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Congratulations. You've built a successful business, or earned a lot of money and invested it wisely, or skillfully managed the family business you inherited. Now it's time to figure out what to do with it all, as taking it with you isn't an option. Obviously, there's more to this task than retirement planning, which is complex enough for most people. How do you ensure that your money survives you, no matter how long you live, and ends up in the hands of those you want to have it, after you're gone? How do you keep estate taxes--which can take a 55 percent bite out of your wealth--to a minimum?
Staying Wealthy covers all contingencies, with sections on estate planning, long-term health care, business succession, investing, family issues, liability, charity, and, finally, a look at the all those problems as faced by the superwealthy. The chapter on estate planning alone is scary enough to make you read the entire book. It shows what happens if you die without a will--intestate--and explains that your assets will be divided up according to the laws of whatever state you happened to be living in at the time of your death. "It would be purely coincidental if the state's plan of distribution matched your own," writes Breuel, who goes on to note that it's not just society's poorest who shed their mortal coil without a will; Pablo Picasso and Abraham Lincoln both died intestate. Each section is richly detailed, with easy-to-understand charts and graphs, hypothetical case studies, and real examples drawn from news reports. The only thing more useful for the wealthy would be a book detailing how not to die, get divorced, or become incapacitated. Until someone figures that out, though, Staying Wealthy is the book that should be on the shelf of everyone who's earned a small fortune, or aspires to. --Lou Schuler [via]