan. These types of legal conflicts may not be entirely avoidable, but many times can be with the proper estate plan, precise legal expressions, and choosing good trustees and executors of the plans.
Estate plans live on. A revocable living trust, like the one used by Coach Smith, gives trustees precise instructions for how to carry out specific wishes; in this case a letter, a check, and a simple message to enjoy “dinner out” on the coach. Simple, yet powerfully effective in evoking the memory of a life well lived.
While no one hopes for or expects a trust dispute, even the best-laid plans can go awry. If you or a loved one has an Arizona trust litigation matter or probate dispute issue, speak to an experienced Arizona probate dispute attorney for assistance.