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The Kennedy trusts could take care of heirs for decades to come

Virtually everyone in New Jersey and nationwide has heard of the Kennedy family, which was made infamous through the political aspirations and tragedies surrounding the children of the family's patriarch, Joe Kennedy. Another thing for which the Kennedys are known is their vast wealth. It was the foresight of Joe Kennedy and the trusts he founded that may keep Kennedy heirs wealthy for decades to come.

The Kennedys understood -- and still understand -- that the use of trusts is vital in keeping the family wealth intact. Using so-called "dynasty trusts," which can be passed from generation to generation, a large portion of the money made by Joe Kennedy still exists. Most of the Kennedy family, which now includes the Smith, Shriver and Lawford surnames, hold substantial wealth in trusts. Right now, it is believed that Caroline Kennedy is the richest of the family with assets somewhere in the neighborhood of $175 million, according to 2013 estimates.

The trusts are combined with well-thought-out tax strategies and business decisions that protect the nearly $1 billion fortune. Other people may be involved in the management and investment of the family's money, but final decisions are still made by members of the Kennedy family. The family manages the trusts out of the New York City offices of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises.

New Jersey residents could take lessons from this iconic family regarding how to provide for heirs. It is not necessary to start out with millions of dollars to employ the strategies used by the Kennedys. The primary lesson is to take advantage of estate planning techniques in order to pass on as much of an individual's assets as possible for the use of family for years to come.

Source: Forbes, "How The $1 Billion Kennedy Family Fortune Defies Death And Taxes", Carl O'Donnell, July 8, 2014

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