The force was with Lucas when he sold his legendary franchise
The news hit the public fast last week that Disney made a pretty hefty purchase of a pretty legendary asset: LucasFilm. For maybe the one person in the world who doesn't know, LucasFilm is George Lucas' company and includes the copyrights for what may be the biggest film series of all time: Star Wars.
Disney paid Lucas more than $4 billion for his solo-owned company on Oct. 30, which means Disney will be responsible for the future Star Wars films. And yes, there are plans to make more of the films. Disney predicts it will make a new installment every two to three years. While some think that this is a good move for Disney, this is also a potentially wise estate planning and tax decision for Lucas.
Because Lucas sold his company entirely, he got money out of it right away that he can spend how he pleases. If he had kept the company until he died, his family would have been left to handle the probate matters. Having the money while alive, Lucas reportedly plans to give much of it to a charity for education. Charitable donations are generally not taxed, making this business deal a prudent tax decision as well.
Lucas certainly could have come up with an estate plan that laid out what he would have wanted to happen to his company should he die, but this way he can see what his money from his business and hard work can do for people. Also, his agreement with Disney still allows him to participate in the creative of future Star Wars films. So it isn't as though he has to live to watch his own creation be taken over by another party.
It is more than likely that Lucas works with a team of financial planners, tax attorneys and estate planning lawyers. As this deal exemplifies, planning with trusted professionals can be hugely beneficial, both in life and death.
Source: Seeking Alpha, "Disney Buys LucasFilm: Solid Deal, Dilutive Until 2015," Nov. 1, 2012