Although COVID seems like it may finally come to an end and the world is returning to somewhat normal, there will always be days where we remember sorrow for those who passed due to this awful virus.
One life lost in 2020 was Bernie Rubin of Bernie and Phyl’s, a popular furniture store. He became ill due to COVID in March of 2020 when COVID was at an all-time high. Only after a few weeks of fighting the virus, Bernie lost his life. With the one-year anniversary of his death just passing, it seemed like a good time to reflect on his death.
Bernie’s daughter, Michelle Pepe recently spoke out about her father’s death in this article. Sadly, she believes she is at fault for her father’s death. In March of 2020, she traveled from Boston to Florida to visit her mother, Phyllis, for her 80th birthday. It was then that she believes she gave her father coronavirus. She believes she caught the virus when she was grocery shopping while she was staying in Florida. While Phyllis also suffered from COVID during this time, she was able to defeat the virus and survived.
While we are remembering Bernie, the story of his daughter is a common one for many individuals. Thousands of people are suffering from the same feeling of guilt due to a loved one being lost during the pandemic. Many believe the same thing Michelle does: that they are the reason for the deaths of their loved ones. This burden does not come lightly, and it is something many individuals live with every day. Michelle also mentions in this article that she had joined many support groups online where she met other people going through the same situation.
While this burden falls over them, we hope it is the only burden they have had to face when it comes to the death of their loved ones. Obviously, Michelle would not have knowingly exposed her father, and I think she deserves a pass on that, though it doesn’t seem like she’s ready to give herself a pass just yet.
From our perspective, whenever someone passes away, we hope these individuals, especially Bernie, had the right estate planning in place at the time of their deaths to ensure their families would be taken care of after they are gone.
At the very least we hope Bernie, and others had their Big 3 in place – their Will, Health Care Proxy, and Power of Attorney. Those are the most crucial part of any estate plan, and all are of equal importance when it comes to protecting yourself and your family
With having such a successful company, we hope Bernie went that extra step to ensure his wealth would be preserved for generations. However, business succession is something that many of our clients miss. Business owners have special considerations when it comes to their plans – for example, who takes over the business if they die? Who runs it? Who owns it? Does the business go on, or should it be We address the specialized planning for business owners in Attorney Monteforte’s new book, Your Business, Your Money (available for download here). The book explains the biggest mistakes that business owners make their estate planning, and the best ways to fix those mistakes. From what we know of Bernie, he was a very smart guy, and if we were to take a guess, he probably had his ducks in a row.
Given the success of Bernie and business, they likely have substantial assets and would have needed wealth protection services. In that case, it would make sense (from a Massachusetts point of view) for them to have some Trusts in place. A Credit Shelter Trust would allow them to maximize their personal estate tax exemption. They may have also had charitable Trusts, to help continue their philanthropic work. When done right, Trusts can be an amazingly useful tool.