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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

A Touching Memorial from One of March Madness’ Greatest

POSTED ON: March 30, 2015

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of March Madness, the annual college basketball tournament, but rarely does that passion overlap with my estate planning practice. Not so this year as Dean Smith, the legendary North Carolina University basketball coach, used his estate plan to leave a legacy as admirable as his on-court success.

Smith, a who passed away last month at age 83, had prepared his estate using a will and living trust. Through his trust Smith directed that $200 be given to each of his former players. So, those who played for Smith during his 36-year tenure as head coach of the Tar Heels are all receiving a check.

Along with their check, each of Smith’s former players received a letter with the following message:

“Each player was important and special to Coach Smith and when he prepared his estate plan, Coach wanted to reach out to each of his lettermen. Accordingly, coach decided that following his passing, each letterman be sent a two hundred dollar ($200.00) check with the message ‘enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.’ Enclosed is a check in the amount of two hundred dollars ($200.00) with the notation ‘Dinner out.’ Please enjoy your dinner out.”

Wow. While the sum may not be substantial, can you think of a better way to express the gratitude and love he had for his players? They say it’s the thought that counts and I think this testament hits the nail on the head for sure. A well prepared estate plan should serve as a vehicle for you to leave more than your wealth to the next generation. As Dean Smith did, you can also leave a lasting memory.

Smith is one of the most respected coaches in the history of collegiate athletics. He coached from 1961 to 1997 and retired with 879 victories, which was the NCAA Division I men’s basketball record at that time. Smith had the 9th highest winning percentage of any men’s college basketball coach (77.6%). During his tenure as head coach, North Carolina won two national championships and appeared in 11 Final Fours.

Among Smith’s most successful players in the NBA are Michael Jordan, Larry Brown, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Phil Ford, Bob McAdoo, Billy Cunningham, Kenny Smith, Walter Davis, Jerry Stackhouse, Antawn Jamison, Rick Fox, Vince Carter, Scott Williams and Rasheed Wallace.