Tony Bennett estate plan

Tony Bennett: A Master Vocalist's Lasting Legacy

Tony Bennett, a master vocalist who had a lifelong successful career, died on Friday morning July 21st, 2023, in New York City. He was 96. 

For those that don’t know him, his name was Anthony Dominick Benedetto and he was born in Astoria, Queens, New York on Aug. 3, 1926, to Italian immigrant parents. His father was a Grocer, and his mother was a seamstress. Despite economic limitations, he began singing as a child, and studied music and his other lifelong love, painting, at New York’s High School of Industrial Art. He was even peers with Frank Sinatra! 

Drafted at 18 in 1944, he served in World War II doing combat infantry duty and liberating a German concentration camp. After the end of the conflict, he sang as a member of an Armed Forces band.

On his return from service, he studied voice and continued to try to “make it in the BIZ”. One of the appearances he made got the attention of a songstress and she hired him as a club opener, during that time, Bob Hope was in the Greenwich Village venue to catch the performance. He then took the youngster and renamed him what we all famously know him as Tony Bennett, a more American-sounding abbreviation of his given name and hired him for his stage show at New York’s Paramount Theatre. That was the beginning of his success.  

One of my favorite songs is “Rags to Riches” which came out in 1953 and was later used under the opening credits of Martin Scorsese’s 1990 gangster epic “Goodfellas.” (one of my favorite movies!) Read our other blog, "Goodfellas: A Little Bit of Estate Planning, Mafia-style." here!

During his career, he went on to Winner of 18 Grammy Awards (with 36 total nominations), and a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in 2001, and even received two Emmy Awards.  

Now that you know more about Mr. Bennett, you can see how big of a deal his death is to the music community and the millions of people he touched with his music for decades. He is survived by his wife Susan Benedetto, his two sons, Danny and Dae Bennett, his daughters Johanna Bennett and Antonia Bennett and nine grandchildren. 

The late Mr. Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016, but continued to perform and record through 2021. Alzheimer’s is something our office deals with daily. I am sure Mr. Bennett had the right estate planning documents to prepare him for Alzheimer’s. But it is something not a lot of people or families talk about let alone prepare for it. Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative brain disease, and the most common form is dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease. It's an overall term that describes a group of symptoms. 

If Bennett had his estate plan done, he should have put together crucial legal documents to safeguard his assets and healthcare decisions. He would have a comprehensive power of attorney (POA) and health care proxy (HCP) in place, designating individuals he trusted to manage his financial matters and make important healthcare choices on his behalf.

In addition to the POA and HCP, Tony should have also created a dementia directive, a specialized document that addressed his specific wishes and intent should his Alzheimer's progress to a point where he could no longer communicate his preferences. This level of detail allowed his family to understand his desires and ensure they were carried out, providing a sense of comfort during a challenging time.

Tony Bennett's foresight in creating an estate plan would not only protect his interests but also prevent the need for his family to resort to costly and time-consuming legal processes. By having the necessary documents in place, Tony would have ensured that his family could manage his affairs efficiently, accessing his accounts, paying bills, and making healthcare decisions according to his wishes.

Tony's legacy extends beyond the stage, serving as a reminder that anyone, regardless of fame or wealth, can benefit from having a well-thought-out estate plan in place.

When we sit down with clients, we let them know that our Power of attorney and Health care Proxy assist their families should they ever develop Alzheimer’s and we even draft a dementia directive to get to the specifics of your wishes and intent. This set’s your family up for a more seamless process to the inevitable aging process.  

What happens when you don’t have a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy and you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? Well, many things, none that are easy to cope with. Once someone is diagnosed with this disease it is harder for an estate planning attorney to draft documents like the POA OR HCP because you may lack the legal capacity to sign these documents. Now your family can’t pay your bills or access your accounts or make healthcare decisions for you due to the lack of authority.  

That’s when we see clients come in to get what is referred to as guardianship or conservatorship. This process is costly and involves the court and you may not even get appointed as it is really in the court's hands at this point.  

As you can see, no one is excluded from the disease and although it affects everyone differently in the end having the right estate planning documents can help you and your family cope with it easier. The alternative is more costly, and stressful, and can cause more harm to you and your family with financial burdens and mental anguish.  

If you do not have a power of attorney or health care proxy, we highly recommend giving us a call at 978-464-8560 and booking a Strategic Planning Session with one of our attorneys. Here at Monteforte Law, we can help you obtain the important documents you need to protect you and your family from avoidable burdensome situations.  

And to the Great Mr. Bennett, thank you for all your years of music and love for life, may rest peacefully and continue playing Jazz in the heavens!

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