We’ve blogged several times about the late former Pennsylvania State head football coach Joe Paterno and his estate. Most recently, we told you about Mr. Paterno’s Will and how a Pennsylvania probate court had agreed to seal the documents from public view. Now, after news of the sealing of the will became public and gave rise to a great deal of speculation, the family and the representatives of the Paterno estate have decided to release the will themselves.
The details of the Paterno will are surprising in that there is nothing surprising in them. Wills are always part of the public record as soon as they are submitted to a probate court for inspection. Though the Pennsylvania court agreed to the request to have the Paterno Will sealed, it now seems an odd choice to make because the Will is very ordinary and contains nothing revelatory or damaging.
Mr. Paterno created the Will in 1997, and also created a modification, called a codicil, in 2010. The Will directs that Mr. Paterno’s wife inherit his vehicles and personal property. The rest of the property goes to the living trust that Mr. Paterno created in 1997 when he first wrote his Will.
Unlike a Will, a living trust is a private document that does not need to be submitted before probate court. This means that the trust can administer the property privately.
None of this is surprising as the Paterno Will is what estate planning lawyers call a “pour over” Will. It simply transfers any property that Mr. Paterno hadn’t accounted for when he created his original living trust.